As Church Commissioner of Education, Elder Clark G. Gilbert interviewed potential students at Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University of Idaho, University of Arizona, Arizona State University and beyond.
So while addressing prospective University of Utah students and their parents at a church meeting in the university’s institute building on Sunday, November 12, Brother Gilbert noted that he did not approve of attendance. But his main message was simple: “Wherever you go, we want you to make religious education part of your college experience,” the General Authority Seventy told attendees.
About 500 Latter-day Saint high school students and their parents attended Sunday’s event, which featured the Church’s sprawling institute building adjacent to the Salt Lake City University campus and its courses, activities and programs.
In addition to Elder Gilbert, University of Utah President Taylor Randall, a Latter-day Saint and alumnus of the University of Utah institute, also participated.
In his brief remarks, Elder Gilbert gave three reasons why students should “involve the Lord in their education.”
First, “engaging the Lord will increase your spiritual resilience.”
The world needs those who have courage or who can carry on even when the going gets tough. Brother Gilbert quoted psychologist Angela Duckworth, who said, “At various times, at great and small times, we are knocked down. If we stay on the ground, the grain loses. If we stand up, courage wins.
For example, Elder Gilbert recalled being a struggling graduate student at Harvard University and wondering if he could continue. However, his wife, Sister Christine Gilbert, reminded him that they had prayed to be there and that the Lord would help them. “It gave me the courage to persevere,” he said.
Second, involving the Lord will provide access to the witnessing power of the Holy Spirit.
Elder Gilbert shared a video clip of President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, who in a 2006 talk at BYU spoke about being a struggling physics student at the University of Utah.
While studying a thermodynamics textbook, halfway through a page and in the middle of some math, young President Eyring had clear confirmation that what he was reading was true. “It was exactly the feeling I had had before as I pondered the scriptures of the Lord and have had many times since,” President Eyring recalled.
The Spirit can testify of the truth and be helpful on any subject.
Third, involving the Lord can provide an amplification of the gifts and talents of individuals.
Elder Gilbert cited the examples of Relief Society general presidents Julie B. Beck and Camille N. Johnson, who both learned to become better instruments of the Lord through education.
President Johnson said:[W]We should receive all possible education and training in order to be prepared. Ready to serve in the world and in the Church. Prepared to be wise counselors and companions to our spouses. Prepared to be effective teachers of our children and the youth we influence. The more we learn, the more we can assert our influence for good.
Elder Gilbert also thanked President Randall for his participation in the event, calling him an “innovator” and a “bridge builder – not just for our faith, but for all groups and circuits.”
In his address, President Randall invited future students to join the university community. “Bring with you your experiences, your personalities and your faith. Help us transform our college community into one that loves, serves, and builds as we learn. This university welcomes your faith and beliefs as well as the many religions and beliefs of others. We want you to feel comfortable here.
The university has extended the hand of friendship to the Church and other denominations in various ways. One way was to transform the university into something more than just a suburban campus, starting with the construction of 5,000 dormitories over the next five years.
“We are building a living lab for you to understand how you can build community,” said President Randall.
He also mentioned the partnership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation, and the University of Utah in building the Ivory University House adjacent to the institute” where students can feel comfortable living their standards.”
The 623-bed facility will include tutoring, counseling and internship opportunities for students, as well as on-site activities, fitness rooms and study areas.
President Randall concluded by telling the students, “We are making these investments and many more because we believe that you are the future of our communities and our society. You will be the ones solving clean air, energy, poverty and climate problems. You will also be the ones to bring love, service and peace to our world. Know that you are welcome here, we need you to help us love, serve and build a community we all want to live in.
During Sunday evening’s event, Troy D. Virgin, principal of the University Institute of Salt Lake City, also described many of the activities offered at the institute, and Russell Flynn, president of the Saints Student Association days, and Sadie Bowler, another LDSSA member, spoke about their experiences with the institute.