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Speakers advised graduates at Southern Utah University to bolster two organizations upon whom they said the world's future depends: the family and the United Nations.

Joseph Verner Reed, under-secretary general of the United Nations, told graduates Saturday morning that "it is not idealism to support the United Nations, it is realism. With all its merits and all its defects the U.N. represents our joint experience as citizens of this planet."The United Nations is the repository of the hope of humanity," he said.

At baccalaureate services Friday night, President Gordon B. Hinckley expressed concern for the quality of family life in America and the world, and what that portends for graduates' children.

The speakers addressed the largest graduating class in the history of Southern Utah University, which awarded diplomas to 742 graduates. In addition to Reed and President Hinckley, the university gave honorary doctorate degrees to Karen Haight Huntsman for her numerous charitable and civic contributions and to Helen Zeese Papanikolas for her work on the history of Utah.

Delbert L. Black, a chemistry major, and Karen L. Lowe, an English major, gave the valedictory addresses. The university also honored Cedar City residents Mary Ewing Anker, Patrick H. Fenton, Maude Halversen and Harl E. Judd with distinguished service awards.

Joann Bowns, a professor of biology, received the outstanding educator citation for 1993-94 during graduation ceremonies at the Centrum.

President Hinckley, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the plight of children is "the most serious problem facing our nation today.

"There are challenges which you face which no previous generation has ever been called upon to face of the same magnitude," President Hinckley said.

He said millions of children come into the world with handicaps that are seemingly impossible to overcome, suffering lives of neglect, abuse or poverty. He also noted the high cost to society of children born to adolescent mothers.

He said it is "time to develop strategies to conserve and nurture the family environment of our future generations."

Reed, in a similar vein, said preserving and strengthening the United Nations can ensure a "peaceful, stable, just and prosperous world that I am sure, Class of '94, you want for your children, for their children and that you want to live in."

"Our task is to improve the organization, to consolidate international commitment to its necessary purpose and to make this a peaceful and nurturing world for the peoples that the United Nations represents," Reed said.

Reed paid tribute to LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson, who was buried Saturday, saying "Utah has lost a leader respected throughout the world, a true patriot who loved America . . .. On behalf of my diplomatic colleagues and the secretary general of the United Nations, I extend deep expression of both admiration and appreciation."

Reed is recognized as one of the key officials on the staff of U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, where he has served since October 1991. Prior to joining the U.N. staff, he was U.S. ambassador to Morocco. He also served as chief of protocol in the Bush administration.