OREM — Utah Valley State College and the Orem Institute of Religion, which stands on the school's Orem campus, celebrated another year of close-knit friendship Friday.

"You guys are phenomenal contributors to the school and we appreciate you being a part of the university," said UVSC President William Sederburg at an institute devotional.

The president, who is a Lutheran by faith, gave a few personal details about his life and shared some inspirational thoughts with the congregation.

He encouraged institute members to get to know themselves by learning to accept their personal strengths and weaknesses.

"We really are three people: How we see ourselves, how other people see us and who we really are," he said. "I think only God understands who we really are."

The key to success in school and in life, Sederburg told students, is to have a strategy. In order to accomplish big things, one must first have goals and then be willing to accept help.

"So many people just kind of stumble through life hoping they are going in the right direction," he said. "I think you need to think about establishing a legacy."

Sederburg said he became an "affiliate member" of the LDS Church because he spent so much time working on his genealogy — a well-known LDS pastime — at a family history center in Big Rapids, Mich.

From doing genealogy work, Sederburg said he learned how important it is to be conscious of the legacy he was leaving behind by the way he lived his life.

While doing family history work in Iowa, Sederburg found that nobody had anything nice to say about his Aunt Gertie. She wasn't pretty and she wasn't nice, everyone told him.

"The point of genealogy is Aunt Gertie," he said. "When it comes down to it, people are only going to remember a few phrases about you. Hopefully those phrases are nice."

Despite the fact that he was raised in a "split family of Lutherans," Sederburg joked that he had a lot in common with LDS Church members.

"A lot of the traditions of the LDS here in Utah are really Scandinavian traditions," he said. "For example: My family is really into Jell-O. And, what's more, we're really into sticking stuff into Jell-O."

Although Sederburg said he has never felt like a foreigner in largely-LDS Utah, he worries that there is a strain in the community between those who are of the LDS faith and those who are not.

"There is a trend in the region of not involving people from the outside," he said. "Lutherans need to understand LDS people and LDS people need to understand non-LDS people."

E-mail: estuart@desnews.com