Employees laughing

A BYU-Idaho education blesses students world-wide

West Africa climbs a large tree in front of his house, finds a 3G signal on his cell phone, turns his hot spot on, leaves his phone in the tree, climbs down, places his laptop outside his bedroom window to connect to his phone, and does his homework.

Jon Linford, online vice president, began his opening remarks at the All Employee Conference with that true story.

“It illustrates some of the issues we face when we talk about taking a BYU-Idaho education all over the world,” Linford said.

For the remainder of his address, Linford discussed the purpose of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the blessing it provides to individuals throughout the world, and how BYU-Pathway and BYU-Idaho are both collaborative and distinctly separate.

Linford answered the question of “Why Pathway?” by explaining its two-fold purpose—to accommodate the increasing growth of education among members of the Church throughout the world and to provide education access to individuals with distinctive needs.

The online vice president explained that online students are often individuals who missed the window of going to college. They typically work one or more jobs, have families, and are juggling many adult responsibilities. Pathway benefits them because they can enroll without a high school diploma or ACT score, and they can take their education at the pace they need.

“They are looking for a flexible experience, and because they are part-time students, the pacing is different,” Linford said. “Sometimes these students take 7, 8, 9, or 10 years to finish. They come in and out. Life intervenes, they have to stop, and they have to be able to come back in.”

Finally, Linford explained how BYU-Pathway and BYU-Idaho are connected even though they are two legally separate entities.

BYU-Pathway is a service provider and interface for online students that distributes BYU-Idaho online courses but is not a degree-granting institution itself.

BYU-Idaho grants the degrees and provides the course materials and instructors. Together, however, the two agree to exchange services, systems, data, and funds.

Linford concluded by explaining how the cooperation between the two will bless thousands throughout the world.

“BYU-Pathway Worldwide and the work we do at BYU-Idaho will combine to make a school of Zion happen wherever the Church is organized.”

BYU-Idaho: a blessing because of the restoration

The blessings that hundreds of thousands of individuals receive from attending and contributing to the mission of BYU-Idaho would never have been realized if it weren’t for Joseph Smith’s First Vision.

Ed Sexton, dean of the College of Business and Communication and emeritus Area Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke about the tangible blessings that have come as a result of the restoration during his keynote address at the All Employee Conference. Focusing on the invitation given by President Russell M. Nelson in the October 2019 general conference, Sexton discussed how we can immerse ourselves in the glorious light of the restoration and discover how its events have blessed us and our loved ones.

Sexton began by sharing his experience of reading the story of the First Vision for the first time as a young 13-year-old boy.

“I pulled a Pearl of Great Price off my mother’s bookshelf,” Sexton said. “I went into my bedroom and saw Joseph Smith History. When I read that account of the First Vision, it was as though from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet were on fire. I knew without any doubt that Joseph Smith’s account was true.”

Sexton then shared how some events following the First Vision have been a blessing to him and his family. One of these events is the organization of the Church.

To illustrate, Sexton told a story related to him by Elder Joaquin Costa, a general authority seventy. While Elder Costa was serving as a bishop in Buenos Aires, Argentina during economic distress, only three out of 300 members of his ward were employed. But because of the fast offerings of those around the world, no one in his ward went hungry.

“There are tangible blessings that come to us because of the organization of the Church,” Sexton said.

Another event Sexton mentioned was the restoration of the sealing keys in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. Because of this event, the Church was authorized to gather Israel and seal families together.

“What if the keys for the gathering of Israel had never been restored? How would that have affected you and your loved ones?” Sexton asked.

To close, Sexton reiterated President Nelson’s promise given to us at the last general conference.

“The general conference that will come in April, as President Nelson has indicated, will not just be memorable but unforgettable if we have done what he has asked us to do,” Sexton said.

BYU-Idaho employees inspire colleagues

Employee conference breakout sessions covered topics that could help employees in their jobs, relationships, or spiritual growth.

In a workshop led by Health Program Outreach Manager Tara Stevenson, Tara shared how to lead like the Savior did and how humbling it is for her to follow His example. She also addressed how constantly we need to do a self-inventory of ourselves to know where we are, and where we want to go from there.

Other instructors touched on how to help the students they teach. Lane Williams, faculty member in the Communications Department, shared insights he has learned as a teacher on how to help students improve their writing. He invited other faculty members to encourage students to be more accurate on details.

Leading an exercise where students learn how to express clear thoughts in just one sentence improves their writing process.

Scott Johnson, Chemistry Department faculty member who participated in Williams’ session said, “I don’t think I can use all of his ideas, but there are two that I can go back and implement right away. I think it is going to help me teach my students to be better writers.”

Associate Dean of Faculty Development Bob Morley discussed the importance of handling life’s most challenging conversations, and how communication fails when we do not address those conversations. Morley taught that self-evaluation, listening skills, and open communication are skills that we need to develop, rather than not expressing ourselves and acting passive-aggressively and damaging relationships.

“Without charity, without seeing people as people and as God sees them, they will always be as sounding brass to us,” Morley said.

Employees that attended said they were grateful the university provided them this opportunity to be uplifted and find better ways to go about what they do.

“I am grateful for the chance to have some professional development and ponder some of these topics that sometimes we are not able to do throughout our daily routine. It is nice to rub shoulders with peers and colleagues, learn from them, and ponder on ways we can be better people, employees, fathers, mothers, friends, and stronger disciples of Jesus Christ,” said Housing Director Troy Dougherty.

If you missed the employee conference, you can view select classes on the All Employee Conference webpage.