University of Idaho Alumni Hall of Fame to induct Pres. Benson

The University of Idaho Alumni Association is inducting President Ezra Taft Benson into its Alumni Hall of Fame.

President Benson is among five who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at commencement exercises May 13. Since President Benson is unable to travel to Moscow, Idaho, for the ceremony because of ill health, representatives of the university traveled to Salt Lake City to present the award April 27.President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, first and second counselors, respectively, in the First Presidency received a Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of President Benson. The plaque was presented in the First Presidency Board Room in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City by Elizabeth A. Zinser, president of the University of Idaho; Roy E. Mosman, president of the university's board of regents, who also is president of the Pullman Washington Stake; and Thomas O. Bell, university provost, who is a former bishop and now high priests group leader in the Moscow 2nd Ward, Pullman Washington Stake.

President Hinckley and President Monson will deliver the plaque to President Benson during a visit with him in his apartment.

Pres. Mosman, who represented the University of Idaho Alumni Association in presenting the plaque, said the association's Hall of Fame has been in existence since 1962. "It's a very special award," he said. "We are pleased that President Benson could join what is a very elect group of people who have been given this honor."

Pres. Mosman said two of three members on the selection committee for the hall of fame award are not members of the LDS Church. "One member of the committee is a Muslim," he said. "While talking about the award, he hastened to say, `This is not enough. This is not enough. This is a great man. He is a prophet.' "

Brother Bell said President Benson is being honored for his professional and humanitarian contributions. "President Benson, upon graduating with a master's degree from Iowa State University, came back to Idaho's Franklin County to run the family farm," he said. "The county commissioners in that area, knowing of his preparation and background, asked him to become county extension agent, which was a University of Idaho faculty position. That was in the early 1930s. He served there with great distinction right after the Depression, turned the county's farm program around and spent the next eight years as a faculty member of the University of Idaho, but serving the entire state as an agriculture economist, working out of the state capitol. He later had a national role in agriculture before he was called to the Council of the Twelve. Then, he was invited to join the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower for two terms as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

"President Benson did great things in those local and national roles. Then, after World War II, he was called on by the Church to oversee food distribution in Europe, which was the ultimate in humanitarian service.

"These are just some of the examples for why we believe that President Benson is most deserving of being a distinguished alumnus from the University of Idaho."

Pres. Zinser, who is not a member of the Church, said that President Benson's contributions have been numerous. "Those contributions are multiplied by many members of the Mormon faith in our university environment, which set a tone in having a major contribution in a recognition of the family as the basic unit of our society," she said.

"We have a very strong family program on our campus, both in terms of education and in the area of family and child development. We are very proud of the fact that the very first LDS institute of religion was put in place at the University of Idaho."

She said she feels that President Benson has been "very much a part of the great legacy at our university. We have a legacy with President Benson as a student - he attended one year at the University of Idaho - as a faculty member and as a person who has inspired many people.

"His whole career, as well as his work with the Church, will always have an impact on the values of the people of the University of Idaho, and on the kind of education we offer."

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