Alumni News

The Power of the Banyan


A portrait of Matthew O. Richardson.

Matthew Richardson recently encouraged alumni to share the legacy of their BYU education. Photo by Mark Philbrick.

Using a metaphor created by Karl G. Maeser, BYU advancement vice president Matthew O. Richardson (BA ’87, MEd ’90, EdD ’96) said BYU alumni are much like a banyan tree, which expands by dropping vines that take root and then spread.

“It is your responsibility, wherever you are stretched, to grow [and] to drop your new roots,” Richardson said at a recent alumni activity. “And that tree, that legacy of a BYU education, will drop into the vineyard and sink sure and fast to create a stronghold.”

Richardson equated that responsibility to the law of the harvest, but pointed out that “we reap far more than most of us will ever sow. That is the beauty of our Father in Heaven and His plan. We try to pay a debt, and He gives us bread. We return, and He gives us butter.”

Maeser, who served as principal of Brigham Young Academy for more than 15 years and whose teachings have laid a foundation for the BYU community for more than a century, is a prime example of the power of the banyan, Richardson said. “I’m sure he had no idea his life would impact generations in so many different ways.”

But, Richardson added, alumni don’t need to be a Maeser to drop roots and provide the shade of a tree to others. He gave an overview of a new Alumni Relations initiative, called RISE, which seeks to gather and share experiences of alumni whose influence has spread in ways large and small. Offering examples of people making quiet but meaningful differences in their communities, professions, and homes, he encouraged all alumni to tell their stories.

“Every single person is part of [BYU’s] story,” he said. “It’s not whether you have an amazing story, it’s that you have one. We can come together as a BYU family and have the spreading effect of the banyan tree.”

web: Read alumni stories and share your own at more.byu.edu/rise.