Brian K. Ashton Installed as BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s Second President
Brian K. Ashton spoke about the pattern of learning found in the House of the Lord during his inaugural address as the second president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, held March 10, 2022, at the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Now as we prepare to consider the future of BYU-Pathway Worldwide,” President Ashton said, “it is essential to recognize that in God’s kingdom on the earth, it is in the House of the Lord, the holy temples, that we find the divine pattern for education and learning.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ, presided at the inauguration ceremony. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, provided remarks. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, conducted.
President Oaks and Elder Holland installed Brian K. Ashton as president, and Elder Holland highlighted the individuality and excitement of what BYU-Pathway is accomplishing at a time when the world needs education the most.
He said, “I consider the creation of BYU-Pathway Worldwide to be the most important and most far-reaching development in the Church Educational System of this Church since the creation of seminaries and institutes of religion over a century ago.”
Elder Holland continued, “The instant success of this educational service is evidence enough of the reception it will continue to get around the world, holding aloft for all to see the hope that it instills and the good that it does for one generation after another.”
Not only does its academic offerings help students to become self-reliant but it is also helping them to grow spiritually into their divine potential. Elder Holland continued, “That is why love for and loyalty to the Savior … and His gospel must be the ultimate end-product of your educational efforts and the ultimate mark of your success.”
President Ashton explained that the divine pattern of learning found in the House of the Lord is designed for a primary purpose — “to bring the Holy Ghost more fully into our lives,” which is accomplished by “focusing on Jesus Christ.”
To achieve this, BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s mission is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.
President Ashton said, “These leaders must seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ. … If we do our jobs well, the righteousness and truth that our students embody will cause those they serve to follow our students’ lead…. BYU-Pathway and its partners can only build these types of leaders as we help them bring the Holy Ghost into their lives.”
BYU-Pathway Worldwide partners with BYU-Idaho, Ensign College, Seminaries and Institutes, other CES institutions, and several Church departments, to accomplish its unique strategy of serving those who have not traditionally had access to higher education, wherever the Church is organized.
President Ashton outlined ways BYU-Pathway and its partners can help, including building awareness of BYU-Pathway, making its operating model scalable for whatever size the Church needs it to be, discovering additional ways to reduce the cost of education, and more.
He said, “As we build disciple leaders and make the blessings of education available and affordable to more of God’s children — thus bringing the Holy Ghost more fully into their lives — we will assist in filling the world with truth and light and help bring an increasing number of the willing hearted and their families to Christ.”
Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System (CES), and Sister Sara McGill, a service missionary assigned to BYU-Pathway, also provided remarks.
Elder Gilbert, who served as the first president of BYU-Pathway from 2017–2021, also spoke at the inauguration and expanded on a statement President Russell M. Nelson made, when BYU-Pathway was first starting to expand across the Church, that “Pathway is for the kingdom.”
“BYU-Pathway is one of the resources the Lord has prepared for the great gathering ahead of His return to the Earth,” said Elder Gilbert. “One of the ways this will happen is by helping students all across the Church deepen their discipleship so they can build others and build the Church.”
Sara McGill, one of many service missionaries who help facilitate BYU-Pathway student gatherings, shared the inspiring stories of several BYU-Pathway students whose lives changed as they overcame challenges to pursue education. She said, “BYU-Pathway is one of the ways [Jesus Christ] is lifting souls worldwide. … He has a plan, and He has not forgotten anyone, regardless of the crack, corner, village, or city in which they find themselves.”
President Oaks ended the ceremony with encouragement for President Ashton: “God bless you, and bless BYU-Pathway as we go forward in the work of the Lord.”
The inaugural ceremony also included a video message to President Ashton from BYU-Pathway students, as well as virtual musical performances by a global student choir. One of the songs, “Father, Wilt Thou Lead My Learning,” was written by Rebecca Martin and arranged by Michelle Sundwall and Zach Sundwall.
Students from around the world participated through a live stream of the event. John Elisan said, “Everyone, regardless of educational status and age, will gain great insights in joining the program. Indeed, BYU-Pathway is for the kingdom to prepare the way for the second coming of the Lord.”
“BYU-Pathway has given me a new opportunity for learning,” said Libier Meléndez, “but mainly it has increased my understanding of the Savior’s love for me.”
Joseph Kemper struggled for 20 years to try and get a degree. He said, “Now, thanks to BYU-Pathway, I am five classes away from my goal. And for the first time in my life, I actually feel like a success. Thank you.”
Billy-fils Bipasha Banza said, “BYU-Pathway has helped me to understand the connection between all the skills I’ve learned and the purpose of God to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man. This understanding has changed the way I learn and how I act in participating in the gathering of Israel.”
ABOUT PRESIDENT ASHTON
Brian K. Ashton is the president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, and previously served as vice president of field operations. Receiving his bachelor’s degree from BYU and MBA degree from Harvard University, President Ashton has started several companies. He served as the second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency from 2015–2019. He and his wife, Melinda, are the parents of seven children.
ABOUT BYU-PATHWAY WORLDWIDE
BYU-Pathway Worldwide was founded and is supported and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its mission is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities. Serving nearly 60,000 students from more than 180 countries annually, BYU-Pathway Worldwide provides access to spiritually based degrees, completely online, at a significantly reduced cost.