Those who teach at BYU-Idaho can inspire students to become disciples of Jesus Christ. BYU-Idaho faculty recently gathered on Zoom for their annual fall semester faculty meeting to discuss how they can do just that.
New Faculty at BYU-Idaho
In years past, fall faculty meetings included meeting new faculty that have joined BYU-Idaho in the past year. Dean of Faculty Development Sidney Palmer shared statistics regarding BYU-Idaho's new faculty members.
“In the past four years the university has gained approximately 124 faculty, which means that nearly ¼ of our faculty have been here less than five years,” Palmer said.
In the past two years, BYU-Idaho has gained 51 new faculty members, representing 9% of the faculty at the university. This fall semester will be some faculty members’ first chance to teach regular, in-person classes on BYU-Idaho’s campus.
Currently, the university has approximately 850 campus-based faculty members, 600 of these include full-time faculty and 250 adjunct employees. The university has approximately 1,800 online employees and 50 remote adjunct employees that assist from around the world.
Palmer reminded employees to utilize BYU-Idaho’s learning model and the different tools that can help faculty members.
“The BYU-Idaho learning model was created, shaped, and developed by teams of faculty members who worked in inspiration to capture principles that develop lifelong learning and discipleship,” Palmer said.
Developing Disciples of Jesus Christ
Associate Academic Vice President of Curriculum Van Christman spoke about focusing on being disciples of Jesus Christ this school year.
Christman announced that in order to accomplish that, the university will use the BYU-Idaho learning outcomes, taking one year to focus on each individual outcome.
“We can see what we can do to enhance that [learning outcome] in our students and help them to increase that particular learning outcome; and help each other to know what we need to do in the classroom or outside of the classroom to help our students develop those critical skills that they will need as they move out from BYU-Idaho into the world they will face,” Christman said.
This year the university will focus on the first principle of BYU-Idaho’s learning outcome: Becoming Disciples of Jesus Christ. Christman illustrated that in order to become disciples of Jesus Christ, students and employees will strive to accomplish these four principles.
1. Understand the doctrine and principles of the Restored Gospel.
2. Make and keep covenants.
3. Live standards of honesty and integrity.
4. Work as faithful stewards of the Lord.
“Over the next three semesters, we will have opportunities to share with one another these ideas: How do we help our students learn? What am I doing in my class? What are you doing in your class? What does it mean to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ?” Christman said.
Associate Academic Vice President of Student Success Scott Galer and his team taught faculty how they can improve their collaboration between Academic Support and Student Life.
Galer emphasized how important it is for both students and faculty to feel a sense of belonging in the courses that are offered at BYU-Idaho.
“At the heart of student success, of course, is belonging. Arguably, the most important sense of belonging needs to be between students and between you and your students,” Galer said.
Chairmen of the Academic Support and Tutoring Department Don Bingham focused on details of what Academic Support does in relation to the current pilot program that has recently begun at the university.
This pilot program is formerly known as English 102R which began Fall 2020 Semester and will be reclassified in 2022 as GS 102R Strategies for Academic Success. The program’s focus is to help students who struggle academically from a faculty-directed, tutor-led course.
“Students will complete a learning self-assessment and use that information to create semester-based academic and learning goals, that they work with a one-on-one tutor, under the direction of the course instructor to accomplish over the course of the semester,” Bingham said.
In the past year, since the beginning of this program, enrollment has increased dramatically due to the Academic Advising Department who helped identify, recruit, and encourage students to take advantage of this course. This has helped increase enrollment from 9 students in Fall 2020 to over 210 students planned for the upcoming Fall 2021 Semester.
Director of Career and Academic Advising, Sam Brubaker acknowledged the Academic Advising’s efforts to support over 34,000 unique students in the past year. Brubaker reported the university’s full-time advisors spent over 9,700 hours to better aid students with various needs during their time at BYU-Idaho.
Student Success Manager in Career and Academic Advising, Kevin Worthen, concluded the presentation by discussing the university’s Academic Tiers Initiative. This initiative consists of three tiers, assisting students that are at different academic levels before graduation.
The first tier includes a proactive and preventive measure to help students that are between 2.0-2.5 GPA, before they drop to a 2.0 level.
The second tier consists of students between a 1.0 and 2.0 GPA, who start working with experienced advisors to evaluate and take steps to improve.
The final tier helps students with less than a 1.0 GPA who are in jeopardy of not graduating on time and require more intensive attention and intervention in order to improve their GPA for graduation.
Worthen reported that there are currently 5,588 students that are in these three tiers and provided guidance on how faculty can help students by referring students that might fit these categories.
“We have so many awesome resources on our campus that can help students, so make those referrals and check in with us if you’re not sure where to go and we can help you out,” Worthen said.
The university's Academic Vice President Jon Linford shared how unique BYU-Idaho is and the vision going forward that the university seeks to reach.
Linford emphasized how the university's students, faculty, and policies make BYU-Idaho unique and special. He emphasized that the role of faculty is a major key in what prepares students for challenges and helps the university grow further.
“I believe BYU-Idaho has a specific mission to participate in the gathering of Israel and preparation of the Second Coming, and I also believe the faculty here have a critical role to play,” Linford said.
In his time as a university academic vice president, he has created three academic goals and principles for the university.
The first principle includes BYU-Idaho’s learning model, emphasizing the principles of the model rather than the process. Linford reminded faculty that the principles in the learning model have great values which make BYU-Idaho special.
“Brothers and Sisters, our job will be to strengthen testimonies. We must see to our own testimony first; we must each be careful that we are strong and firm in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, we do all we can to infuse that spirit and testimony into what we teach,” Linford said.
The second principle involves enhancing the first-year experience for new students at BYU-Idaho. This will involve requiring beneficial courses for students to take during their first year such as a homeroom experience, group cohorts, and basic core educational classes.
Linford also stressed the importance of face-to-face classes at the beginning of students' educational pursuit, followed by online classes when internships or job opportunities can be more available for students near graduation.
The last principle Linford addressed focused on curriculum reform and helping students be more prepared for life after college. Students will benefit from potential certificate-based classes and hold employable skills early on in college.
Linford then reviewed the three goals and principles shared, but also recognized the challenges we currently face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a time for all things, and I know that pandemic recovery has to come first. We have to make sure that our students and our employees are whole and that we are back and able to do the things that we are called to do,” Linford said.
Thoughts from the President
President Henry J. Eyring concluded the online faculty meeting with his closing remarks. During his remarks, he expressed his gratitude and confidence that he has for the faculty of BYU-Idaho.
“With a faculty as large as this one, not everyone can be an individual representative. I feel that on the President’s Council you are well represented. I think that together we are qualifying for Heavenly Father’s protection and guidance. I have a sense the Savior is mindful of us, especially this week and in the weeks to come,” President Eyring said.