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'Go forward in leading BYU to new heights'

Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, university's 12th president

PROVO, Utah — Absent the pomp and circumstance traditionally displayed during inauguration ceremonies, President Gordon B. Hinckley installed Elder Cecil O. Samuelson as the 12th president of Brigham Young University Sept. 9.

President Gordon B. Hinckley watches as Sharon Samuelson puts the finishing touches on her husband Cecil O. Samuelson.  Samuelson received a medallion during the official installation of Samuelson as President of BYU. Inauguration of BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson at the Marriott Center.  Sept. 9, 2003.  Photo by Stuart Johnson (Submission date: 09/09/2003)
President Gordon B. Hinckley watches as Sharon Samuelson puts the finishing touches on her husband Cecil O. Samuelson. Samuelson received a medallion during the official installation of Samuelson as President of BYU. Inauguration of BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson at the Marriott Center. Sept. 9, 2003. Photo by Stuart Johnson (Submission date: 09/09/2003)

During the mid-day installation held in the BYU Marriott Center and attended by Church, government, civic and education leaders, President Hinckley charged President Samuelson to "go forward in leading the university to new heights of honor, achievement and recognition."

President Hinckley's counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, were among the near-capacity crowd of more than 23,000. Also in attendance were BYU students, faculty and staff; members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, other General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders; and outgoing BYU President Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy.

The simple, cost-effective ceremony was held during the school's weekly one-hour devotional slot. The academic processional included those seated on the stand, among whom were presidents of other universities. With the exception of those participating in the processional, the BYU faculty did not wear academic regalia. And in place of a formal ball or banquet, President Samuelson and the BYU Student Service Association hosted a "Campus Home Evening" Sept. 10.

"I think this should be the shortest and therefore the most appreciated investiture of which I know," President Hinckley told the congregation at the beginning of the inauguration ceremony.

The women's section of the Combined Choir sings at Inauguration of BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson at the Marriott Center.  Sept. 9, 2003.  Photo by Stuart Johnson (Submission date: 09/09/2003)
The women's section of the Combined Choir sings at Inauguration of BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson at the Marriott Center. Sept. 9, 2003. Photo by Stuart Johnson (Submission date: 09/09/2003)

Then to President Samuelson, he said: "We have known you for a good while. We have admired your professional skills. We are familiar with the depths of your spirituality. To you we say, go forward in your great role of leadership on this campus."

President Hinckley charged President Samuelson to move the university forward "on its destined course as one of the great institutions of this nation."

Of the role of BYU, President Hinckley said, "Here we are doing what is not done in any other major university of which I am aware. We are demonstrating that faith in the Almighty can accompany and enrich scholarship in the secular. It is more than an experiment. It is an accomplishment."

BYU, President Hinckley said, must continue to strengthen its scholarship in every discipline. "But with that we must never let down on our determination to teach faith in the Living God, to build testimony of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to teach the validity of the Holy Bible and of its companion scripture, the Book of Mormon, and to build conviction concerning the restoration of the gospel in this the dispensation of the fulness of times."

To the BYU staff, President Hinckley extended a charge to keep the campus "beautiful, clean and conducive to habits of order in the lives of those who use these facilities."

To the BYU faculty, he said that they should not have failures on the Church campus. "We are more than teachers. We are shepherds. And we know that the spirit of shepherding resides in the hearts of those who serve here."

President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks to the audience during inauguration ceremony for new BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson, right.
President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks to the audience during inauguration ceremony for new BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson, right.

To the BYU students, President Hinckley spoke of great hopes and high expectations. "I need not remind you that you are a very select group. You have been carefully chosen. We want you to know that all who serve you here desire that you be successful, that you will have a wonderful experience, that you will be immensely happy and very proud of the institution of which you are a part."

Mediocrity, he told the students, will never do.

"You are capable of something better. Give it your very best. You will never again have such an opportunity. Pray about it. Work at it. Make it happen. Drink in the great knowledge here to be obtained from this dedicated faculty. Qualify yourselves for the work of the world which lies ahead …. Walk the high road of charity, respect and love for others, and particularly those who are less fortunate. Be happy. Look for the sunlight in life. Reach for the stars."

Finally, President Hinckley told the students that their family relationships will be their greatest treasures. "Look to the example of your president," he said. "He and his beloved companion, Sharon, have walked side by side with love in their hearts through all the years of their association. Make them your shining example."

President Samuelson began his remarks by thanking the audience.

A wave of BYU students and others rolls past the image of the school's namesake, Brigham Young, on banner announcing the inauguration of the institution's newest president.
A wave of BYU students and others rolls past the image of the school's namesake, Brigham Young, on banner announcing the inauguration of the institution's newest president. Photo: Photo by Mark A. Philbrick

"So much has been done by so many," he said. "I am frankly embarrassed, but am constantly reminded that today is not about me. It is about this wonderful place and idea we know as Brigham Young University."

The investiture ceremony, he said, is not the time for long explications.

"It is a day to look to our future. I do so with eagerness and a sense of anxious anticipation for what we might accomplish in this next season of illustrious history of Brigham Young University."

One can see the future more clearly, he continued, when they understand more fully the past.

"We always must keep in mind our sacred mission: to seek the best of academic and scholastic achievement within the enfolding environment and sustaining power of abiding faith in our Heavenly Father, His Son our Savior, and in the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"We cannot neglect or be passive about either our environment of faith or our commitment to academic excellence. In all that we do, we want to bless our students by never allowing the balance between these fundamental basics to become tilted in any direction."

President Samuelson said the focus of BYU must be on the students.

"All kinds of learning are possible without the university," he said. "However, the university, and particularly this university, provides a special milieu, environment and means that maximize not only the accumulation of knowledge, but more importantly enhances the capacity of the individual to learn more ably, profoundly and effectively in the related realms of scholarship, science and worldly knowledge, and in the spheres of faith, spirituality and Christian service."

President Gordon B. Hinckley with his wife Sister Marjorie Hinckley waves to the audience at the end of the  Inauguration of BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson at the Marriott Center.  Sept. 9, 2003.  Photo by Stuart Johnson (Submission date: 09/09/2003)
President Gordon B. Hinckley with his wife Sister Marjorie Hinckley waves to the audience at the end of the Inauguration of BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson at the Marriott Center. Sept. 9, 2003. Photo by Stuart Johnson (Submission date: 09/09/2003) Photo: Photo by Mark A. Philbrick

Finally, he said, that while students enter the university to learn, they can also gain much by serving.

"As we go forth to serve, we strive to continue to learn so that our service in every sphere can be more productive, effective and consistent with those things we hold most dear."

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