Brigham Young University is a unique school, and students should help maintain its quality by conscientiously following university standards, President Gordon B. Hinckley said Tuesday.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke to several thousand BYU students and faculty during a devotional in the Marriott Center.Many universities throughout the nation that originally were sponsored by churches have lost the sense of their missions, but BYU has maintained a strong spiritual base and has developed a quality academic program, President Hinckley said.

"We have never lost that uniqueness. We must hold tenaciously to it," he said. "Without it there would be no justification whatever for sponsorship by the (LDS Church) and the use of the tithing funds of the people to support it."

Students can support BYU's role by upholding its standards.

"The honor code to which you subscribe is also related to this. It is designed to ensure the presence on this campus of a student body of young men and young women with standards above the cut of the world at large, ideals that are conducive to spiritual relationships, and a social atmosphere of respectability," President Hinckley said. "I hope that you will not resent this code of honor and its requirements. Rather, I hope that you will subscribe to it wholeheartedly. In so doing you will affect in a very positive and meaningful way the distinctive quality of this university."

Another important aspect of BYU's spirit is its willingness to look openly at important issues, he said.

"We are sometimes accused of being narrow and secretive. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be embarrassed over. Our history, our actions, our programs are not such as to cause us embarrassment when and if they are discussed in the full and true context of the environment and time of their occurrence."

BYU is an example to universities throughout the naion because it has proven that it is possible to combine a strong academic program with religious education, President Hinckley said.

"On this campus we must have the highest of academic standards. We must be second to none," he said. "That does not mean that we are trying to copy some other great institution. It does mean that in the pursuit of our academic goals we must not be sullied by lack of integrity as scholars, but, rather that we must pursue our quest for truth in a diligent and excellent way without forsaking the perspective that comes of recognition of God as the eventual source of all truth."