LDS Business College will become Ensign College, offer some four-year degrees

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Bruce C. Kusch, president of LDS Business College, talks about Ensign College, which will become the new name of the college in September, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.

LDS Business College, the workplace-preparing two-year school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will change its name to Ensign College, effective Sept. 1.

“Our Latter-day Saint scripture talks about an ensign to the nations and a standard that is held up as an example of goodness and truth and righteousness,” Bruce C. Kusch, the school’s president, said Tuesday. “That’s what we want for our students. We want our students to be a light to the world.”

Kusch and Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of the Church Educational System — which oversees Brigham Young University’s flagship campus in Provo, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, the online BYU-Pathway Worldwide, Ensign College and the church’s many seminaries and institutes — announced the new name and some curriculum changes Tuesday at a devotional talk.

(Images courtesy of LDS Business College) The seal for LDS Business College, left, and the logo for the school under its new name, Ensign College.

The name LDS Business College, which the Salt Lake City school has worn since 1931, doesn’t fit the college’s curriculum, Kusch said. “Today, we offer more than just programs in business, so the name was somewhat confusing to people,” he said in post-devotional interview.

Starting with the fall 2021 semester, the school will offer a limited number of four-year bachelor’s degrees in applied science. The degrees will be offered in three disciplines: business management, communications and information technology.

Between 1,800 and 2,000 students enroll at the school each semester, Kusch said, and about 80% of them transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree. Offering four-year programs, he said, should help the school retain students and boost graduation rates.

The new four-year program also may attract new students, and Kusch anticipates a rise in enrollment.

“This building has plenty of room to accommodate growth,” Kusch said of the school’s home since 2006, a 10-story office building in downtown Salt Lake City’s Triad Center complex — which is also home to the Deseret News, and KSL radio and TV.

Ensign (pronounced N'-sine) also will offer more of its curriculum online. Many of the job-ready courses will be coordinated with BYU-Pathway.

The shifts in name and curriculum “do not change the nature of the institution,” Johnson said in a statement. The changes, he said, “build upon the college’s deep commitment to students and position it to better bless their lives in new and meaningful ways.”

The college was one of the last church-owned properties that still carried “LDS” or “Mormon” in its name. The changes have been underway since August 2018, when church President Russell M. Nelson announced he had received a heavenly revelation that such terms were to be avoided.

“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Nelson was quoted as saying.

“We were certainly aware of President Nelson’s counsel and wanted to make sure that we complied with his counsel,” Kusch said. Beyond that, though, “the change of the name was more a part of reintroducing the college, and what we do, as part of the other changes.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Bruce C. Kusch, president of LDS Business College, talks about Ensign College, which will become the new name of the college in September, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.

Since Nelson’s announcement, many church-owned entities have changed their long-familiar names. The world renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir became The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. The church’s website, lds.org, switched its URL to churchofjesuschrist.org. The Wi-Fi network at church meetinghouses, formerly LDSAccess, recently became “Liahona,” named for a compass device mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon, the church’s signature scripture, is one use of the word “Mormon” not discouraged by current church policy.

The name Ensign College — taken from Ensign Peak, a few miles north of the school — was chosen to keep the school distinct from BYU and its satellites.

“Because we’re not a university," Kusch said, “we deliberately did not propose a BYU name.”

The school has carried many names over its history. It was founded as the Salt Lake Academy in 1886, renamed the Salt Lake Stake Academy in 1888, and a year later became Latter-day Saints’ University. By 1927, as BYU overtook the school as the church’s main institution of higher learning, the name was changed to LDS College. The word “Business” was added in 1931, during the Depression, when the business school was the only part of the college that stayed open.