Elder Andersen dedicates new institute building at ASU Polytechnic Campus

Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: John Power
Credit: John Power
Credit: John Power


Urging students to make it welcome to all, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated a new institute building April 19 at the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus in Mesa.

“I pray that you will open our building up to the other students here. That other people can feel comfortable — those not of our faith can play basketball or sit quietly,” he said. “We are long past those days where we need associate only with fellow members.”

Further, Elder Andersen said, “Let us be a light to the campus. Let us not be a cloistered building where we hide ourselves from others on campus.”

He cited a recent study that showed decreasing faith in religion among millennials.

“Much greater, our role is to invite all to come unto Christ,” he said, instructing the young people in the packed audience to hold up the light of Christ and the knowledge of God to all those around them.

“He loves all His children,” Elder Andersen said, stressing the importance of reaching out to those around them to encourage turning their attention to God. “Whether you are a member of our church or not, I want to assure you that He knows you, that you are known of Him,” he said. “If you will turn your attention to Him with faith … you will feel something, something unique, something more than you have felt before,” he said.

Part of Church members’ role is to help others increase their faith, he said. Paul said, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Elder Andersen was accompanied by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, who also spoke to the students.

“It is my testimony that as you gather here in this beautiful setting, the foundation of your faith may be strengthened and sustained and lifted, not only for now, but for the days and years to come,” she said.

ASU President Michael Crow accompanied the Andersens and spoke to the students during the program. Elder Andersen praised Dr. Crow for his efforts and contributions to make the new building possible.

“We honor him and thank him for his courage,” he said. “He is unafraid to stand with us.”

Dr. Crow was in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony of the building with Elder Andersen on Sept. 9, 2013. He attended and spoke at the dedication of the Tempe Institute Building in 2007.

At the dedication of the new institute building, Dr. Crow spoke of Thomas Jefferson and the importance of religious freedom throughout the history of the United States. He said that something happened in the evolution of “people’s universities” to a belief and practices that to be a secular institution they had to “abandon all relationships with and all connections to religious organizations.”

“I am completely certain it is an error,” he said of such belief and practices.

“The university, as the country, must find a way, and as it is structured, to recognize the ability of every individual to exercise their complete and total liberty, including their religious liberty, inside and within and amongst their entire learning process,” he declared.

He said his efforts to evolve ASU are built on the idea of “inclusion” that is drawn back to Jeffersonian ideas of religious liberty.

Two students, Gilbert Flores and Aubree Heninger, were asked impromptu to share their thoughts about the institute program.

The new building, on the northwest corner of Innovation Way North and South Sterling Avenue, will serve about 1,250 students from the Polytechnic Campus, Chandler Gilbert Community College, Mesa Gateway Pathway Program and ASU Charter School, according to Church leaders.

It will also house three congregations, including the Indigo Bay YSA Ward, Temple View YSA Ward and Gateway Married Student Ward.

The 25,000-square-foot building includes a chapel, large cultural hall for activities and sports, classrooms for religious instruction and offices.

With the dedication of the institute building on the Polytechnic campus, ASU now has two LDS institute buildings.

On Saturday evening, Elder and Sister Andersen met with about 2,000 young single adults from five YSA stakes in the Phoenix metro area. The meeting, held in the LDS institute building on ASU’s main campus, was video streamed to other locations.

Elder Andersen had asked the stake presidents to assign the young single adults to come to the meeting prepared to share brief statements how they were going to incorporate into their lives something they had learned from talks given in general conference.

At Elder Andersen’s request, several young adults stood in the audience and made their statements. Some commented on the number of conference talks about marriage and family. Elder Andersen asked from where they thought speakers at conference received their assignments. He then said they were assigned from heaven, and that talks are given to help members in the midst of what is going on in the world.

Elder and Sister Andersen alternated in addressing the young single adults. In one of her presentations, Sister Andersen spoke of when the Andersen family lived in Florida and how they waited anxiously for the Ensign magazine containing conference talks to arrive about a month after the conference. One time, she went to a shop and copied off all the talks for each member of the family. She initially thought the copying fee of $50 was too much, but the Spirit whispered, “What is it worth to your family to have the words of the apostles and prophets?”

Sister Andersen said, “How fortunate we are to have living oracles and to be able to incorporate their words into our lives. What you hear said in conference is from prophets, seers and revelators.”

Elder Andersen made a power point presentation of poll results that show by decade from baby boomers to the current millennials the decline in a belief in God, a belief that Jesus Christ lived and a belief in the Atonement.

He told the young single adults that they need to strengthen their generation’s belief.

Elder Andersen concluded by bearing his testimony that Jesus Christ lives, that He appeared to Joseph Smith with His Father and that the gospel will continue to shape the lives of people all over the world.

After returning to Salt Lake City, Elder Andersen said, “Whenever I am in Arizona I am impressed with the growing strength and contribution of our members there. The Presidency of the Arizona Senate and the Chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents (both members of the Church) attended the dedication of the institute.

“The youth are a reflection of this strength. They are full of testimony and devotion. As I shook hands with the young adults I was pleased to meet dozens of new members and investigators.”

— Julie Greer contributed to this report

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