President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, inaugurated Doctor Clark G. Gilbert as the 16th president of BYU-Idaho, Tuesday, Sept. 15.
During his inaugural address, President Gilbert began by addressing the faculty and acknowledging their hard work and dedication to the students of BYU-I.
“That this institution has been able to expand so dramatically while preserving this individual attention is a testament to the university’s design and to the character of the faculty,” President Gilbert said.
He said each faculty member should continue to focus on what they can do for the students and how they can help enrich the lives of those on campus and off.
“We must consistently ask, ‘Why are we doing this, and are there ways of doing it better?’” President Gilbert said.
He said BYU-I should be constantly looking for ways to collaborate with other entities within the Church Educational System, within LDS membership and within missionary work, in order to keep costs down.
President Uchtdorf said Ricks College had approximately 9,000 students at the time of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s announcement of the creation of BYU-I in June 2000.
“Since President Hinckley’s announcement, the number of students at BYU-Idaho has tripled, even as the relative cost per student has declined,” President Gilbert said.
He said it is imperative for BYU-I to continue to find ways to expand its reach throughout the world while decreasing relative costs for the Church.
“In our meetings as Board of Trustees and Church Board of Education, we are always reminded by our dear Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, that these resources come from the tithing funds of the Church,” President Uchtdorf said. “They are sacred. They represent the widow’s mite, as well as the rich man’s tithe.”
President Uchtdorf said BYU-I should be conscious of where the school’s funding comes from and should always use diligence and seek the Lord’s guidance when using sacred funds.
President Uchtdorf said the Church is working to find ways to help educate any member who wants to attend a Church university.
“Many of our young people would love to come and study at a Church university,” President Uchtdorf said. “Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate them. Each year, this challenge grows and becomes more acute.”
He said the online and Pathway programs have helped increase the amount of students who are able to get an education through a Church university, who would otherwise not have the opportunity or the means.
“We are very grateful for the inspiring innovations we have seen in the past years, like the Pathway program, online learning, learning model and the balanced tracks,” President Uchtdorf said.
President Gilbert and President Uchtdorf both referenced BYU-I’s pioneer ancestry and encouraged students and faculty to remember and honor that heritage.
“Regardless of its origin, the pioneer’s heart was held in this valley for such a time as this when the Lord would significantly expand his educational gathering across the Church,” President Gilbert said.
President Uchtdorf said BYU-I and the other CES schools must prepare for further worldwide growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the resulting educational needs.
“As Elder David A. Bednar has said, ‘The creation of BYU-Idaho is one of the most important educational events in the Restoration,’” President Gilbert said.
He said the students at BYU-I must understand the importance of moral agency and must learn to act, rather than be acted upon.
“BYU-Idaho’s influence on the world will continue unabated through the lives and impact of its graduates,” President Gilbert said.
President Uchtdorf said the overriding objective of BYU-I must be to lead the minds of youth in the discovery of unchanging principles, which are given to God’s children for their blessing and happiness.
“As President Hinckley once said, ‘[BYU-Idaho] represents an important part of the overall responsibility of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to assist the Almighty in bringing to pass his work and his glory, in leading his children to immortality and eternal life,’” President Uchtdorf said.