This past Tuesday, President C. Shane Reese welcomed Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s charge to lead BYU and to be its “chief moral and spiritual officer” as the 14th president of the institution. President Reese accepted this call and summarized the focus of his upcoming tenure using two words: “Becoming BYU.” Echoing the words of Prophets and Apostles, President Reese declared that “Becoming BYU will require at times the courage to stand alone.” This renewed focus on BYU’s divine mission comes at a time when BYU’s commitment to eternal truths and its unique Honor Code are viewed as controversial by academic peers. Nevertheless, President Reese’s vision for BYU amplifies the importance of standing up for the institution’s Honor Code and the foundational values of BYU even in the face of a society that continues to devalue religious learning in its embrace of irreligion.
Furthermore, President Reese called for faculty to be bilingual in both secular and spiritual learning: “The faculty and staff must be bilingual. They must speak with authority about their disciplines in the language of scholarship and they must speak with power about their Christian discipleship in the language of faith.” President Reese further explained, “[When] secular and sacred truth reinforce one another we must embrace both, but when secular claims conflict with revealed truth we must mark the difference.” His bold statements set the standard for BYU faculty and students and encourage all of us to better blend secular and spiritual knowledge.
In addition, President Reese emphasized BYU’s commitment to “Supporting research that advances the Church’s purposes and blesses our Father’s children.” He also spoke of “furthering recent efforts regarding the family, religion’s role in human flourishing, and constitutional government.” This renewed emphasis comes at a time when these traditional ideals and eternal principles are severely attacked by other institutions, academic and governmental. As BYU moves forward into the future and approaches its 150th anniversary, it will further stand out in a modern world of academia that continues to distance itself from restored gospel principles and eternal truth. Though President Reese certainly has his work cut out for him, he has shown that he is the right man to be at the helm of this great university.
Written by: Thomas Olsen and Wyatt Karras
Senior Contributors at the Cougar Chronicle
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.