The 131-year-old LDS Business College is changing its name while expanding it’s educational offerings, both at its Salt Lake City campus and across the globe.
The Salt Lake City-based school will now be called Ensign College. This change is effective Sept. 1, 2020, in conjunction with the new school year. The school will also begin offering a limited number of bachelor degrees beginning fall 2021.
These changes were announced Tuesday, Feb. 25, at a devotional for students and faculty at the Assembly Hall.
The two-year school, originally called the Salt Lake Academy, opened in 1886.
Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System, called Tuesday “an exciting day” for a storied institution committed to helping students learn “both meaningful skills and the ways of the Lord.”
Elder Johnson spoke of Brigham Young hiking to the top of a mountain on July 26, 1847, two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, which the latter-day prophet had seen in a vision prior to beginning the pioneer trek West.
That often-climbed site, Ensign Peak, is just a short distance from where the Assembly Hall stands today.
In that same spirit, he said, “we announce that LDS Business College is to be renamed Ensign College.”
New educational opportunities and partnerships
Many students who squeezed into the Assembly Hall on Tuesday were thrilled to learn that they would soon enjoy opportunities to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree at an educational institution they have come to love.
It’s anticipated that bachelor degrees will be offered in business management, communications and information technology. The majority of the certificates and programs currently offered at the college will be stackable into one of the three anticipated Bachelor of Applied Science degrees — allowing many students currently enrolled at Ensign College to complete, if they choose, both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree.
“This type of degree is unique in its focus and concentration on preparing students with the in-demand skills employers are requesting,” said Elder Johnson.
The school will maintain its accreditation status as a two-year institution.
School officials are also excited about Ensign College’s expanded opportunities “to serve a broader audience” by offering much of its job-ready curriculum online. This will be primarily facilitated through an agreement with BYU-Pathway Worldwide. That partnership will allow Ensign College to develop, deliver and award certificates and degrees that will benefit not only the students who attend the school on its Salt Lake City campus, but members of the Church around the world.
“The school’s mission and its charge to produce graduates who are spiritually well-grounded and professionally prepared will not change,” said Elder Johnson. “In fact, we are confident that its ability to do so will be enhanced by these adjustments.”
Specific details and timelines for the changes are being finalized and will be announced at appropriate times in the future.
“I pray that the Lord’s blessings will rest upon the faculty, staff, administration and especially the students as we go through this exciting transition,” said Elder Johnson.
Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch called it “a historic day in the life of this precious institution … maybe one of the most important events in the entire history of the college.”
President Kusch added the day can aptly be called a day of thanksgiving. “The Lord has bestowed a glorious blessing upon this institution and us.”
Educating Heavenly Father’s children marks a sacred trust and responsibility, he said.
“The changes announced this morning are for the sole purpose of blessing and serving the students who attend here now, who will attend here in the future, and to bless and serve many who will never come here, but will feel our love as we reach them and teach them through the means of technology.”
The scriptures, said President Kusch, use the word “ensign” to describe the new and everlasting covenant and a symbol of peace as a guide to the gathering of Israel. It is a standard to the nations.
“As we embrace a new name,” he said, “I invite each of us to think more carefully about that light and being a standard of righteousness.”
While Tuesday featured many key changes, some things about the school can never change, he concluded. “Today, more than ever, families in the Church are in need of leaders who know how to find out what God wants done.”
Miriam Mariel, a student from Guayaquil, Ecuador, said she had originally planned to transfer her credits to BYU at the conclusion of the semester to continue toward her 4-year degree.
“But after this announcement, I’ve decided I’m going to stay here because it is an amazing place.”
The name Ensign College, she added, “helps me to remember that here I can find direction for what I need to do with my life.”
Student Heidi Toledo of Cuernavaca, Mexico, said the name change is a reminder “that we need to be defenders of righteousness. We need to help others who are seeking an education and show them that it’s possible.”
A dynamic, storied history of learning
The soon-to-be-called Ensign College, originally named the Salt Lake Academy, opened in 1886.
Change has defined the institution — which has long been a popular destination of learning for students from around the world seeking employable skills in a Latter-day Saint environment.
Ensign College has moved eight times, and classroom instruction has been provided in 16 different buildings, according to the school’s website.
It stood on the location of the current Church Office Building for six decades, from 1901 to 1961.
Later, from 1962 to 2006, the school occupied historic Wall Mansion in downtown Salt Lake City before moving to its current location at the Triad Center, just west of Temple Square.
Drawing upon a diverse faculty, Ensign College provides programs in business, health professions, information technology, software development, interior design, paralegal studies, social media marketing and applied technology.
The school awards professional certificates and associate degrees, with classes offered both on campus and online.
And finally, a bit of school trivia. Although the school does not sponsor intercollegiate athletic teams, the school does boast a mascot: the Lions.
Forest green and gold are the school colors.