News Release

Elder Meredith Inaugurated as 18th President of BYU–Idaho

In the inaugural charge, Elder D. Todd Christofferson tasks President Alvin F. Meredith with preserving the hallmarks of a BYU–Idaho education

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By Mary Richards, Church News

Elder Alvin F. “Tripp” Meredith III, a General Authority Seventy, was officially installed as the 18th president of Brigham Young University–Idaho on Tuesday, October 10, by Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Ronald A. Rasband, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

During the installation, Elder Christofferson, chairman of the executive committee of the BYU–Idaho board of trustees, outlined many of the characteristics distinct to BYU–Idaho that were laid out by prophets since its creation. The Apostle charged the new president to “align Brigham Young University–Idaho with its prophetically inspired direction.”

Thousands of students, faculty and staff — in addition to other Church, government, civic and education leaders — filled the 15,000-seat auditorium of the BYU–I Center on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on the sunny autumn morning.

The ceremony also brought several past presidents of BYU–Idaho to campus — Elder Bruce C. Hafen, President Steven D. Bennion, Elder Kim B. Clark, Elder Clark G. Gilbert and President Henry J. Eyring — in addition to other general Church leaders. Elder Gilbert, who serves as a General Authority Seventy and the Church commissioner of education, conducted the event.

President Meredith’s installation came just weeks following the presidential inauguration of BYU President C. Shane Reese at BYU–Idaho’s sister institution in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, September 19.

President Alvin F. Meredith and his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith, stand during the inauguration ceremony in Rexburg, Idaho, Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
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In his inaugural charge, Elder Christofferson directed President Meredith to commit his time and talents to preserving the university’s unique culture encapsulated in “the spirit of Ricks” — Ricks College, BYU-Idaho’s previous name — as well as the hallmarks of modesty, frugality, innovation and revelation.

President Meredith must also preserve the university’s student-centered, teaching-focused culture, Elder Christofferson said. “Help students develop the whole person, even the eternal person, both in and out of the classroom. Help students and employees to realize and magnify their divine identity as sons and daughters of God and as disciples of Jesus Christ who can lead in their families, the Church and their communities.”

Elder Christofferson promised the new university leader that the BYU–Idaho board of trustees — with the Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, at its head — “will safeguard you through an increasingly challenging landscape and point the way to academic and spiritual success.”

After his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith, placed the presidential medallion around his neck, President Meredith made a heart sign with his hands to display to students, who stood to applaud the newly minted president.

Newly installed BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III makes a heart sign with his hands during the inauguration ceremony held in the BYU–I Center in Rexburg, Idaho, Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
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In his brief remarks prior to the official installation, Elder Rasband, who serves as vice chairman of the executive committee, explained that like all of the institutions within the Church Educational System, BYU–Idaho’s Board is led by the First Presidency. The inaugural charge read by Elder Christofferson and drafted by the board represents prophetic direction and guidance.

“This prophetic charge and governance structure creates a tremendous advantage for BYU–Idaho, its president, the work of its faculty and staff, and the spiritual development of its students,” he said.

Elder Rasband also relayed the love of President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and fellow Apostle Elder David A. Bednar, who both served as past presidents of the university but were unable to attend. “We honor each of these leaders who have had such an impact on this university.”

Elder Christofferson also noted the legacy of “remarkable leaders” found at BYU–Idaho and assured that President Meredith, whom he has known since he was a teenager, “will continue that tradition and make a uniquely excellent contribution of his own.”

After expressing his “enthusiastic endorsement” of President Meredith as he takes the reins of leadership, Elder Christofferson explained it was not because of President Meredith’s many talents and engaging personality that he and his wife were called to serve at BYU–Idaho. “The Lord was in charge of their path to BYU-Idaho, and I testify to you as a participant in the process that it is the Lord who has put Elder Meredith where he is in this moment.”

Students, faculty and staff fill the BYU–Idaho Center on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus for the inauguration of Elder Alvin F. Meredith III as the 18th president of BYU–Idaho on Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
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‘Legendary Graduates’

In a foundational address in September 2001, President Henry B. Eyring, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made a prophecy about BYU–Idaho graduates: “They will be natural leaders who know how to teach and how to learn. They will have the power to innovate and improve without requiring more of what money can buy. Those graduates of BYU-Idaho … will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve.”

Elder Christofferson told students, “Remember, your learning, your teaching, your prayers, your discipleship are not simply ends in themselves. What you are learning and gaining here should qualify you to add value in every setting — to bring important knowledge, innovation and spiritual and academic skill to the table.”

And that, he added, includes the family dinner table. “The best we have, the best we are, is most critically invested in our marriages and our homes.”

Elder Christofferson cautioned that the university must never become a place or institution where a diploma is seen only as a talisman that can open the door to good fortune in the future. “This is not the place for one who is simply a ‘credential seeker.’”

While education has value as a refining, ennobling influence, it does not end there. “It is about enhancing our capacity to serve and bless others,” Elder Christofferson said.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the inauguration of Elder Alvin F. Meredith III in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
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At this university, efforts with respect to spiritual and intellectual enlargement, while worthy ends, are more importantly means and resources enabling individuals to lose their lives in the service of God and fellowman.

“Your time at BYU–Idaho should enhance your capacity to advance the kingdom of God on the earth, to ‘lift up the hands which hang down and strengthen the feeble knees,’ and to extend charity, the pure love of Christ, throughout civil society as well as the Church,” Elder Christofferson said.

When students are fully converted to the truths regarding their divine identity and purpose, they can strengthen others, he taught. “You can save your life by losing it in the Lord’s service. … In short, as prophesied, ‘graduates of BYU–Idaho will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve.’”

President Meredith’s Inaugural Response

In his response, President Meredith expressed his “full alignment with” and “full commitment to” the charge given from the board.

In 2000, when President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the creation of BYU–Idaho, he spoke of a university with a distinct, student-focused mission, with the primary purpose to develop deeply converted disciples of Jesus Christ.

President Hinckley’s announcement serves as the university’s birthright, President Meredith said, and set the parameters and direction for the university going forward. “Our charge today is twofold,” President Meredith said. “First, to preserve that birthright and everything it stands for; and second, to continue on the steady, upward course that a prophet of God established for this university.”

He then shared four ways the campus community can work together to preserve the school’s sacred birthright and continue its “steady, upward course.”

First, the university must remain resolutely focused on its primary purpose: “to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.”

From left, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Sister Jennifer Meredith and BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III stand during the inauguration ceremony in the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
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Said President Meredith, “All that we do, especially hiring, must be done with the intent to ‘ensure an alignment with the university’s spiritual mission.’ We must lean into our mission and recognize that it not only makes us different but is also a source of differential strength.”

Second, the university must continue to strengthen its core teaching mission as described by President Hinckley, who said, “BYU–Idaho will continue to be teaching oriented. Effective teaching and advising will be the primary responsibilities of its faculty, who are committed to academic excellence.”

A student-centered approach requires a faculty free of the obligations of research whose sole professional focus is on teaching and advising students.

Next, the campus must commit to preserving the spirit of Ricks, President Meredith continued. “The culture and spirit of BYU–Idaho can be hard to define but are easy to feel. Many visitors walk this campus and express that they feel something different.”

That feeling does not come because of the buildings, grounds or even the people. “It is because the Spirit of the Lord is here. And we must diligently preserve that,” President Meredith said.

Lastly, BYU–Idaho must teach and amplify its message. “The intention of telling our story is not to seek praise or even to recruit. It is primarily to ensure that prospective students and employees are fully informed about the unique spiritual, educational and professional opportunities found here at BYU–Idaho,” President Meredith said.

Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson offered the invocation, and Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy offered the benediction. Music was provided by the BYU–Idaho Combined Choirs and members of Symphony Orchestra.

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