Written by: Tori Sheets and Emily Brady
It was a Monday night. Spring was just starting to win the battle against its predecessor. Winter was planning its last snow storm for the next morning, but on this Monday evening, the snow was starting to disappear.
That night, President Clark G. Gilbert and his wife told his children they would be moving to Salt Lake City, Utah. Afterwards, the Gilbert family went out for ice cream.
As the Gilberts walked down the snow-capped hill, Lucy Gilbert reached for her father’s hand and squeezed it tight.
“Dad, I love our family so much,” she said. “And I am so glad we’re all going together.”
President Gilbert became the 16th president of BYU-Idaho in April 2015.
In February 2017, just two years later, the Board of Education announced that President Gilbert would serve as the first president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide. This new position means the Gilbert family will be relocating from Rexburg, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, Utah, once again.
In President Gilbert’s opening devotional, titled “Rise to the Call,” he shared his excitement to serve with the students of BYU-I.
“We feel the Lord’s hand on this university,” President Gilbert said. “We also feel his love for you, the students who enroll here. In ways that are truly unique in all of higher education, this is a student-centered university.”
In a BYU-I press conference, President Gilbert said that when he was appointed to follow President Kim B. Clark, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and President Russell M. Nelson gave him and his wife the charge to teach the importance of the family and to involve their family in the work of the university.
“We have taken that stewardship not as casual council, but as something we sought deeply in personal prayer and direction,” President Gilbert said at the press conference. “I hope that the students of BYU-Idaho will remember that I love Sister Gilbert, that I love my children and that I was a great father and a devoted husband.”
President Gilbert said he would hope students would see that families can work and they can be the greatest source of happiness.
“This would be much more difficult if they weren’t all so committed to the gospel and supportive of their parents,” President Gilbert said.
At the BYU-I press conference on Feb. 9, the newly-announced 17th president, Henry J. Eyring, said he was grateful to stand on the shoulders of giants like President Gilbert.
“It will be a tall order to follow the Gilberts,” President Eyring said. “They have been so remarkable in putting not only themselves, but their amazing family out in front of the students in an inspirational way.”
While completing his graduate’s program in Boston, Massachusetts, President Gilbert was called to be a Young Men’s president. During his service, he counseled, loved and ministered to the young men, affectionately calling them the Boston Boys.
GianFranco Fernandez, a BYU-I alumnus and one of the Boston Boys, said President Gilbert helped him in many ways, but the most impactful was helping him to get into college.
“I will never forget it,” Fernandez said. “It’s kind of funny, but I don’t know what I would have done.”
Isaac Triance, a sophomore studying public health, said President Gilbert changed the lives of students on campus.
“His new position is going to be so much more beneficial in allowing people to access higher education throughout the world,” Triance said.
On Feb. 7, Elder Oaks announced President Gilbert’s new position at devotional in front of thousands of BYU-I students.
When he invited President and Sister Gilbert to the podium, students in the BYU-I Center began applauding.
Several students cheered; some cried. President Gilbert stood at the podium with his wife — his eyes glistening as he looked out at the students he had served for two years.
“Like so many others, we continue to be inspired by the people and purposes of the university,” President Gilbert said on his Facebook page. “We love this place!”
Annelise Record, a freshman studying communication, said that while she never met President Gilbert personally, she is sad to see him leave.
“He is leaving a great legacy in teaching us how we can live to the best of our potential,” Record said.