Three Great Imperatives
(Reference: Kim B. Clark, Excerpts from "Inaugural Response," October 11, 2005)
As I look forward to the future, my starting point is the mission of this university. We have a wonderful, inspired mission to build testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; to educate our students with high quality; to prepare them for the responsibilities they will face; and to create here a wholesome, righteous community in which students may thrive spiritually, intellectually, and socially.
I like to summarize our mission with two words. The first is disciple. Our mission, our very purpose, is to educate, develop, and prepare disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. This purpose is deeply rooted in this university. In a way that I have found remarkable, this is a student-centered university. It is that way by divine appointment. The Lord watches over this university in a direct and powerful way. He is mindful of the individual students who come here. Our purpose is to help them become His true followers, His true disciples, a light to the world.
The second word is leader. When I use that word I have in mind leadership with a small ‘l.' This is the kind of leadership we need in every part of every kind of organization in our society. We want our students to provide the kind of leadership that serves, and inspires-first and foremost in their families and in the Church, in their communities, and in their work. Listen to the words that Elder Eyring spoke four years ago about our students:
They will be natural leaders who know how to teach and how to learn. They will have the power to innovate and improve without requiring more of what money can buy. Those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become-and this is a prophesy that I am prepared to make and make solemnly-those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve (Elder Henry B. Eyring, A Steady, Upward Course, Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, September 18, 2001).
That is our mission. As we pursue that mission in the years ahead, I believe there are three great imperatives before us, three great things the Lord would have us do. The first is that we must raise substantially the quality of every aspect of the experience our students have. As good as it is today (and believe me, it is very, very good), every dimension of the BYU-Idaho experience-spiritual, intellectual, social-must increase in its quality. We must do all of this to better prepare our students for a very challenging world. This will require inspired innovation and important changes in many aspects of our work....
The second great imperative is to make a BYU-Idaho education available to many more of the young people of the Church. But this must be accomplished within the resources that the Board already has given us. We have begun this process with the three-track admission system. Because we learn and teach on this campus year-round, we serve many more students than the 11,600 or so who are on the campus at any one time. But we must continue to search for creative ways to organize, schedule, and calendar the educational experiences of our students so that more of them may come.
As we do so, I am convinced that we will find new ways to use information technology to reach more students and to deepen the learning experience of those we touch. In a day not far from now, we will be able to break down the barriers of time and space and connect our students on internships or between semesters to the university and to each other and create outstanding, interactive educational experiences. In these experiences, students will teach one another in new and powerful ways. This capacity to educate effectively across time and space will allow us to leverage the capacity of the university and reach many more young people.
Imperative number three: we must lower the relative cost of education. BYU-Idaho is already a remarkably efficient school. We have taken to heart and learned well the lessons of the pioneers: modest, disciplined, doing more with less, taking good care of what we have, willing to consecrate what we have, and trust in the Lord. In the years ahead we must continue to put our culture and those pioneer lessons to good use. Even as we seek to increase quality and serve more students, we must pursue new ways to be more productive. We will not get there just by squeezing the organization, nor will we get there by cutting corners. Our path is one of consecration and deeper knowledge of the processes of learning and teaching. With that depth and that consecration will come new ways of learning and teaching that will yield a higher quality experience while requiring relatively fewer resources per student....
I believe that at BYU-Idaho we must learn to use new technologies and develop methods, materials, programs, and concepts that not only can be applied to our students on and off our campus, but also can be effectively and efficiently applied by others across the Church and, indeed, across the world. I am convinced that this university is in this valley where our pioneer heritage is deeply ingrained, where the people are humble and faithful, so that we can be a proving ground of great fidelity for education that will bless the young people of the Church worldwide.
View the entire Inagural Response of President Kim B. Clark.