SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Business College will soon be renamed Ensign College and expand to include three bachelor’s degree programs and an online curriculum, school officials and leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday.
"This is a historic day in the life of this precious institution,” said LDS Business College President Bruce Kusch, during a devotional at a packed Assembly Hall at Temple Square where students learned about the upcoming changes. "I believe today is a day that will never be forgotten, and maybe one of the most important events in the entire history of the college."
The announced changes were approved by the school’s board of trustees, which include the church’s First Presidency, during a meeting a few weeks ago. A partnership with BYU-Pathways to include online courses was approved in January, Kusch said, in an interview with KSL.com.
LDS Business College will transition to Ensign College on Sept. 1, which is the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year. The college is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the accreditors were made aware of the upcoming changes, Kusch said.
Officials hope that a new name will bring in students who might otherwise have pushed away from the idea of going to a "business college."
"The change of the name along with these other changes provides us an opportunity to reintroduce the college, and to be very clear about what our mission and purpose is as an institution, and that we do a whole lot more than just business programs," he said. "We think we have some wonderful things to offer students as they come here. And now as we rebrand and communicate this new name and these things, it'll give us an opportunity to explain to them in ways that maybe we didn't have before."
The process to change signage, including the giant "LDS Business College" sign atop its 10-floor Triad Center building in downtown Salt Lake City, will happen in the coming months. Kusch said he hoped that the process would be completed by the time the new school year begins.
Meanwhile, the school also expects to begin offering Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in business management, communications and information technology beginning in Sept. 2021. Those programs were selected based on business demand and because they will allow students to remain with the college if they so choose, officials said.
"This type of degree is unique in its focus and concentration on preparing students with the in-demand skills employers are requesting," said Elder Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of Church Education for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ensign College will remain accredited as a two-year institution, Johnson added. The college will likely add more bachelor's programs in the coming years, Kusch said, but he insisted there are no plans to expand to a four-year university in the future. He noted there are several two-year colleges across the country that offer bachelor's degrees.
In addition, the school will begin to provide more of its courses online through a collaboration with BYU-Pathway Worldwide, which officials say will open the school up to people away from the Salt Lake City campus.
Tuesday’s announcement tacked on to the history of the nearly 134-year-old school. It opened its doors as the Salt Lake Stake Academy in 1886 and has gone through numerous changes since then, including five name changes and more than a dozen different locations; however, Ensign College will be its first name rebrand in 89 years.
The school was renamed the LDS College in 1890 before it became LDS University and then back to LDS College before it was named LDS Business College in 1931.
So why Ensign? Johnson explained the name refers to Brigham Young’s first trek up nearby Ensign Peak on July 26, 1847 — two days after he reached the Salt Lake Valley. There, he told others with him about plans to build a new city in the valley below. Ensign Peak is just north of the college’s Triad Center campus in Salt Lake City.
Kusch said "ensign" was selected from a few names tested by an outside marketing firm; the names were also talked about internally between high-ranking school officials. They believe it's not just a name that connects with the school's location — it's also a name that also aligns with its values.
"Ensign is defined as a banner, a standard or a symbol," Kusch said during the devotional, pointing out it was also described in scripture as a symbol of peace and a "light to the standard of nations."
"As we embrace a new name, I invite each of us to think more carefully about that line, of being the standard of righteousness," he continued. "Students come from all over the world to this college to study and learn, and our graduates can be found throughout the world."