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Devotionals

President Bruce C. Kusch

President Bruce C. Kusch
President Kusch
President Bruce C. Kusch began his Church Educational System employment as a member of the business management faculty at Brigham Young University–Idaho in August 2002.

In July 2008, he was named associate academic vice president for curriculum at BYU–Idaho, serving in that capacity until June 2012 when he was called to serve as president of the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.

President Kusch returned to BYU-Idaho in July 2015 as associate dean of online programs.

Before joining the BYU-Idaho faculty, President Kusch worked as a sales and marketing executive and management consultant for various high-technology firms in the San Francisco Bay Area.

President Kusch holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix, an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and a Ph.D. in instructional design from Idaho State University.

In May 2012, he was awarded the Kole-McGuffey Prize from the College of Education at Idaho State University, recognizing him as the outstanding doctoral candidate for his research in creating significant online learning environments.

President Kusch has served the LDS Church in many capacities, including full-time missionary (Guatemala-El Salvador Mission), elders quorum president, bishop, stake president and mission president. He currently serves as a member of the North Salt Lake Utah Parkway Stake high council.

President Bruce C. Kusch became the 13th president of LDS Business College on April 17, 2017, where he had been serving as its chief academic officer since March 2016.

President Kusch and his wife, Alynda, were married in the Los Angeles California Temple in 1974. They are the parents of four children and have 15 grandchildren. His interests include running, biking, fly fishing, photography and outdoor cooking.

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Brothers and sisters, how I wish that we were gathered in the Assembly Hall and that sister Kusch and I had the opportunity to greet each and every one of you and look into your faces as you entered. I am confident that day will come but until it does, we will be content and grateful that technology makes it possible to be with you wherever you are.

A little more than six months ago we gathered in the Assembly Hall as Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of the Church Educational System announced three historic LDS Business College institutional adjustments. First, that on September 1st LDS Business College would become Ensign College. Second, that beginning with the fall 2021 semester, Ensign College would offer a limited number of Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. And, third, that Ensign College would offer more of its unique job-ready curriculum online, primarily in collaboration with BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

These past months, as we have worked to implement these adjustments, have been remarkable. Time does not permit a detailed explanation of everything that has taken place, but we have felt and witnessed the Lord’s hand in this effort. This is His school. This is His work. And these changes were approved by the Board in what I am certain are according to the Lord’s timing.

On July 26, 1847 just two days after arriving in the Salt Lake valley Brigham Young, with members of the Quorum of the Twelve and several others climbed to peak overlooking the valley where they determined it would be a good place to raise an ensign to the nations. Symbolically tying a yellow bandana to a pole, they waved it as a signal to the world of gathering of Israel, which had long been prophesied. From the top of that peak you can clearly see the Ensign College building.

On four different occasions, over the past several months, I have walked the path to the top of Ensign Peak. Many of our employees have done the same. From the bottom of the trail you can’t actually see much of the peak. It’s only when you make the effort to reach the top that you have a full view of all that this place has become.

Each time I have gazed across the valley to witness the fulfillment of what Brigham Young may have envisioned in 1847 I am grateful for what this sacred place means in the history of the Restoration. I am grateful the Board of Trustees approved our recommendation to rename LDS Business College Ensign College. It is a fitting name for the work we are engaged in as an institution.

So, two weeks ago today, we officially became Ensign College. I am pleased to announce that the first of our bachelor’s degrees – in Business Management – has received full accreditation approval by our regional accreditor. And as we begin the semester there are more than 2500 BYU-Pathway students around the world enrolled in Ensign College online courses. And while our reach as an institution becomes more global, our work will always be to educate students one by one.

In his remarks Elder Johnson stated that the purpose of the adjustments, approved by the Board of Trustees, was to “better serve the students who attend the school now, and in the future.” In my remarks I stated that, “…the changes announced this morning are for the sole purpose of blessing and serving the students who attend here now, who will attend here in the future, and to bless and serve many who will never come here, but will feel of our love as we reach them and teach them through the means of technology.”

Since its inception this institution has always been focused on preparing well-qualified graduates to assume responsible positions in the workplace, with a personal foundation anchored on and in Jesus Christ and the doctrines of His gospel, instilling within them a moral compass of ethics, integrity, and a desire to contribute to the good of society wherever they may be.

One might think those aims are appropriately designed for a student body of young adults and even older adults seeking valuable skills to help them earn a living. While that is true today, it was not until 1931 that LDS Business College began offering only college-level courses. There was an attempt to add college-level courses, and even a bachelor’s degree in the early years of the 20th century but those efforts failed, and there was only one person who graduated with a bachelor’s degree. I am confident we will have more success than that as we begin offering our bachelor’s degrees next year!

The author and historian David McCullough once said, “History is who we are, and why we are the way we are.” As we begin this new era in the history is Ensign College, I think it’s appropriate to understand a little about its history.

I am going to describe a little of our history, but I also want to show you a beautiful creation of textile art that will soon be on display in the west lobby at the college. It is a representation of the school’s history and is an original creation designed and lovingly handstitched over the summer by Sister Kusch. Once it is on display you will be able to see a complete explanation of all that is depicted in the quilt’s design.

In 1886, William B. Dougall gathered a group of local leaders from Salt Lake City to consider a proposal to create a school for the youth of the city. But it was a meeting that nearly ended before it began.

The night before the scheduled meeting a fire broke out in the bookstore of James Dwyer, where the gathering was to be held. But with a determination to move forward under any circumstances, the meeting took place. Sitting amongst the burned out remains of the store, on wooden boxes, with water dripping on them, plans were made, and the school opened several months later, on November 15, 1886.

From these beginnings until 1931 the institution was primarily a junior high and high school.

The continued existence of this school has not always been certain. It has experienced some very challenging financial conditions during the 134 years since its inception. An ongoing commitment of financial support from the Church did not begin until 1986 – only 34 years ago! Is it any wonder, then, that sacrifice, hard work, determination, and frugality are traits that have always characterized the college, and that should continue to characterize us today? The word I would use to describe the pervasive attitude that has helped Ensign College persevere through challenging times and circumstances is scrappy. Committed and consecrated scrappiness must continue to be a virtue we all practice every day on this campus – and it is a virtue we should teach, model and exemplify for our students. Some might also call this grit.

Our new name, Ensign College, is the sixth name of the school since its 1886 inception.

From 1886 to 1890 it was known as the Salt Lake Stake Academy. From 1890 to 1901 it was LDS College. For 26 years, from 1901 to 1927 it was LDS University. From 1927 to 1931 it took the name again of LDS College. And then in 1931 it became LDS Business College. In addition to five previous names, Ensign College has occupied 16 buildings in Salt Lake City’s downtown area and has had 13 presidents.

Those presidents have ranged in age from 21 to 65 as they began their service and served from 1 to 25 years. Two were born in Europe, 10 in Utah, and 1 in California – but that one lone Californian has deep Utah pioneer roots.

You might recognize the names of several former presidents: Karl G. Maeser, James E. Talmage, Stephen K. Woodhouse, and J. Lawrence Richards. But we also honor the service of Willard Done, Joshua Paul, Willard Young, Guy Wilson, F.Y. Fox, Kenneth Bennion, Ferris Kirkham, and Kenneth Beesley. Because of their collective efforts we stand today on shoulders of greatness.

Six names. Sixteen locations. Thirteen presidents. Operations as a junior high, a high school, a two-year college, and soon offering bachelor’s degrees that will certainly produce many, many graduates in the years to come.

Reflecting on all of this, one should easily conclude that institutional change is woven into the fabric and tapestry of this school.

A recurring theme in the Book of Mormon is the importance of remembering. Remembering God’s deliverance on many occasions. Remembering the Savior’s mercy. Remembering His infinite and eternal Atonement. Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, were given their names with the specific and stated purpose that they might remember the original Nephi and Lehi, to remember their works, and to remember that they were good (Helaman 5:6).

So, as we are appropriately excited about the changes we are implementing, as we look forward to a future filled with limitless opportunities, it is essential that we always remember and honor those who laid the foundations of this school. Those who had a vision of what it should be and would be. Those who led, those who sacrificed, those who were committed to seeing that this school would not only survive but thrive.

So, what has made this institution great and will continue to make this institution great?

As important as is our new name it’s clearly NOT about a name.

The school has occupied 16 different buildings. It’s clearly NOT about a building.

What it IS about is the heart. Your heart, and my heart.

Elder David A. Bednar said: “Our hearts – the sum total of our desires, affections, intentions, motives, and attitudes – define who we are and determine what we will become.”

The employees of Ensign College come to work every day with a determination to provide the very best experience possible for every single student to help them become a capable and trusted disciple of Jesus Christ.

I want our students to know of the depth of our unwavering belief in your divine potential as children of God. There is no limit to the worth of your soul. We love you and are committed to your success as students, as leaders, as parents, as contributors in your profession, your family, your community, and the Church. The Lord needs committed Latter-day Saints, who are determined to build the kingdom of God at all time and in all places.

My heart and your heart should be filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the privilege of working, learning, and serving at an institution of higher education, sponsored and supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Students, please understand, that before you receive any financial aid of any kind, you have already received a generous scholarship based on the resources that are provided by the First Presidency and Board of Trustees of Ensign College. They do this because they love you, and because they understand the incomparable value of receiving an education. I hope your gratitude, appreciation, and understanding of the generosity of the Church will be demonstrated in the way you live your lives and apply yourselves to study and learn and prepare for a bright future.

Now, brothers and sisters, as this semester begins, and as we embark on this new season in the history of Ensign College, I extend an invitation to each of us to commit to making a positive, personal contribution to the spirit, environment, experience, and reputation of Ensign College wherever we are and wherever we go. Every interaction we have with one another should be such that it invites the presence and influence of the Holy Ghost. Over my years of service here many have commented, “When I am on this campus, I feel the Spirit so strongly.” I would simply say it’s not about the campus; rather, it’s about the hearts and goodness of the students and the people who learn, work and serve here.

Now, perhaps a final comment about our name: Ensign College. It is the right name at the right time for the school. However, as I said earlier in my remarks, the name of the school, in and of itself, does not make it great. But there is much in the way of symbolic importance about the word ensign.

President Boyd K. Packer once said, “The ensign to which all of us are to rally is Jesus Christ…we look forward with faith. We have seen many events in our lifetime, and many will yet occur that will tax our courage and extend our faith. We are to ‘rejoice, and be exceeding glad’…we will face the challenges, for we cannot avoid them, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach of Him as our Savior and our Refuge, our Redeemer…

“We are not to be afraid…we are to be happy and positive. Fear is the opposite of faith.”

There is no question we are living in challenging times and living through something we have never lived through before. There are essential things to be learned that will be preparatory for challenges we will face in the future. Look for the spiritual lessons to be learned and then apply them. While masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing all help protect us physically, much more important are the spiritual protections that come from deepening our faith in Heavenly Father and in the Savior; from testimonies that are firm and a conversion to Christ and the gospel that is steadfast and immovable.

Many of us are very new to Ensign College. New students come every semester. If the spirit of what this institution has been known for during its 134 years of existence is to continue, it will be because you and I learn, and work, and serve with hearts knit together in unity and love, manifesting a godly walk and conversation at all times, in all things and in all places.

Of the many miracles I have witnessed during my time as president, there is one, generally, that I cherish the most: it is witnessing how the Lord magnifies our resources and magnifies the talents and capacity of our students and employees to achieve what was once thought impossible, or at least improbable. So many students have said to me, “I came to LDS Business College and learned that I could achieve more than I ever thought possible.”

I have learned, have witnessed, and testify that when we move forward with humility, and a desire to work according to the will of the Lord, and according to His timing, and in alignment with His chosen prophets, we will see that He has gone before us, preparing the way, and opening the way to accomplish what He desires for us to accomplish. And, it will be more than we ever thought possible.

I express my love and appreciation and respect for each of you. We have made remarkable progress since late February when our institutional adjustments were announced. And, it’s all been done in an environment and under conditions that disrupted everything we knew about our work at Ensign College. There is no doubt that we have received heavenly help.

We will look back on this season of our lives and truly say they were days never to be forgotten. I would just add these ARE days never to be forgotten.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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