SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Business College will become Ensign College on Sept. 1.
The name change was announced during the school’s weekly devotional on Tuesday morning by Elder Paul V. Johnson, the commissioner of Church Education for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“This name change will be a catalyst for reintroducing the college and all that it offers,” Elder Johnson told 848 people who filled the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
He also announced that Ensign College, a two-year school, will offer a limited number of four-year degrees beginning in fall 2021. Additionally, it will begin to offer most of its unique curriculum to people around the world via BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
“It is a meaningful name,” Elder Johnson told the Deseret News. “It has historical meaning and it also has meaning in the language. The historical meaning goes back to our roots in this valley, Brigham Young seeing Ensign Peak from Wilford Woodruff’s wagon in 1847 and knowing, this is the place. It carries all that history, and then it also carries the power of the word itself. We’re really hoping that this college will continue to be a banner, a standard for people to look at. We’re so excited about this.”
Church members and others have speculated about the possibility of a change to the college’s name for 18 months, ever since President Russell M. Nelson announced the church was dropping the use of nicknames and abbreviations like LDS or Mormon. He called the use of the full name of the church nonnegotiable.
Church leaders indicated the process would be a sustained effort that could take years. They first renamed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It now is known as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. LDS.org became ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The LDS Tools app now is Member Tools and LDS Media Library is Gospel Media.
Earlier this month, the church changed the name of the Wi-Fi service in its meetinghouses around the world from LDS Access to Liahona, a reference to a compass in the Book of Mormon.
However, LDSBC President Bruce Kusch said that wasn’t the reason the school changed its name. (See additional story.)
Ensign College will be the fifth name for the school.
It opened in 1886 under the name Salt Lake Stake Academy. The name changed to LDS College in 1890, LDS University in 1901 and back to LDS College in 1927. The school has been called LDS Business College since 1931.
Kusch called Tuesday “another day never to be forgotten at LDS Business College.” Later, standing in front of a screen with the name Ensign College in a shade of hunter green, Kusch added that Tuesday “may be one of the most significant days in the history of the college.”
Kusch spent 10 years in the administration at BYU-Idaho while the Pathway program was being developed. He said hundreds of students around the world are taking LDSBC courses online. Now he said thousands will have access to more of the school’s courses through BYU-Pathway Worldwide
School and church leaders did not consider using BYU in the new title, according to the Q&A portion of a news release.
“We wanted the college to have a name distinct from the other CES universities and BYU-Pathway Worldwide.”
BYU-PW President Clark Gilbert attended the devotional, as did former LDS Business College presidents Larry Richards and Stephen Woodhouse.
The new four-year degrees will be Bachelor of Science degrees in business management, communications and information technology. They were chosen based on demand. About 80% of the college’s students are in programs where transferring to another school is necessary.
The school also said its future curriculum will be stackable into these degrees.
Kusch said college leaders would hold a Q&A session with students interested in the degrees at 4 p.m. today in the school’s multipurpose room at the Triad Center, 95 N. 300 West.
The school’s board of trustees approved the changes. The board is made up of the church’s First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and general authorities and general officers of the church.
Now in its 134th year, the school has more than 2,200 students. The college has a strong international flavor, with students from all 50 states and 60 countries. International students comprise 30% of the student body.
The student body is 99% Latter-day Saint, according to fall 2018 statistics.
Nicole Van Alfen, 19, a freshman in interior design from Lehi said she will transfer to BYU-Idaho next semester to pursue a dance degree. She hoped Tuesday’s announcement means she’ll be able to continue pursuing an associate degree in interior design from Ensign College through BYU-PW during her flex semesters at BYU-Idaho. BYU-Idaho offers three semesters per year; students are assigned to attend two semesters and sit out the third.
Debbie Cardosa immediately shared the news on her family chat. Her sister attended LDSBC a decade ago, and it is important to her family.
“It was a historic moment of revelation sitting here in the Assembly Hall,” said Cardosa, 23, a sophomore in social media and marketing from Fontana, California.
Alfen and Cardosa attended the assembly with Princess Daniels, 19, of Burnsville, Minnesota. Daniels will complete her associate degree in business management this spring. They all joked that their children will look at them funny when they say they went to Ensign College when it still was known as LDS Business College.
“We’ll sound really old,” Daniels said as the three friends laughed together.
The college moved in 2006 to the Triad Center, its eighth home. From 1901 to 1961, it stood where the current Church Office Building now stands. From 1962 to 2006, it occupied the Wall Mansion in downtown Salt Lake City.
The school’s 2019 graduating class included 498 graduates — 263 females and 235 males. The college awarded 578 two-year degrees in 20 programs and 166 certificates in seven programs.