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Why the newly renamed Ensign College is the only Latter-day Saint school without the BYU name

SHARE Why the newly renamed Ensign College is the only Latter-day Saint school without the BYU name
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A man walks out of the campus building of Ensign College, formerly LDS Business College, in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As one banner is about to be lowered, another rose Tuesday in downtown Salt Lake City.

Ensign College officially became the new name of the former LDS Business College two weeks after the college’s owner and sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced it it will retire Ensign as the name of its flagship magazine.

President Bruce Kusch used the hashtag #EnsignRising on social media to hail the fifth name change in the history of the school, which had been LDSBC since 1931. Fall semester begins Sept. 14 with a pandemic-related hybrid schedule for an expected 2,000 students.

The college is named for Ensign Peak, where Brigham Young and other pioneers waved a banner two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. Located about a mile and a half away, the peak is within easy view of the school’s front doors, above which the slogan “Developing capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ” now stands between Ensign College logos.

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The new name of Ensign College, formerly LDS Business College, became official on Sept. 1, 2020, and now illuminates the side of its building in Salt Lake City.

Ensign College

The church’s other higher ed institutions all use the name Brigham Young University. The difference in Ensign College’s name is deliberate, Kusch said, intended to signal how different it is from BYU, BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii.

“There is pretty widespread awareness of the name change, which is gratifying, but we still have work to do in terms of having people understand all that we have to offer,” he said. “Different than any of the other church colleges, Ensign College has something to appeal to everyone from the brand-new freshman to someone who needs to come back to get new skills.”

Ensign College offers two-year business-related, tech-related, interior design and medical assisting associate’s degrees.

“If someone is looking to come and get some very practical skills to be able to get a very good job in a relatively short period of time, Ensign College is a great place to do that,” Kusch said. “That’s a message we want to try to get to the local leaders of the church as much as we can.”

Beginning in fall 2021, Ensign College will offer its first four-year bachelor’s degrees, in business management, information technology and communications. The college is arranging many of its offerings into building blocks for those programs.

“We have over 20 programs that will stack into one of these three degrees,” Kusch said. “It’s almost like offering 20 different bachelor’s degrees. For example, within a business management degree you could have an emphasis in accounting or supply chain or small business management. In some schools those would be different degrees.”

The president said the stacking model allows the college to add programs to fit needs in the market without having to add a new degree.

“It also gives the student maximum flexibility in creating a degree program that meets their needs and their desires rather than us telling them exactly what they have to do,” Kusch said. “The student can pick what they want to do.”

Ensign College also has a scholarship program that covers tuition for single parents with dependent children.

Kusch is also excited about an increased partnership with BYU-Pathway Worldwide. Pathway Connect graduates can enroll in Ensign College online courses and continue to pay Connect tuition rates.

“This semester there will be more than 2,500 students around the world who are Pathway students enrolled in online Ensign College courses,” Kusch said. “That’s in addition to the 2,000 we have on campus and a significant increase over the students enrolled in such courses a year ago. We think we will be serving many thousands of students in the years to come that will never be on our campus. That’s infusing a great deal of enthusiasm into our work.”

Kusch said school officials didn’t know the church was dropping the Ensign magazine name when they approached church leaders with the proposal for a new name last year. Church and college officials announced the Ensign College name six months ago, on Feb. 25. The magazine staff made domain names it had purchased over the years available to the college.

The church will publish the final edition of the Ensign in December. The official church magazine will be named the Liahona beginning in January.

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The official seal logo of Ensign College, formerly LDS Business College.

Ensign College

Ensign College still has some work ahead. Its Twitter feed sports the new logo but the school still needs to come up with a new Twitter handle to replace @ldsbc.

On Facebook, the Ensign College logo also is in place, but the page is still headlined with the old name.

“Today is a huge day” for the 134-year-old school, Kusch said. “I think we all feel collectively that it’s the right name at the right time for this institution.”