SALT LAKE CITY — President Russell M. Nelson, the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was given an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Utah during its virtual commencement ceremony on May 6.
President Nelson was one of three honorary doctoral degree recipients in addition to education advocate C. Hope Eccles and William J. Rutter, known as the “father of biotechnology.”
During a video prepared by President Nelson for the ceremony, he stated that, “No matter what your field of endeavor, it’s well to excel . . . do your work well, do it as well as anyone else can, and then it all equalizes out.”
He enjoys a long history with the University of Utah as a student, research professor, and director, earning his medical degree in just two years.
President Nelson performed the first open-heart operation using the heart-lung machine in the state of Utah, a device he helped develop while a medical resident in Minnesota.
In 2018, a Presidential Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery was created at the University of Utah in his honor.
“I’ve had the great sorrow of burying my wife and two of my precious daughters. Those have been challenges that have tested my ability to deal with hard things. You learn to deal with your challenges . . . and make good decisions, hopefully. I chose just to be in charge and try to do what’s right, ” he said.