Featured Stories

LDS Business College Is Now Ensign College

Why It’s About More Than Just the Name Change

This story appears here courtesy of TheChurchNews.com. It is not for use by other media.

By Rachel Sterzer Gibson, Church News

Since taking the helm in 2017, LDS Business College President Bruce C. Kusch and his administrators have steered the school through many ups and downs. Most recently, they not only navigated the difficulties of an institutional name change and expansion of the college’s educational opportunities and reach — they did it during a pandemic.

But Tuesday, September 1, was definitely a high point; that’s when the 134-year-old school officially became Ensign College.

This transition is particularly meaningful for President Kusch. Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System, announced the changes to the two-year school on Tuesday, February 25, at a campus devotional for students and faculty in the Assembly Hall at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. In addition to the name change, he announced that the college will begin to offer a limited number of Bachelor of Applied Science degrees, and that it would be offering more of its curriculum online through an agreement with BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

On that day, as President Kusch stood in the Assembly Hall and said the words “Ensign College” for the first time over the pulpit, “I just had an overwhelming feeling of confirmation and approbation from the Spirit that this was the right name for the school, and it was the right time,” he said recently during a Church News interview.

Ensign College
Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch is presiding at a moment of historic change at the Church-owned school. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company.

More Than a Name

In the last few months, President Kusch has sensed that the name change is bigger and more significant than simply changing the school’s name. For one thing, the new name is embedded with meaning.

When making the announcement nearly six months ago, Elder Johnson spoke of Brigham Young hiking to the top of a mountain on July 26, 1847, two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. From his 1,000-foot vantage point, the latter-day prophet described the vision he had seen of the valley prior to beginning the pioneer trek west.

That spot, Ensign Peak, rises within close view of where the college is located. It was in that spirit, Elder Johnson said, that they were announcing the school’s new moniker.

President Kusch explained during that same devotional in February that the scriptures use the word “ensign” to describe the new and everlasting covenant, a symbol of peace, a guide to the gathering of Israel and a light as a standard to the nations. As students come to the college to learn and study and then go forth as disciples of Christ, they become standard bearers for His gospel. They become ensigns everywhere they go.

Ensign College
Bruce Kusch, president of LDS Business College, speaks to students during a devotional at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, where it was announced the school's name will be changed to Ensign College on September 1. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Just a few weeks ago, as the college president was walking down a campus hall and contemplating the name change, he had “a very, very sweet and profound experience,” he said, “in recognizing and feeling that there are many on the other side of the veil that had a little something to do with this school during its 134-year history that are very aware of what’s going on and cheering us on from the other side. That was very meaningful for me.”

Seeing the Hand of the Lord

Although the process has not been without obstacles, “Up to this point, we haven’t had a challenge where we thought ‘we just don’t have any idea how to work through that,’” President Kusch said.

In fact, in many ways they have seen how the Lord has prepared the way. Quoting Alma 57:26, President Kusch said, “We do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God.”

For example, one challenges was ensuring they could use the new name. As they performed legal searches and domain name searches, they approached the Ensign magazine staff to ask if there were some domain names the magazine owned that the college could have access to. “They were very gracious with us in telling us we could have every domain name that they had ever reserved,” President Kusch recalled.

The college had no idea that within a few months, the magazine would retire its claim to the Ensign name. “It just sort of fell into place,” President Kusch said.

This and other such experiences helped school officials feel some divine approbation.

“When you are in alignment with the Lord’s will and in alignment with the Lord’s prophets and you do it according to the Lord’s timing, then it’s almost as if you can see that the Lord was going before to prepare the path and to open the way,” President Kusch said.

Ensign College
New signage indicates that LDS Business College is now Ensign College in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company.

An Exciting Future

Shortly before he was inaugurated, President Kusch expressed to the Church News his hopefulness and excitement in his outlook for then-LDS Business College.

“You can see the hand of the Lord in the way things evolve and the way things happen,” he said. “Technology that makes it possible to gain an education that even 10 years or so ago may not have been possible the way it is today — it is all very much part of the miracle of the Restoration. We have great people, great students and I am very optimistic about the future.”

“Over time, in the not too distant future, Ensign College will be providing education to many more students on a global basis than will ever come to our campus in Salt Lake City.”  —Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch

With the recent changes, President Kuch can feel that same optimism even more keenly. “Over time, in the not too distant future, Ensign College will be providing education to many more students on a global basis than will ever come to our campus in Salt Lake City,” he said of the school’s trajectory.

According to school administration projections, between 2,500 to 2,600 BYU-Pathway students will be enrolled in Ensign College courses for the fall. “Several years from now, that could be 10,000 students on a semesterly basis. The reach of the school will be much more global in the years to come, as more and more members of the Church around the world are participating in online education.

“It is very exciting,” he said.

As the college continues to grow and fulfill its mission to produce spiritually well-grounded and professionally prepared disciples of Christ, President Kusch said they proceed with gratitude.

“This was a great display of trust to grant approval for these adjustments. We move forward with a great sense of responsibility.”

Copyright 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.