Each fall brings a new beginning and level of excitement to the faculty at Brigham Young University-Idaho. It is the start of a new academic year full of teaching, learning, and “rethinking education.”
The phrase “rethinking education” was originally stated by President Henry B. Eyring in his BYU-Idaho address titled, “A Steady Upward Course.” and can be used as an accurate representation of the theme of this year’s general faculty meeting.
President Eyring was the first to speak to the faculty, addressing the university’s new offering of concurrent classes for high school students. Offering these courses will help prospective students prepare for college and familiarize them with BYU-Idaho’s Learning Model.
“We don’t want to promote an associate degree in high school—high school is a good thing. Our encouragement to students who want to come to BYU-Idaho is that they do some of our classes online in anticipation of that. We’ll get students who are more college-ready and more inure to and appreciative of the Learning Model,” Eyring said.
To conclude, President Eyring related a story of a former Ricks College professor he had known who would take struggling students out for burgers and milkshakes. Eyring expressed his confidence in the faculty’s ability to change students’ lives one by one by showing personal interest, just as this professor did.
“His memories are of changing lives, one by one. He mentored everybody, and I know that’s the case for you,” Eyring said.
After the president’s remarks, Academic Vice President Kelly Burgener gave an overview of the Academic Administration Office’s stewardship report. He shared five points and likened them to stepping stones that help the university maintain its steady, upward course:
• Institutional learning outcomes
• General education
• Student success and mentoring
• Rethinking curricula and curricular structure
• Enhanced learning and teaching
“I see ahead of us a faculty who teach with concentrated power,” Burgener said. “I see a faculty filled with even more collaboration, more creativity, more energy. I see professional development that is substantial, collaborative, energizing, and above all, student-focused. Professional development that we would be confident in presenting to the Savior and saying, ‘This is my finest work.’”
Van Christman, associate academic vice president over curriculum, addressed faculty, expanding upon the steps introduced by Vice President Burgener. One substantial topic covered by Christman was the new general education curriculum coming Spring 2019. He stated that the Academic Administration Office has decided on how many credits to require for general education and which categories, but the university has yet to determine which specific classes will be required.
“The final decisions take place in Dean’s Council,” Christman said. “But, we invite you to visit with your dean. We invite you to share with your deans your ideas and your thoughts.”
The next topic of the meeting was split by Art Department Chair Brian Memmott and Scott Galer, associate academic vice president over Student Success. The two spoke on the developments of the student success program and the importance of student-faculty mentoring.
“There are amazing resources on this campus, and as we learn to collaborate with them, we’re going to do a lot better job of reaching each of these students and helping them in ways that they need,” Memmott said.
Galer introduced three of the resources that can aid faculty in their mentoring efforts. These tools can be found at www.byui.edu/mentoring/who-can-i-mentor.
The first is a resource titled, “Identify Surface Signals,” and it helps instructors spot at-risk students. The second tool can be found through I-Plan and accessed through a link provided on the mentoring website. The third is a new system adopted by the university called the “Faculty Mentoring Tool.” These software programs allow the professor to see a student’s GPA, their last LMS login, their course attempts, and other various, helpful information.
The final remarks of the meeting were given by Associate Academic Vice President Rob Eaton, who emphasized the importance of mentoring, ministering, and reaching out to the one.
“We have hired disciple leaders who also happen to be great teachers,” Eaton said.
Eaton shared some personal experiences he has had while reaching out to his struggling students—whether academically or spiritually. Eaton used role-playing to teach the audience how to effectively mentor and to give them practice interacting with struggling students. At the conclusion of his thoughts, Eaton expressed that he is confident the faculty at BYU-Idaho will be successful in their ministering efforts and that they will change the lives of their students forever.