Staff and faculty show an abundance of support for President Reese following his inauguration

Faculty and staff walk past a portrait of the Reeses as they await their turn to congratulate them at Tuesday’s faculty reception. The faculty reception was held at the Hinckley Center following President Reese’s inauguration. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

Professors and administrators attended the university’s faculty reception at the Hinckley Center to celebrate President Reese’s official appointment as BYU’s 14th president following his inauguration on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Casey Peterson, associate dean of students, has known the Reeses for years and is excited for BYU’s future with President and Sister Reese at the helm.

“Their spiritual strengthening and character building epitomize who they are and what they do,” Peterson said.

Sister Reese speaks with Geology Professor Jani Radebaugh and Associate Dean Jennifer Nielson. Attendees had a chance to speak individually with President and Sister Reese. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

Peterson attended the same primary school as Sister Reese and has always appreciated Sister Reese’s authenticity.

“There is not a fake bone in Wendy’s body. She is sincere and genuine,” Peterson said.

Peterson said President Reese is similarly genuine and believes students will naturally gravitate toward both President and Sister Reese as they sense their sincerity.

“They know that what they see is the real deal,” Peterson said.

Jennifer Nielson, associate dean in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, agreed students are already feeling the Reeses’ sincerity and highlighted the support from students during the inauguration ceremony.

“When you guys clapped for him today, it was so good,” Nielson said. “I think he is the president of and for the students.”

Nielson worked closely with President Reese when he was a dean in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and said the interactions President Reese had with people were remarkable for a particular reason.

President Reese greets Associate Dean Jennifer Nielson. One by one, attendees talked with President and Sister Reese at the faculty reception on Tuesday, Sept. 19. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

“When you are in front of him, you are the most important person,” Nielson said.

According to Nielson, President Reese creates those moments with anyone on campus, and those he interacts with can feel he cares for them.

Josh Perkey, communications manager for the College of Humanities, said he recognized President Reese’s attentiveness and care when he decided to introduce himself to the Reeses during University Conference.

“He and his wife were walking somewhere, but he took the time to shake my hand, say hello and get to know me,” Perkey said.

According to Perkey, this interaction demonstrated President Reese’s personal character and illustrated how he values staff just as much as faculty members.

“He sees all of us as part of this great university and cares about everyone that’s here,” Perkey said.

Jani Radebaugh, a professor in the Geology department, said she appreciates President Reese’s solid vision of what he wants BYU to become and his recent efforts to help people find their place at BYU.

“He’s asked everybody to help each other belong,” Radebaugh said.

According to Radebaugh, one practical approach to President Reese’s invitation is the first-year foundation course that will now be a requirement for every student during their first semester at BYU.

Attendees mingle at the faculty reception to celebrate the inauguration of President Reese. President became BYU’s 14th president on Tuesday, Sept. 20. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

The course, Radebaugh explained, will assign about 20 students to one professor and help students find a home at BYU. These smaller groups will allow students to create better relationships with each other and act as a support system for one another as they begin their college career.

“We’re trying to help everybody find a place,” Radebaugh said, regarding the first-year foundation course.

Brad Agle, a professor of Business Ethics in the Marriott School, piloted a similar class five years ago that taught students about the history of BYU as well as its aims and prophetic vision. Agle was thrilled when he heard the new BYU foundations course was going to be a requirement for all BYU students.

“It’s designed to help them get invested in the university and to understand the history and prophetic vision of the university,” Agle said.

Agle emphasized how wonderful it has been to see President Reese embrace and carry out his vision regarding BYU’s uniqueness. He has also loved seeing how much he cares about the BYU student body, faculty and staff across campus.

“I love that about him. He’s there for you and for the other students on campus,” Agle said.

President and Sister Reese succeeded Kevin and Peggy Worthen, who served BYU from Sept. 2014 to April 2023.

President and Sister Reese stand at the end of the receiving line at Tuesday’s faculty reception. Each attendee took time to indiviudally congratulate the Reeses. (Bryan Barba Salazar)
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