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Photos: President Nelson receives honorary degree from the University of Utah

In May of this year, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was named as a recipient of an honorary doctoral degree during an all-virtual commencement for the University of Utah. On Tuesday, June 15, thanks to the easing of local COVID-19 restrictions, university officials delivered the honorary degree citation and doctoral hood during an in-person visit in the Church Administration Building on Temple Square.

The degree citation notes the prophet’s “significant contributions to medical science” and his “vast accomplishments as a scholar, educator, and religious leader” around the world. Former Presiding Bishop H. David Burton, who serves on the university’s board of trustees, read the citation to those gathered for the occasion before it was given to President Nelson.

Prior to his call to be an Apostle in 1984, President Nelson was a heart surgeon revered and respected the world over. He performed the first open-heart surgery in Utah in 1955. He served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association, and president of the Utah State Medical Association. He authored numerous chapters in medical textbooks and other publications.

As a physician, President Nelson was perhaps best known for his part in the development of an artificial heart and lung machine small enough to function in an operating room. Made possible by the invaluable support and encouragement of his first wife, Dantzel, it was an achievement that heightened his appreciation for the gift of life.

Dr. Michael L. Good, an anesthesiologist and the interim president of the University of Utah, noted how he and others have been blessed by President Nelson’s pioneering work in developing the artificial lung, which has helped victims with more serious complications of COVID-19.

“Some of these very severe COVID cases so affect the lungs that we have to put the patient on an artificial lung for a period of days. And it can be lifesaving,” Dr. Good said. “So, as a humble anesthesiologist traces back your work to our methods, it’s really an honor to participate in this award.”

President Nelson responded by quoting from the fourth chapter of the gospel of John in the New Testament (John 4:36–37). “A scripture comes to mind as Dr. Good speaks about the generational impact of what one generation means to another,” the prophet said. “One man soweth and another reapeth. And he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

Also present Tuesday at the presentation of the degree and doctoral hood were President Nelson’s wife, Wendy W. Nelson; his counselors in the First Presidency, Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring; President M. Russell Ballard and Elders Jeffrey R. Holland, Ronald A. Rasband and Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Christian Gardner, chair of the University of Utah board of trustees; and Katie Eccles, vice chair of the university’s board of trustees.

The video interview below with President Nelson, played during the May virtual commencement, honored the prophet’s legacy as a University of Utah student, research professor, and director.

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President Nelson, the Church’s 17th president, was one of three honorary doctoral degree recipients announced by the University of Utah in May. The others were C. Hope Eccles, an advocate for education, and William J. Rutter, an American biochemist.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy, greet H. David Burton in the Church Administration Building on June 15, 2021. Burton, a former Presiding Bishop of the Church, serves on the University of Utah's board of trustees. He joined other university officials to give the prophet an honorary degree citation and doctoral hood.
President Russell M. Nelson smiles as he speaks with Dr. Michael L. Good, interim president of the University of Utah, and other university representatives. They visited him in the Church Administration Building on June 15, 2021, to deliver an honorary doctoral degree and hood.
H. David Burton, a former Presiding Bishop of the Church, serves on the University of Utah’s board of trustees. He joined other university officials in the Church Administration Building on June 15, 2021, to give the prophet an honorary degree citation and doctoral hood. Here, Bishop Burton reads the citation text to President Nelson.
President Russell M. Nelson smiles as he speaks with Dr. Michael L. Good, interim president of the University of Utah, and other university representatives. They visited him in the Church Administration Building on June 15, 2021, to deliver an honorary doctoral degree and hood.
President Russell M. Nelson signs the University of Utah’s official register of honorary degrees in the Church Administration Building. In May of this year, the prophet was named as a recipient of an honorary doctoral degree during an all-virtual commencement for the university. On Tuesday, June 15, thanks to the easing of local COVID-19 restrictions, university officials delivered the honorary degree citation and doctoral hood during an in-person visit.
The University of Utah honorary doctoral degree citation for President Russell M. Nelson.
Representatives from the University of Utah (left) and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency applaud after President Russell M. Nelson is given an honorary degree citation and doctoral hood from the University of Utah in the Church Administration Building on June 15, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson received an honorary degree citation and doctoral hood from the University of Utah in the Church Administration Building on Temple Square on June 15, 2021. Pictured from left to right are: H. David Burton, University of Utah Board of Trustees member; Katie Eccles, vice chair of the Board of Trustees; President Nelson and his wife, Wendy; Christian Gardner, chair of the Board of Trustees; and Dr. Michael L. Good, interim president of the University of Utah.
Press release from Newsroom.
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