Elder Holland conducted what he said would be an “unusual” devotional “with a twist” on Tuesday March 21, 2023. Elder Holland began by stating the devotional was “essentially a business meeting of the BYU board of trustees.” He indicated that Russel M. Nelson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Chairman of the board for Brigham Young University, had asked him to conduct the devotional.
Holland began by reciting the story of the mantel of Elijah being passed in the book of 2 Kings to a lively audience. He then announced that BYU President Kevin Worthen would be concluding his tenure as President of Brigham Young University. Before he could continue, the audience broke into applause and a standing ovation. Elder Holland responded, “I was going to suggest that we stand and clap.”
Elder Holland then announced that the new president of BYU would be Shane Reese, current academic vice president and former statistics professor at BYU. Shane Reese was in the news last year when he stood up for BYU’s decision to discontinue “gender-affirming voice therapy” for students. When the American Speech-language Hearing Association (ASHA) insinuated this move could make the speech language program lose its accreditation, Reese responded in a letter to UPI. He stated that the services did not align with Church guidelines, and that the decision was “religious mission based.”
The rest of the devotional consisted of remarks by the departing President Kevin and Peggy Worthen and the incoming President Reese and his wife, Wendy. President Worthen and Peggy Worthen shared heartfelt gratitude for each other and their time at BYU. He shared a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball’s second century address encouraging BYU to be a “unique” institution in all the world.
President Worthen concluded, “If you know nothing else about me and have learned nothing else, let me share with you that I believe with all my heart, mind, and soul that there is a God. He is our Heavenly Father and loves us in ways we cannot completely comprehend or understand.”
Reese was overcome with emotion when he took the stand. He then shared a story of support he received from a professor at BYU while he was struggling with serious doubts as a new freshman at BYU. He revealed that that professor was Kevin J. Worthen. He expressed heartfelt gratitude for Worthen and hope that he could fill the shoes he has been given as BYU “begins the second half of the second century.” Reese concluded with a testimony of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Gospel.
Written by: Luke Hanson
Senior Contributor 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.
I enjoyed the article and wish President Reese much success. But couldn’t you have found a better photo of him? The one used in the story makes him look like Satan trying to answer a question he doesn’t know the answer to.