Students and community members swarmed the Cox Auditorium and Burns Arena for the dedication of the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons Friday morning.
Seats began to fill an hour before the event started to harp prelude music and excited chatter from those in attendance.
The event began with the Dixie State College Herald Trumpets playing the “Nadauld Fanfare” followed by a welcome from DSC President Stephen Nadauld.
As Nadauld was addressing the audience, he was interrupted by the entrance of former DSC Student Body President Delmont Truman. Truman, accompanied by St. George Mayor Dan McArthur, crooned the tune “Are You From Dixie” as the audience cheered and clapped along.
The surprise musical number was followed by remarks from Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who spoke proudly of both the new building and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints First Presidency.
“Many of the students, I think, will be better if they will remember the values of the man after whom [the building] was named,” Bell said.
Bell was followed by David Clark, former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives. Clark spoke of the stepping stone that the Holland building is for DSC.
“This building will become the academic heart and soul, the anchor for the 12,000-15,000 students who in a few short years will be then attending Dixie University,” Clark said. “I am proud to understand that it is our turn to leave our children and our grandchildren a community that is better off than the one that we found, and now is that time, this is that way, and today we celebrate that.”
Next, the audience heard remarks from Stan Plewe, DSC vice president of administrative services.
“I have often contemplated what it would be like to die and go to heaven,” Plewe said “Today I feel like I am on the porch looking in; though, I think the door is still locked.”
Plewe told the audience about the order of events that lead to the plans for and construction of the new building and outlined both hardships and highlights of the process. He said after presenting to the board of regents, he was told a quote from historic architect Daniel Burnham that affected the way he planned for the building.
“Burnham said, ‘Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s love and probably themselves will not be realized…make big plans, aim high,’” Plewe said.
Plewe also acknowledged the role Nadauld played in the success of the Holland building.
“President Nadauld not only brought the campus spirit, but made believers and builders out of the entire Dixie community,” Plewe said.
Plewe’s remarks were followed by comments from David Buxton of the Utah Department of Facilities Construction Management, Celestia Carson and Derek Payne of VCBO Architecture, and Doug Welling of Jacobsen Construction.
The speakers beamed with pride for the building’s timely construction and easy plan collaboration, as well as for the advanced level of the technology inside.
“As you look at this building today I want you to understand that it is the future,” Buxton said. “The technology in this building is leading edge… I have opportunities to go throughout the state to visit many of the buildings being built, and this is, by far, the technical building that exceeds all others in the state.”
The next speaker was Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of the LDS church. Uchtdorf expressed his great love for the St. George area and his appreciation for an invitation to be a part of the dedication.
Uchtdorf also expressed his adoration and respect for Holland.
“He is a unique blend of wit, warmth, selflessness and spirituality,” Uchtdorf said. “Wherever he goes, whoever he meets, people feel that they are his very best friend, and in many ways they truly are.”
Uchtdorf spoke highly of Holland’s wife, Patricia, asking with a grin why her name was not also in the title of the new building.
He closed his remarks when he said, “I do hope and pray that all who enter this beautiful and organized building will do so with the desire to praise the same values which are so well-represented by Elder and Sister Holland.”
The final remarks of the dedication program were given by Holland. He approached the podium to a standing ovation from the crowd and nodded in humble appreciation as they cheered.
Holland began by thanking all those who had spoken before him for their kind words and hard work and dedication to the new building.
He then smiled and said, “There are a couple of times in life where you should not say one single, solitary thing: One of these is your own funeral…and the other is when institutes you love and the participants in them are reckless enough and foolish enough to name a building after you.”
Holland modestly admitted that when he was first approached about the building being named after him, he adamantly refused until the true purpose of the building was brought to his attention.
“They told me, ‘It is a commons building for a common student with common dreams and a common life and maybe a common goal,’” he said. “There was no more common student from any more common background, with any more common resources ever to visit Dixie State than I.”
He then said that once he understood this connection to the students, he was more at ease with the building being in his name. Holland said he was grateful for the opportunity to help the tens of thousands of students who would utilize the building for their education.
Holland then invited his wife to stand with him at the podium.
“We aren’t much,” Holland said. “But everything we are you’ve given to us… and someday, God will really bring us home, and we will be buried where we were born, in this rugged, beautiful, cherished entity.”
After Holland finished his remarks, the crowd made its way to the Centennial Plaza for the ribbon cutting.
The ribbon cutting ceremony began with the song “Elder Holland’s Opus,” performed by the DSC Herald Trumpets.
One side of the ribbon was cut by Patricia Holland and Margaret Nadauld, and the other side was cut by Holland, Uchtdorf and Bell.
The crowd was then ushered into the new library for the dedicatory prayer, given by Uchtdorf.
“As we dedicate this building,” Uchtdorf said. “We also honor the man whose name it bears… May his life and example be a motivating power for the teacher, the learner and all who make an effort to know more of him, and Pat, and what he stands, and what they stand for.”
Among the thousands in attendance was Scott Howell, Utah senator and DSC alumnus. Howell attended the event with his wife, Linda, after touring the building two weeks before.
“When we went up to the top corner and I looked out and saw the old dorms and my old room, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that someone had the vision to build such an edifice to help the students here to compete in a global economy,” Howell said. “The technology, the innovation and the creativity that goes into this building bodes well for every person who will come here to study.”