Imagine having a group of 65 experienced, educated friends take two days to visit and give counsel on ways to improve your professional efforts. That is exactly what happens every year at BYU-Idaho’s President’s Advancement Council (PAC).
Each May, friends of the university and those who support its mission gather together for a two-day conference where the BYU-Idaho story is shared and attendees give their advice with administrators on how to improve and further its goals.
Last month, individuals and professionals came from all over the country to participate in this year’s council. The result was four constructive and beneficial counsel sessions on how to create and inspire natural leaders.
Scott Galer, associate academic vice president, led the first counsel session.
Galer introduced the university’s placement model and how it helps students obtain employment after graduation. He shared some of the ways the university is working toward this goal, including moving the location of the Career Center to the Manwaring Center, creating more mentorship opportunities, and expanding the student success course.
During this conversation, PAC members expressed the importance of mentorship and student accessibility to resources that will help them discover their interests and desired career path.
“[Mentorship] is so important,” a PAC member expressed. “Professors are valuable mentors.”
Vice President Jeff Morrin facilitated the second counsel session on ways in which the university can preserve its culture of frugality.
Morrin compared BYU-Idaho costs to other universities and noted that the three-track system is one of the unique ways in which the university saves money and utilizes resources. He also invited four young BYU-Idaho employees to share their personal stories on how they’ve practiced frugality in their areas of work. PAC members then discussed the question, “As BYU-Idaho continues to grow, how do we preserve our culture of frugality?”
PAC members emphasized the importance of leading by example. One PAC member said, when talking about how to inspire frugality among students and employees:
“Don’t say [they should be frugal]; it becomes preachy. Show it, and students will want to mimic.”
Another PAC member expressed the importance of demonstrating to students and employees that frugality is an inherent characteristic of BYU-Idaho.
“It needs to be seen as a part of you. It’s not a goal you are trying to reach. It is who [you] are at BYU-Idaho.”
Vice President Jon Linford conducted the third counsel session on online learning and how it has been beneficial for the university and its students. Not only is it cost-effective, but it distributes education to people and parts of the world that would not normally have access to education. As a result, students have the opportunity to interact with individuals from all over the world.
“Students from Rexburg get to rub shoulders with those from Moscow, Sydney, etc.,” Linford said.
This student interaction is a positive trait of BYU-Idaho online courses. Each course requires and facilitates both peer and instructor communication.
“It would be very easy for us to build a program where it would just be students secluded with their computers without interaction, but we don’t do that,” Linford said.
One PAC member praised this interaction and the ability students have to take online courses in conjunction with their campus courses.
Another PAC member expressed that the ability for students from different areas of the world, with different backgrounds, to enroll in the same courses and interact with one another, will spark ingenuity and forward-thinking progress.
“Having a multicultural environment spawns creativity and innovation. BYU-Idaho’s ability to do that will bring innovation.”
President Clark G. Gilbert facilitated the last session, and focused on how BYU-Pathway Worldwide is working to create natural leaders through online classes.
President Gilbert explained that Pathway courses are unlike any other online classes offered at universities. Not only are students placed in a cohort that regularly meet and interact with one another and their instructors, but the learning model and honor code create a constructive environment where students support one another in their educational pursuits.
One PAC member shared their experience in a Pathway class:
“It is amazing. It’s student-led, and the instructors are available just to help out. A very beautiful spirit, humble, non-entitled. It was just powerful. The spirit was there, and the cooperation was there. It was positive not competitive.”
President Gilbert also shared a positive experience he witnessed participating in a Pathway class.
“I attended a class… and realized I had entered their sacred learning space,” Gilbert said. “One member was writing an equation on the board and made a mistake. The Pathway cohort didn’t step in and correct her; they asked a question to prompt reevaluation and were patient with her. The student fixed the equation, and the class started clapping.”
PAC members then discussed how Pathway can be integrated into ward council meetings to help members of the Church that could benefit from the program. One suggested inviting members to share their testimony of the Pathway program, and another suggested that promotional materials be distributed.
President Gilbert closed the session by expressing how BYU-Pathway Worldwide is positively impacting the world.
“BYU-Pathway Worldwide is preparing the Church for the return of the Savior.”
Preparations for next year’s PAC meeting are already underway to continue these valuable conversations that help the university find ways to improve, grow, and better serve its students and employees.