In his final commencement speech as president of BYU-Idaho, President Henry J. Eyring admonished graduating students to trust in Heavenly Father’s plan.
“Heavenly Father knows each of us perfectly,” President Eyring said. “And wherever we are, the path to success and satisfaction is prepared. That is because Jesus Christ has overcome all worldly influences.”
He also talked about the heritage of BYU-I and the responsibility of graduates to continue to represent the school in a good way.
President Eyring also shared the statistics of the spring 2023 graduating class as follows:
— 2,909 students received diplomas
— 2,111 students received bachelor’s degrees
— 894 students received associate’s degrees
— Of these graduates, 1,188 were online students
— Of these graduates, 1,267 began as BYU-Pathway Worldwide students
At the conclusion of his talk, President Eyring invited Academic Vice President Jon Linford to present the graduation candidates. When Linford had done so, President Eyring took the podium again to tell graduates the words they’d been working so long to hear.
“Graduates, you are now alumni of BYU-Idaho.”
Elder Clark G. Gilbert
Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a former president of BYU-I and the current Church commissioner of education, talked about the uniqueness of BYU-I.
“Here at BYU-Idaho, the students are and always will be the focus of everything we do,” Elder Clark said.
He said that each student was brought to BYU-I by the Lord for a specific purpose. He quoted 2 Nephi 1:6: “… None come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.”
Elder Gilbert commissioned graduates to bless others as they go forward.
“The Lord has brought you here for a purpose and now you have an opportunity to bless those you serve across the Church,” Elder Gilbert said.
Elder David A. Bednar
Another former president of BYU-I, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave the keynote speech at the Spring 2023 Commencement.
After extending his congratulations to graduates and reminiscing about his own years at BYU-I, Elder Bednar talked about the number of commencement ceremonies he’s participated in, as well as all the capacities he’s held at those ceremonies.
“My experience, however, in commencement ceremonies has helped me learn a very valuable lesson,” Elder Bednar said. “Namely, graduates and their families care little and rarely remember anything a commencement speaker says.”
Elder Bednar promised to keep his remarks short.
Elder Bednar expressed his appreciation for President and Sister Eyring. He also talked about the impact they’ve had on the school.
“The most important contribution the Eyrings have made to this university is what they did not change,” Elder Bednar said.
He talked about his dedication speech of the BYU-Idaho Center in 2006. He’d warned that if people ever became entitled or demanding, the Spirit of Ricks would eventually be extinguished and the heavenly influence would be withdrawn. If people would be humble, the university would be a beacon.
Through tears, Elder Bednar thanked the Eyrings.
“On behalf of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I express gratitude to President and Sister Eyring for all you have done and for all that you are,” he said.
He called for one final round of applause for the Eyrings, which quickly evolved into a standing ovation.
“Believing is seeing”
Elder Bednar talked about the various methods he’s used to form conclusions throughout his life. Professionally, he employed a “seeing is believing” approach, requiring the scientific method and reliable statistics in order to make key decisions.
“In my work life, I was a natural man in a fallen world, using secular methodologies to address a wide variety of truly important concerns and challenges,” Elder Bednar said.
But he warned that mortal methods can only go so far and can only do so much.
“These cognitive frameworks and analysis techniques ultimately cannot address the questions of the soul,” Elder Bednar said.
He then juxtaposed the beliefs of Korihor and Alma. Korihor ridiculed people for believing in something they couldn’t see, while Alma said that faith is to believe in something without seeing it. Elder Bednar capped it off with Moroni’s promise.
“By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
Elder Bednar closed his remarks with another round of congratulations for the graduates, followed by his apostolic witness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer, and with all the energy of my soul, I witness that He lives,” Elder Bednar said.