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Why Ensign College?

Sep 2020

In a devotional on February 25, 2020, Elder Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced that LDS Business College would be renamed Ensign College. The new name was only the beginning. He further reiterated that Ensign College would continue to offer its students much more than programs in business and that this name change would be a catalyst for reintroducing the college and all that it offers.

Elder Johnson gave a historical perspective when he said, “On July 26, 1847, two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young and several other men hiked to the top of a mountain he had seen in a vision prior to beginning the trek west. That spot, Ensign Peak, rises just north of where we’re gathered today in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.”

picture of the Ensign College Building in Salt Lake City, Utah

Elder Johnson went on to announce that beginning in the fall 2021 semester, Ensign College will offer a limited number of four-year bachelor of applied science (BAS) degrees. This type of degree is unique in its focus on preparing students with the in-demand skills employers are requesting. It is anticipated that BAS degrees will be offered in business management, communications, and information technology. The majority of the certificates and programs currently offered by the college will be stackable into one of these degrees.

President Bruce C. Kusch has expounded on this subject by saying that “80 percent of our students are enrolled in programs that require them to transfer. We began to feel like there was a need we could fill that wasn’t being filled anywhere else. Many of our students were transferring to nonchurch schools. Many of our students would prefer to stay and finish a degree with us. It will be more affordable for them, and because of personal circumstances, many are not in a position to move to attend another school. This led us to propose offering a limited number of bachelor’s degrees. We believe this will complement the offerings by the other CES schools. One of the purposes of the BAS degree is to fill gaps in curriculum.”

Another amazing change announced by Elder Johnson is that Ensign College will also begin serving a broader audience throughout the Church by offering much of its unique, job-ready curriculum online, facilitated primarily through BYU–Pathway Worldwide. This will allow Ensign College to develop and award certificates and degrees that will benefit not only students attending its Salt Lake City campus but also members of the Church learning virtually around the world.

Following Elder Johnson’s remarks, President Kusch said, “Currently, and many of you may not know this, but currently, there are hundreds of students around the world already taking online courses that were created here at LDS Business College. We will have the opportunity of extending the blessings of learning to thousands in the not-too-distant future. Technology has made possible the remarkable growth of online education—and our shared opportunity is to create learning experiences that are not only convenient and uplifting but compelling and powerful.”

Elder Johnson concluded his announcement by stating that “the school’s mission and its charge to produce graduates who are spiritually well-grounded and professionally prepared will not change. In fact, we are confident its ability to do so will be enhanced by these adjustments.”

President Kusch followed Elder Johnson’s charge by reminding the LDSBC family gathered that there is much to be grateful for: “Now, as you have heard this announcement for these adjustments, I would imagine that our hearts and minds are filled with thoughts, emotions, I hope a great deal of excitement, but above all, I hope that each of us is filled with a deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving. With the approval and the support of the First Presidency, who are the officers of the board of trustees, and the full board of trustees, the Lord has bestowed a glorious blessing upon this institution and us. Speaking at the 1899 commencement exercises of then LDS College, Karl G. Maeser declared that its future would be more glorious than its past. That has been true, and I believe it will continue to be true so long as those of us who learn and serve at the college do so with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving.”

So why Ensign College? President Kusch went on to explain. “An ensign is defined as a banner, a standard, or a symbol,” he said. “The scriptures use the word ensign to describe the new and everlasting covenant, as a symbol of peace, as a guide for the gathering of Israel, and as a light to be a standard to the nations. As we embrace a new name, I invite each of us to think more carefully about that light and being a standard of righteousness. The Savior reminded the Nephites that He was the light they were to hold up to the world. Students come from all over the world to this college to study and to learn, and our graduates can be found throughout the world. Becoming capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ is how we hold Him, His example, and His everlasting gospel up as a light, as a standard, and as an ensign everywhere we go. . . . The lives that we live and the example we set will be the measure of the success of this institution now and for generations to come.”

Ensign Peak has become a symbol of the “spirit of international outreach and the ancient promise that here one could learn the ways of God.”1 Throughout its history, LDS Business College, located at the base of Ensign Peak, has provided such an environment and will now continue to do so with the new name of Ensign College.

To read the full devotionals, visit here.

Note

1. Dean L. May, quoted in Lynn Arave, “In Utah History, Ensign Peak Has a Lofty Prominence,” Deseret News, 25 July 2010, deseret.com/2010/7/26/20130131/in-utah-history-ensign-peak-has-a-lofty-prominence#people-enjoy-the-view-from-ensign-peak.