On February 7, 2017, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the creation of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, a new Church-wide higher education online organization. The program known as Pathway was to be renamed to PathwayConnect.
President Uchtdorf explained that PathwayConnect provides "a bridge into the world of online college education and a pathway to opportunities for a successful livelihood."
BYU-Pathway Worldwide's Responsibilities
Church Educational System Commissioner Kim B. Clark further explained that BYU-Pathway Worldwide would have responsibility for the PathwayConnect program, and would also “coordinate all other CES online higher education certificates and degrees, including English language certification, technical and skills-based certificates, and online degrees.”
Clark G. Gilbert, who was serving as BYU-Idaho’s president, and who had been instrumental in the creation and vision for the Pathway program, was installed as the first president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide. Henry J. Eyring, a long-time supporter of BYU-Idaho then serving as the academic vice president, succeeded President Gilbert as BYU-Idaho’s new president.
The many years of friendship and collaboration between President Eyring, President Gilbert, and Commissioner Clark would prove to be essential for the formation of a new relationship between these distinct and complementary institutions of the Church Educational System.
- Would not seek institutional accreditation since each online certificate or degree would come from BYU-Idaho or another CES institution.
- Would also create an online student services system where students could “access information about online courses and programs, apply, register, take courses and access advising and career services in one online location."
Relocation of BYU-Pathway Worldwide
It was also announced that BYU-Pathway Worldwide would relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah, near the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This required a large number of BYU-Idaho employees to move with their families from Rexburg, Idaho, to the Salt Lake area. This move was made in order to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the many Church entities who support or engage with BYU-Pathway Worldwide, including:
- Other CES schools
- Seminaries and Institutes
- Welfare and Self-Reliance Services
- Area Presidencies of the Church
In his inaugural charge for President Clark G. Gilbert, President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted that “PathwayConnect’s overarching purpose is to help students continue their education,” but also added that the program enables students “to succeed in life, not just in school.” He further observed that “The PathwayConnect program truly helps students find courage, go forward with faith, and achieve their life goals, whether professional or educational.”
President Gilbert’s Inaugural Response
President Gilbert explained in his inaugural response that BYU-Pathway Worldwide would be focused on providing educational access to the many students unable to attend school at a traditional university campus. He explained that BYU-Pathway Worldwide would be focused on access and would therefore not include “the broader resources that come with a full-service university"
Two core areas of emphasis would include:
- The first-year PathwayConnect program and its role in building hope and confidence
- Highly relevant gateway certificates that engage students in the practical elements of discipline, stimulate curiosity, and boost confidence.
President Gilbert also noted that BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s efforts go beyond helping students earn a degree or find a job. He explained that BYU-Pathway Worldwide was also “grounded in the fundamental work of building disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Impact of BYU-Pathway Worldwide
The creation and announcement of BYU-Pathway Worldwide was a joyful next step for those committed to extending educational opportunities to the many across the globe who have been prevented from achieving their educational aspirations. BYU-Idaho’s innovative efforts to reduce the student opportunity gap evolved into a new CES institution with a mission to expand the early Pathway program worldwide.
Today, thousands of students who believed higher education was beyond their reach are obtaining an education and becoming “disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.” Together with BYU-Pathway Worldwide, BYU-Idaho’s online certificates and degrees have a wider reach than ever before.