President Faust receives honorary degree

After receiving an honorary degree from his alma mater May 10, President James E. Faust lauded the University of Utah, influential teachers and the law profession.

"In my life I have been blessed to follow a brace of disciplines: advocacy and teaching," said President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.

Almost 6,500 graduates participated in the convocation ceremony, during which President Faust was honored for civic, legal and Church leadership. Also honored were Ellen G. Callister for her contributions to education and to social causes; Louis H. Callister for years of service on the University of Utah Board of Trustees and contributions to the legal profession in Utah; and Jon Jory for "voluminous work in the theatrical arts." Newly appointed Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham offered the commencement address.

During brief remarks, President Faust thanked the University of Utah. He, and his father, Judge George A. Faust, and his oldest son, Jim, comprise three generations of law school graduates. All five of President Faust's children received degrees from the University of Utah.

President Faust acknowledged the mentors in his life. "In truth my teachers have all been legion," he said. "I am grateful to all from whom I have learned. My noble parents and grandparents in love, kindness and firmness were special teachers. I have learned much from my children and grandchildren, whom we dearly love. In the sacred, intimate family relationship, my Ruth has taught me more than anyone else about what is most important in life."

President Faust spoke of three teachers: James E. Moss, a Granite High School seminary teacher; Emma Rae McKay Ashton, a speech teacher at Granite High and daughter of President David O. McKay; and University of Utah Law School Dean William H. Leary. "Having these outstanding teachers, I should have done better," he said.

President Faust acknowledged another great teacher, "even the greatest of all."

"I must acknowledge the learning that has come to me in my life from the Holy Spirit of God," he said. "At times this knowledge has come, and it could not possibly have come from any other source."

Concluding, President Faust said he was pleased the other honorees were also lawyers. "For those who say there will be no lawyers in heaven, I would remind you that the greatest teacher of all of us is our Advocate with the Father and He will plead our cause before the throne of grace.

"John W. Davis, an eminent New York lawyer and head of David & Polk law firm, described the role of lawyers as follows: 'We build no bridges. . . . We paint no pictures. . . . There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens, and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.'

"I am forever grateful for what this university has done to help me to try to become both an advocate and a teacher. For me it has been a very satisfying uniting of these two disciplines. If I could live my life over again I would wish to follow the same path."