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Elder Gilbert, U. of U. President Randall reach out to prospective institute students

‘Wherever you attend, we want you to make religious education part of your university experience,’ Elder Gilbert says during University of Utah institute devotional

Students discuss doctrine in the Book of Mormon in a class taught by Brother Moore at the Institute of Religion located adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.

Students discuss doctrine in a class at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Feb. 3, 2022. Elder Clark Gilbert and U. of U. President Taylor Randall reached out to prospective institute students during a devotional on Nov. 13, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News


Elder Gilbert, U. of U. President Randall reach out to prospective institute students

‘Wherever you attend, we want you to make religious education part of your university experience,’ Elder Gilbert says during University of Utah institute devotional

Students discuss doctrine in the Book of Mormon in a class taught by Brother Moore at the Institute of Religion located adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.

Students discuss doctrine in a class at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Feb. 3, 2022. Elder Clark Gilbert and U. of U. President Taylor Randall reached out to prospective institute students during a devotional on Nov. 13, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

As the Church commissioner of education, Elder Clark G. Gilbert has spoken to prospective students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University–Idaho, University of Arizona, Arizona State University and elsewhere.

So in addressing potential University of Utah students and their parents during a devotional at the university’s institute building on Sunday, Nov. 12, Elder Gilbert noted that he was not endorsing attendance there. But his main message was simple: “Wherever you attend, we want you to make religious education part of your university experience,” the General Authority Seventy told attendees.

Roughly 500 Latter-day Saint high school students and their parents attended Sunday’s event, which served as an opportunity to get to know the Church’s expansive institute building adjacent to the university campus in Salt Lake City and its classes, activities and programs.

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Elder Clark G. Gilbert, General Authority Seventy and Church commissioner of education, speaks during a devotional to high school students and their parents at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13, 2022.

Troy Williamson

In addition to Elder Gilbert, University of Utah President Taylor Randall, a Latter-day Saint and former student of the University of Utah institute, also participated. 

In his brief remarks, Elder Gilbert offered three reason students should “involve the Lord in your education.”

First, “involving the Lord will increase your spiritual resilience.”

The world has need for those who have grit or can keep going even when things get difficult. Elder Gilbert quoted psychologist Angela Duckworth, who said, “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.”

As an example, Elder Gilbert recalled being a struggling graduate student at Harvard University and questioning whether he could keep going. However, his wife, Sister Christine Gilbert, reminded him that they had prayed about being there and that the Lord would help them. “It gave me the courage to persevere,” he said.

Second, involving the Lord will grant access to the testifying power of the Holy Ghost.

Elder Gilbert shared a video clip of President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, who in a speech at BYU in 2006, spoke of being a struggling physics student at the University of Utah. 

As he was studying a thermodynamics textbook, partway down the page and in the middle of some mathematics, young President Eyring had a clear confirmation that what he was reading was true. “It was exactly the feeling I had had come to me before as I pondered the Lord’s scriptures and that I have had many times since,” President Eyring recalled.

The Spirit can testify of truth and be of help, no matter the topic.

Third, involving the Lord can provide amplification of individuals’ gifts and talents.

Elder Gilbert used the examples of Relief Society General Presidents Julie B. Beck and Camille N. Johnson, who both have taught of becoming better instruments for the Lord through education.

President Johnson has said, “[W]e should get all the education and training we possibly can so that we can be prepared. Prepared to serve in the world and the Church. Prepared to be wise counselors and companions to our spouses. Prepared to be effective teachers to our children and those young people over who we have influence. The more we learn, the greater influence we can assert for good.”

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Roughly 500 high school students from Salt Lake County and their parents gather at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah campus for a devotional introducing them to institute and its classes, activities and programs, on Nov. 13, 2022.

Troy Williamson

Elder Gilbert also thanked President Randall for his participation in the event, calling him “an innovator” and “a bridgebuilder — not just to our faith, but to all groups and constituencies.”

In his remarks, President Randall invited prospective students to join the university community. “Bring with you your experiences, your personalities and your faith. Help us transform our university community into a community that loves, serves and builds as we get educated. This university welcomes your faith and beliefs as well as the many faiths and beliefs of others. We want you to feel comfortable here.”

The university has been extending the hand of friendship to the Church and other faiths in a variety of ways. One way has been transforming the university into something more than just a commuter campus, beginning with the construction of 5,000 dorm rooms in the next five years. 

“We are building a living laboratory for you to understand how you can build a community,” President Randall said.

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University of Utah President Taylor Randall speaks to prospective institute students during a devotional held at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

Troy Williamson

He also mentioned the partnership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation and the University of Utah in the construction of the Ivory University House adjacent to the institute “where students can feel comfortable living their standards.”

The 623-bed facility will include student tutoring, counseling and internship opportunities along with onsite activities, fitness rooms and study areas.

President Randall concluded by telling students: “We are making these investments and many more, because we believe you are the future of our communities and society. You will be the ones who solve issues of clean air, energy, poverty and climate. You will also be the ones who bring love, service and peace to our world. Please know that you are welcome here, we need you to come help us love, serve and build a community that we all want to live in.”

During Sunday night’s event, Troy D. Virgin, Salt Lake City University Institute director, also outlined many of the activities offered at the institute, and Russell Flynn, Latter-day Saint Student Association president, and Sadie Bowler, another member of LDSSA, spoke of their experiences with institute.

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