As a newcomer to BYU–Idaho, President Meredith shares his impressions of the university

In preparation for his inauguration, President Alvin F. Meredith talks about what he’s learned and what he loves about the school he’s been called to lead

Elder Alvin F. Meredith III stood at the podium of the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, for the first time on Feb. 7, 2023. As a General Authority Seventy, he was assigned to provide the weekly devotional remarks. His topic was especially pertinent to his predominantly young adult audience: Receiving revelation for life decisions.

Just three months later, he sat on the stand of that same 15,000-seat auditorium as Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced his name as 18th president of Brigham Young University–Idaho. That momentous experience represented his second-ever experience with the college town in southeast Idaho.

During the May 16 announcement, Elder Christofferson expressed his admiration and confidence in Elder Meredith, calling him “an effective teacher and leader of organizations.”

But as a relative newcomer to both Rexburg and to college administration, Elder Meredith was both “shocked and humbled” at the call, he said in an interview with BYU–Idaho Radio.

Still, when the Prophet of the Lord calls you, you say “yes,” Elder Meredith told the Church News.

For President Meredith — who took the helm of the university on Aug. 1 — the past nine weeks have been a steep learning curve. “We don’t have any experience in higher education, so we’re learning a lot,” he commented. However, the new president said it has been “fun” and “invigorating” to go to work every day with “a bucket full of questions” and leave each night knowing a little more than he did before.

BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III and his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith, greet students on campus in Rexburg, Idaho. President Meredith will be inaugurated on Oct. 10, 2023. | Mike Lewis, BYU–Idaho

Both he and his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith, have been discovering not only about the community and what it takes to run a university, but also about the faculty, staff and students, and what makes BYU–Idaho such “a special place.”  

Just before his official inauguration on Tuesday, Oct. 10, President and Sister Meredith sat down with the Church News to share their first impressions about the university and what they’re loving about their experience so far.

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Uniquely prepared

When he thinks about his predecessors — which include the likes of President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency; Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Kim B. Clark, an emeritus general authority; Elder Clark G. Gilbert, General Authority Seventy and the current Church commissioner of education; and Henry J. Eyring, his immediate predecessor — President Meredith said he feels “daunted” in his new assignment.

However, throughout his life, he’s learned to trust in the Lord and His prophets. “You just take great comfort in that oft-repeated adage, ‘Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.’ We do feel like the Lord has called us here, and we’re confident that He will sustain us and direct us, and our continual prayer is that we will do what He wants to be done.”

One thing they’ve learned over the course of their marriage, Sister Meredith added, is that if they are where the Lord wants them to be, doing what He wants them to be doing, He will enable them to do what needs to be done.

One of their family mottos is “We can do hard things.” President Meredith’s professional life and Church service have required a lot of changes for the family, sometimes in quick succession. 

President Meredith worked as a senior executive for Asurion in Tennessee, Hong Kong and Singapore. He also worked at GE Capital and The Boston Consulting Group. He was called as a General Authority Seventy in 2021 while serving as the president of the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission.

In the last decade, he has fulfilled Church assignments in Utah, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and North Carolina in the United States. In Asia, he served in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, China, Thailand and India. 

Sister Meredith recalled moving their six children under the age of 10 across the globe to Hong Kong and just getting used to driving on the left side of the road and navigating the metropolis with strollers when her husband was informed they’d be moving to Tennessee. “It was just crazy,” she recalled.

Elder Alvin F. Meredith, center, was named as the new president of BYU–Idaho on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. He is pictured here with his wife, Sister Jennifer Edgin Meredith, and their children. | Screenshot from

But each change for their family has resulted in blessings, Sister Meredith said.

“The companion to change is opportunity,” President Meredith explained. “All these changes have been an opportunity for us to learn and to grow and to stretch, and we felt really blessed to have had as many opportunities presented to us.”

By moving to Asia, their kids learned in ways that they couldn’t through a home evening lesson that people who look different than them and talk different than them and even have different belief systems than them are still really good people, President Meredith said. 

When they moved to Utah to serve as mission leaders, “[our family] learned that if you put the Lord first, then you can find joy in the journey.” 

President Meredith said he’s sure there will be lessons learned from their experience in Rexburg. “Like Sister Meredith said, we know that there will be many, many things to learn and many blessings to reap.”

It could be easy to feel overwhelmed in this new assignment, Sister Meredith shared. When that happens she thinks about the students. Loving them is the easy part of this call, she said.

Sister Meredith noted they have six children: three young adults and three teenagers or “soon-to-be young adults.” Just two years ago, the couple also finished their service as mission leaders.

“These young adults are so capable, and they’re so amazing,” Sister Meredith said. “And I just feel it’s such a privilege and a blessing to get to work with them all over again.” 

What they’ve learned

A few weeks ago, Sister Meredith said she walked into her husband’s office in the Spencer W. Kimball Administration Building, and he took her by the shoulders. With a huge smile on his face, President Meredith told her, “I love this job so much. I’m having so much fun.”

Besides serving as a mission leader, this is probably the happiest she’s seen him, Sister Meredith said.

“How can you not love serving here?” President Meredith said. 

Working at the university is a unique combination of purpose, intellectual stimulation and working with great people, especially the rising generation. “From top to bottom, everyone is committed to the mission of developing disciples of Jesus Christ who will go out into the world to be leaders. And that is ingrained deep in the DNA, and it is very unique to have that type of alignment and buy in in any organization,” President Meredith observed.

BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III and his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith, pose for a photo in the BYU–I Center in Rexburg, Idaho.
BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III and his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith, pose for a photo in the BYU–I Center in Rexburg, Idaho. President Meredith will be inaugurated on Oct. 10, 2023. | Mike Lewis, BYU–Idaho

From a business perspective, President Meredith said he’s been impressed at the value of a BYU–Idaho education. “Value is quality divided by cost. So there’s two aspects of the value equation that are apparent here at BYU–Idaho,” he said. 

First of all, the Merediths said they’ve been “blown away” by the quality of the faculty, the employees, the students, the facilities and the education available at BYU–Idaho. “And just to put a cherry on top is the fact that we’ve got a temple right adjacent to the campus,” he said.

The other part of the value equation is cost. “We live in a day and time where the cost of higher education is putting immense burdens of student debt on most graduates of most universities in the U.S.,” President Meredith said. “But the Church makes such a great investment in education that the cost of attending BYU–Idaho is a fraction of what it is to attend even your average state university.”

Each week, President and Sister Meredith meet with a group of 12 random students for lunch. They ask the students about their experience at the university, what they are studying, what they love about the university and how administration could make it better.

“Boy, if you ever needed a pick-me-up, sit in one of those meetings with the students who are just so full of light and righteous desires,” President Meredith said. 

Many of the students comment about how “the professors know my name and talk to me on campus,” Sister Meredith observed, noting the class sizes average at about 27 students.

An education through BYU–Idaho is “really an unparalleled experience, and when you couple the value with the mission to develop disciples of Christ and to stay aligned with prophets and apostles, there’s something special going on here in Rexburg, Idaho,” President Meredith said.

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Elder D. Todd Christofferson greets the new designated president of BYU–Idaho, Elder Alvin F. Meredith III, and his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith. The announcement was made May 16, 2023, in Rexburg, Idaho. | Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

Going forward

After his call, President Meredith met with many of the past presidents of BYU–Idaho, including President Henry B. Eyring and Elder Bednar. While they all used different words, their advice boiled down to two things, Elder Meredith said. First: “BYU–Idaho is a special place. Don’t mess it up,” Elder Meredith said with a smile.

Their second piece of advice was to find out what the Lord wants and do it. “The nice thing about being in such a special place like this is the Lord cares about what happens on this campus in Rexburg, Idaho, and because He does, He’ll help give us direction.“ 

President Meredith said he is well aware of the weight of the legacy of the past presidents of the university and the charge to preserve the foundation they’ve built. “But this isn’t just a responsibility about preserving. It’s also about taking BYU–Idaho further along the ‘steady upward course,’” he said, quoting the foundational address by President Henry B. Eyring

To summarize what he feels as his charge moving forward, President Meredith said, “It is to preserve the spirit of Ricks, the spirit of BYU–Idaho, that has made this place so special.” At the same time, it’s also to channel “a spirit of ‘divine discontent’ and press ourselves to move forward and upward along that ‘steady upward course’ that President Eyring talks about.”

And the best way to preserve the spirit of Ricks? “Perfectly align with prophetic direction. … There will be no daylight between what living prophets and apostles teach and what we embrace here,” President Meredith promised.

Correction: A previous version of this article noted the wrong year of Elder Meredith’s first devotional at BYU–Idaho. He spoke on Feb. 7, 2023.

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