President Reese announces new student mentor program at University Conference opening session

President C. Shane Reese addresses the audience gathered for University Conference in the Marriott Center. President Reese invited faculty to live the Honor Code. (Joel Leighton)

President C. Shane Reese opened University Conference in the Marriott Center with a message of observance toward BYU’s standards of honor and introduced a new class required for incoming students beginning in Winter 2024.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve also addressed the audience of university personnel regarding how to help prepare students for eternity.

President Reese used his remarks as an opportunity to shed light on the recent changes in the CES Honor Code and ecclesiastical endorsements.

President Reese referred to the revisions as “principle-based.” The changes included a codifying of language in the Honor Code and a rewording of ecclesiastical interview questions to accommodate students in different stages of testimony development.

“The questions regarding testimony development focus on striving toward deeper testimony, rather than on whether one has a testimony at all. Aligning the questions asked by bishops and stake presidents more closely … will bolster their unique ministry,” President Reese said.

President Reese emphasized the importance of remaining unique and steadfast as an institution of Christ and called on faculty to act as an example.

“We can and we will be excellent, not in spite of our loyalty to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but directly and precisely because of it. At BYU, we unabashedly declare that ‘belief enhances inquiry, study amplifies faith, and revelation leads to deeper understanding,'” President Reese said.

President Reese invited faculty to commit to upholding the principles laid out in the Honor Code.

“Will you join me in being both quick to adopt these principles and standards in your own life, and quick to observe students and other campus community members who might need a reminder about a principle or expectation in their dress and grooming?” President Reese said.

The Conference opening session also saw the announcement of a new mentorship program named BYU Foundations for Students Success.

The program will connect students to a network of peer mentors and a faculty member to introduce them to resources on campus, President Reese explained. All newly admitted students will enter the program as of Winter 2024.

Elder Cook then addressed the audience on the Church of Jesus Christ’s continual dedication and investment in education. According to Elder Cook, the Church invests more than one billion dollars a year to higher education.

“Today, no matter where you live in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have access to an affordable, high quality, spiritually-based education because of the priority the Church places on education,” Elder Cook said.

Elder Cook said the church’s education institutions provides a road map for success in this life and the life to come. Elder Cook said the faculty must exhibit the principles of the gospel in order to continue the high standard laid out by President Kimball.

“Each of us must continuously strive for personal righteousness and temple worthiness. I believe BYU and you faculty members and employees are on the right track,” Elder Cook said.

Elder Cook concluded by speaking about BYU’s role in the future.

“I am confident that this marvelous institution will be a seminal voice for building faith in the Lord Jesus Chris and His Atonement and preparing for the second coming of our Savior,” Elder Cook said.

Kant Blad, faculty in the College of Nursing, felt impressed by the faculty’s duty to relay the school’s spiritual mission to students.

“It was exciting to hear from our new president, who has a very clear vision. It was wonderful to be reminded of not just our academic mission here, but our spiritual mission … which makes us unique,” Blad said.

Norm Jones, chair of the Civil and Construction Engineering Department, was pleased about the school’s decision to update the Honor Code and ecclesiastical endorsement procedures.

“I think it’s fantastic. I’ve been expecting this to happen once the ‘For the Strength of Youth’ pamphlet went to a more principles based approach. I’m really excited about the changes, and I think they will be quite popular,” Jones said.

University Conference will continue weekdays until Friday, Sept. 1. Topics covered include student data handling, classroom wellness and general department meetings.

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