Ten years before Utah became a state, a group of local businessmen gathered together to pull together the resources and the support needed to form a college located in downtown Salt Lake City. Their purpose was to create a place where secular and spiritual knowledge could coexist in an educational setting. Karl G. Maeser — an educator who had already helped to organize other academies — was asked to help develop the new academy and became the college's first president in 1886. Now 125 years later, students and alumni from around the world are celebrating that small group who helped to establish what is known today as LDS Business College.
In an effort to celebrate the legacy of the college and to welcome in the future, a celebration was held on the college's campus on Sept. 21. A crowd of students, faculty and community members gathered to the college's current campus to sing "Happy Birthday" and participate in games and activities. Included in the celebration was a launch of 1,000 table tennis balls from the roof of the LDS Business College.
"We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us in a very meaningful way," said J. Lawrence (Larry) Richards, LDS Business College president. "We reverence that history, and as we stand on the shoulders we see new horizons."
What started out as a single small room with one teacher and a handful of students, has now become a college of more than 2,000 students from around the world. The courses offered — much like in the past — tend to be career-based education so that graduates are able to enter to the work force upon graduation. Courses in interior design, paralegal studies, medical administrative assistant and accounting are some of those offered, along with a general studies program that goes towards a transfer to a larger university.
"The college has changed much since 1886, but in other ways it hasn't changed at all," said President Richards. "It continues to focus on skills ... [for] the marketplace and the spiritual skills to contribute to the kingdom of God. Those who come here and are willing to be taught by the Lord will take away spiritual development and an anchoring for the rest of their lives."
Although the purposes are the same as they were in 1886, the faces of LDS Business College have changed immensely over the past few decades. Today, the student body comes from all 50 states, as well as 64 countries outside of the United States.
"The more students you meet, the more stories you hear," President Richards said. "Some are wonderful stories and some are of hardship, where with the Lord's help, these students will be lifted up. Students come from all economic and social backgrounds, but as their hearts are united, they are able to teach and learn in the Lord's way. It is wonderful."
According to Craig V. Nelson, vice president of advancement for LDS Business College, the school is more global than it has ever been, and has seen — for the most part — a constant growth since its beginnings.
"We have seen a 52 percent growth rate from 2006 to today," he said. "What that statistic says is that the kind of institution we are today speaks to the many students for whom a two-year get-in-and-get-out education to start the next part of your life is exactly what they need. We have been doing that for the last 125 years."
It is through education — combining the secular with the spiritual — that individuals are able to build up the Church around them and become who the Lord would have them become, said President Richards.
"The key to Church growth is leadership, and the key to leadership is education," he said. "LDS Business College has a rich tradition of teaching people to make a contribution immediately."
What was first known as the Salt Lake Academy, LDS Business College as we know it today has been through a lot of changes in location, name and courses offered.
It has been known by a total of four names — the Salt Lake Academy, LDS College, LDS University, and, since 1931 it has been known as LDS Business College.
The school has changed campus addresses eight times, usually because of growth. Although it has changed locales multiple times, all of them have been within a few blocks of Temple Square. In 1902, a campus of large buildings was constructed where the Church Office Building now stands. After being there for 60 years, the school moved to the Wall Mansion where it stayed for 44 years, until the college moved to the current Triad Campus, located at 95 N. 300 West, a few blocks west of Temple Square. Some of the other buildings in downtown Salt Lake that housed the college include: Social Hall, the Lion House and the Templeton Building located on South Temple and Main St.
Although the college doesn't have any official sports teams today, at different times it had a men's football, basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, golf and track teams called the "Saints."
The women also had tennis, hockey, baseball and basketball teams. Some of the clubs LDS Business College has had over the years include the Seagull Club, which was dedicated to doing good deeds, and other groups dedicated to good morals, clean living, sportsmanship, good fellowship and high scholarship.
Today, the college abides by an honor code, much like other Church-owned schools.
Past faculty members and alumni include many known names in the Church. Elder James E. Talmage who served as an apostle was the principal from 1888-1892; Willard Young, the son of President Brigham Young, was the principal from 1905-1915. Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley, parents of President Gordon B. Hinckley, were on the faculty staff in the early 1900s. Elder Russell M. Nelson attended LDS Business College to learn shorthand prior to his studies at other universities.
"What we do here is under the Lord's direction as led by the board of trustees," President Richards said. "It is a place where students can come and build — build for themselves, for their family, for their community — and for the Lord's Church."