President Clark G. Gilbert worked for months before his inauguration to prepare his address to the students and faculty of BYU-Idaho on Sept. 15.
He said his preparation included counseling with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and actively studying talks and addresses that were foundational stepping stones in the creation of BYU-I.
“What became very clear to me about this university is that the Lord has been working on this place for long before I ever showed up, and my job is to discover what he had already been trying to do,” President Gilbert said.
He said he continuously studied the devotional address Elder David A. Bednar gave to the university directly following the announcement of the transition from Ricks College to BYU-I, Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talks on church education and President Henry B. Eyring’s inaugural address from 1971.
President Gilbert said he studied President Gordon B. Hinckley’s announcement of BYU-I in June 2000.
“With all the innovation that’s happened at BYU-Idaho, it’s been remarkable, but so much of it came from that initial announcement from President Hinckley,” President Gilbert said.
In the announcement, President Hinckley explained the changes to Ricks College in order to be influential to the world in the future.
“The school will have a unique role in and be distinctive from the other institutions of higher education within the Church Educational System,” President Hinckley said in the announcement.
During Elder Bednar’s devotional address, he quoted 2 Nephi 28:30 to counsel students to continue progressing in following the Lord.
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have,” according to the scripture.
Elder Bednar counseled students to continue their daily scripture study because the Lord reveals small answers over periods of time.
“If you and I would learn to discern the difference between our own emotions and the promptings of the Holy Ghost, then we must come to recognize the Lord’s pattern and process for giving us spiritual knowledge,” Elder Bednar said. “And the phrase ‘line upon line, precept upon precept,’ describes a central feature of the Lord’s pattern.”
President Gilbert said his time at BYU-I before his presidency helped him understand the student body and what it is like to work and serve on the BYU-I campus.
“It made me appreciative of the consecrated hearts that are here on the campus,” President Gilbert said. “And I think it’s very easy as the president to take that for granted and to just expect all of these amazing things out of the people, that often require great sacrifice.”
President Gilbert said the Lord expects BYU-I to be a model for other educational institutions because what happens on campus matters throughout the world, and the school’s international influence is growing.
“Part of the preparation was going back and understanding what had already been revealed here,” President Gilbert said. “And the great thing is that there were so many things in (the talks) that were confirming of where the university was, but there were also things that pushed us and pushed my thinking to go further.”
President Gilbert said he was given exactly 10 minutes to speak during the inauguration.
“That meant every word mattered,” he said.
He said he started building a list of themes he wanted to speak about and the more he prayed and counseled with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, President Henry B. Eyring and Elder Dallin H. Oaks, the list continued to increase in size.
“I had all these themes, and it meant that I had to be very precise with the words I used, and I could only introduce the themes and main topics,” President Gilbert said. “At first, I viewed that as a constraint, but it ended up being a blessing.”
He said this would leave his counsel to the university up to students’ and faculty members’ own personal revelation on how to act on it.
“The real work lies ahead of us where people will have to each individually get their own revelation,” President Gilbert said. “I think that was a real blessing.”