Pathway is a new educational program that Brigham Young University-Idaho is utilizing to reach out to individuals to whom may feel that the opportunity for a college education has passed them by. Learn has President Kim B. Clark discusses how the Pathway Program will positively impact thousands around the world enabling them to find their own pathway in life.
Alan: I'm here today with Kim B. Clark, he's the President of Brigham Young University Idaho. And Kim, welcome to today's show.
Kim: Thank you
Alan: You know, you’ve been the President here for going on eight years?
Kim: That's right, just finished my eighth year.
Alan: Eighth year, and you know, a lot of people know you from coming off of your successful career at Harvard, serving as Dean of the Business School for several years. But you’ve made tremendous strides and accomplishments here at BYU Idaho, one of them is in the area of a new program that you're launching. It’s in its infancy but it's quickly growing, called the Pathway program.
Alan: What is the Pathway program?
Kim: Well, Pathway is a program where we combine online coursework from BYU Idaho with attendance at an Institute of religion. So, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we’re affiliated with has institutes of religion all around the world. These are buildings that have been built to serve students who are in and around colleges and universities - around the world. And so what we do is, we open up opportunities to take courses from BYU Idaho and combine that with religious education at an Institute so students can begin to gain access to higher education where they live. Pathway, the program at Pathway encompasses what we call, 15 credit hours of study. So, it’s a three semester program with five credit hours per semester. The idea is to help students get ready and be prepared, to then find their pathway. Whether it's with us in our online degree programs or with local schools, or other options they might pursue. We want to try to help people really improve their lives. And so, that's what Pathway is.
Alan: You know, you mentioned the Institute program, there is a lot throughout the world about how many?
Kim: There are about 1000 institutes around the world, and they literally are all over the world.
Alan: So in essence, this gives you a 1000 satellite locations…
Alan: Potentially, okay, but it makes the ability to launch this much easier once the local leaders are behind helping get the students involved.
Kim: You’re absolute right. One of the things, it's so critical to understand Pathway is that we are making use of and really, joining with the church. Because it's the local church leaders who really provide the impetus for the program at the local level. And it works best where Pathway becomes part of their ministry, and that's what we've learned. A key part of the program at the local level is what we call Church Service Missionaries. Mostly couples, generally retired, that are called and put in place by the local church leaders where Pathway exists. And those couples are trained by us, our Pathway organization folks, train the couples and then they basically run the program at the local level. So, everywhere we go we’re using institute program, and we’re using the local church leaders and local missionary couples to really give the program its substance and form and personal touch at the local level.
Alan: When we go back to the local level, I know you touched on this before, but typically, who are the local leaders looking to enroll into a Pathway program?
Kim: There are two groups that we serve, one group is 18 to 30 and those people are generally young adults. They have either not been to college or they haven't made progress in college. They've left, they’re not making progress in their lives they want to - the church leaders want to reach out and bring them back. Into, not only into full activity in the church but also into a full and productive life. The other group are people over 30, we also serve people over 30. And those folks tend to be people who always hoped they could do a college degree but never had the opportunity. Many of them have discovered that they can't really support their families or make progress in their lives because they need more education. And a variety of, there are a variety of motivations but everybody in Pathway are - the target is for people who want to improve their lives. To see education as a pathway to a much, much better life. Not only for themselves and their families but for their ability to serve and to be a more productive citizen in society. And a better neighbor, someone who can really give and serve more than they do. So that's kind of our target, trying to reach out to those folks. And the local church leaders, they're the ones who know the people. They are the ones who know who they are, and so they are. And the missionaries who work, they go out and touch people and they invite them in and so forth. So, that's been why we wanted to do Pathway, so to just open up opportunities for people.
Alan: Now, how does Pathway differ from other educational programs?
Kim: Well, I think one thing is that the Pathway is really a transitional program, it’s a, we call it an academic start, that’s the content that’s there. And its intent is, and its objectives are much broader than just taking courses. So, there are 3 objectives and I'll tell you the language we use to describe the objectives. And we remind ourselves of this language all the time, so we keep in mind the really deeper purpose for why we’re doing this. So the first one, is to help individuals get the gospel of Jesus Christ down in their hearts to truly become converted to the Lord. The second, is to become lifelong learners. And the third, is to support their families and lead their families in a more productive way, and to live providently. So if you look at that list, its: Faith, Learning, Family.
That's the purpose of Pathway. Now, the educational dimension comes into play in all those places because we do religious education where people learn and understand the gospel. We do a, we help people learn how to learn. So, they’re not only learning math and English but they're learning how to learn, especially how to learn online. The third one, we’re giving them in terms of supporting their families, we’re giving them now a foundation on which they can build. To gain new skills, new understanding and knowledge. That will be valuable in the marketplace and will allow them to increase their income and then support their families more affectively.
Alan: Where did the inspiration for Pathway come?
Kim: You know, it's fascinating to us. This idea has been around for, the idea of taking education out from the University out, has been around for a long time. For example back in 1971, then Ricks College, so, BYU Idaho grew out of Ricks College. Ricks College became a four-year school, it’s now called BYU Idaho. Ricks College got a new president, Henry B. Eyring, he came from Stanford, became the new president of Ricks College and in his inauguration he said, now this was in 1971, 72. He said Ricks College must, we must find ways to take education out to people, young people around the world who may never come here. He said that in the early 70s, and that idea was reiterated by President Bednar when he was here in the late 90s, and I said it in my inaugural address. And so we all felt it, and around 2007, I'd been here two years, I had in my mind that we needed to do this. I felt the time was right and so the idea of combining it with the institutes came and we began to explore and work on it and it is just evolved and developed over time, starting in about 2007. So we did the first pilots in the fall 2009, in 2011 Pathway became approved program, so our board of trustees approved it. And today we're up and going, we’ll be, this fall we’ll be in about 145 sites, 90 in the US about 55 outside and will have about 7000 students in Pathway this fall.
Alan: What are some of the areas of study in the pathway program?
Kim: Well Pathway begins in the first semester of course with religious education as I talked about, students studying the book of Mormon. But we have a course we call Pathway Life Skills, and that's a course that helps students learn how to plan, how to organize and set goals, how to understand to live providently, how to think about their future and live in a way that will allow them to achieve what they're trying to do. It’s a great course, has a big impact on people. Then we have courses in Math and English and that’s the basic academic curriculum along with their religious education program. And so, what we’re trying to do is help students gain the foundation that they'll need to be successful in their higher education pursuits whether it's going after a certificate, or other additional coursework to pursue a degree. Pathway is designed to help them get started.
Alan: The program is currently available, looks like it's quickly expanding but how does a person find out? If they have interest in pathway, how do they sign-up?
Kim: Well Pathway is, operates as follows - the signing up takes place at the local level through the programs that exist at the local level. And if you want to find out if there's a Pathway site near you, you can go on the BYU Idaho website and just search for Pathway. You’ll get to the Pathway site and on that site, there's a list of where Pathway’s offered. And we’re a lot in the US about 90 sites in US. But we’re in selected countries outside so it’s still growing internationally and it continues to grow domestically as well. But our website’s the right place to find if there's a site near you and then the sign-up process, the registration and all that stuff takes place at the local level through those church service missionaries.
Alan: Is there a cost associated with Pathway?
Kim: Yes, Pathway has a tuition. So there are five credit hours each term, some of the classes in the first and in the academic start, there's no charge because they’re offered by the institutes. But the courses offered by the University have a tuition associate with them. Tuition in the US is $65 a credit hour. Now to give you a comparison, at campus here at BYU Idaho our tuition say, starting tuition right now I think is about $1800 a semester, maybe a little bit less. In Pathway, and our credit hour cost here is about $140 a credit hour so it's a much, it’s less than half of what it is on campus. And that is much lower than the cost of college education on average around the country. So that's where it is in the US, and in other countries it’s lower depending upon the income level of the country.
Alan: When a person enrolls in Pathway, are the credits then transferred into the University?
Kim: Yes, so what happens is a student enrolls in Pathway, they take courses from us and when they need it, when they need to transfer credits or say to matriculate into BYU Idaho or into another school then the University creates a transcript for them that can transfer to wherever they go. And the courses they take are transferable to other institutions and transferable of course to BYU Idaho.
Alan: So they can stay at a local university?
Kim: Yes, in fact the whole idea behind pathway, the name, is to help each student find their pathway. And it might be to do an online degree with us or get an online certificate from us but it might also be that in their local area, there's a great option for them. And now having done Pathway, they have both the confidence and the skill to be able to pursue that local option.
Alan: How does the program reach out to those that don't have the confidence to succeed?
Kim: Well, there, they are the people we’re trying to find and try to reach. And the way it works is through those local Priesthood leaders, local missionaries, and it works word-of-mouth; it works retail, it's one by one. Where somebody like a Bishop in an LDS ward will have a ward counsel with all the leaders of the church in that ward. And they'll talk about you know, you know there's Mary over here who is really struggling; she might be a single mother, she's really struggling to support her family she could really use education. And then someone will be assign to go talk with Mary, and help Mary know about the program. And we also hold, locally we hold meetings, we have Pathway meetings where we describe the program, there’re Flyers in the various chapels in the areas where we have Pathway sites. So, we do use some media that way, but mostly it's one by one.
Alan: Is there a way where a potential student of Pathway could help direct a local leader to get signed up in the area if there, if it currently is offered?
Kim: Oh sure, the way that works, the local church leaders are the ones who request a Pathway site be designated in their area. And so that request comes to us, we work with the local leaders, we have a whole application process with a kind of outline for them, this is the kind of things that you need to, we need to know about. And so they layout okay, here’s our situation, here’s how many we expect, here's work we think we can do, and then we process it internally. We have priorities that are established based on those criteria and then we take them to the board, and then the board approves the new Pathway sites. So yeah, if somebody wants to have a Pathway site they just talk to their local church leaders.
Alan: And you're expecting that the board presentations that are made, at the stake level or region level?
Kim: You know, it goes to the Board of Trustees for the University. So we take it, so the board has an executive committee and it has a full board. And we have to go through both when we do new Pathway sites that are, when I say a new site I mean like internationally, it’ll be a new country for us. Domestically it’ll be a whole like, a whole new area that we haven’t been in before; that goes to the executive committee and then it goes to the full board. And just so you understand, the full board is chaired by Pres. Monson, who’s President of the church, his two counselors in the First Presidency are the other officers of the board. There are three members of the Quorum of The 12, that serve on that board, Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks and Elder Scott and then there's a member the Presidency of the 70, which is Elder Hallstrom and the President of the Young Women's organization sister Oscarson and the President of the Relief Society, Sister Burton, that’s the board.
Alan: So going back to the motivation between the creation of the Pathway program, how has the program been received so far?
Kim: You know, Pathways a miracle, it's just amazing because we discovered a couple things. First, when you go into an area and you offer to people a church-based educational opportunity that they never imagined in their whole lives they'd ever have. And you make it available to them at a very low price and right where they live, what happens is two things. One, they begin to feel hope in their life; and two, they really begin to experience God's love for them in a new way. And so what we find in Pathway is, that people who come in are thrilled to have the opportunity and so they get engaged and they begin to discover things about themselves they never imagined; like I can do this, I can take college-level courses in Math or English, I can do this work and so that hope builds in them and they begin to gain confidence. And as people do that, of course there’s also a spiritual dimension to this that they begin to, because we teach them things about how to get their lives in line with truth so that they begin to live true principles and that their faith begins to increase and their activity and involvement in their faith grows and all this is very positive in their lives and so they feel it and the local church leaders see it and their children and spouses and friends see it and so it begins to have this positive reinforcement that grows and that’s what we see in these Pathway sites.
Alan: Do you have to be a member of the LDS church to participate in Pathway?
Kim: Yes, that’s the policy. Yep you need to be a member of the church. That may change at some time but right now that's the policy.
Alan: Okay, what do you feel the long-term impact the pathway will be?
Kim: Well in a family, long-term impact is enormous. I’ll tell you just one little example we have a Pathway site in Idaho Falls and recently we had a young woman speak to a group of people that we call the President’s Advancement Council here at BYU Idaho. People that come from all over the country, who come and help us, support us. And we had this young woman who spoke along with a few other Pathway students and you know, here’s her situation. She’s 28, she was married when she was 16, she has three children, she never imagined that she would have an opportunity go to school; she's been through Pathway now. She has come back to the church, she was not been active in the church for a longtime. She's come back to the church, there is a new energy and hope in her life, she's planning to do a degree and gain a degree, a college degree. It will ripple through the generations, her children will be greatly blessed because their mother has shown them how important education is. Their mother has faith in her life again, her husband, she and her husband will bring their family closer together and faithful in growing that family. And the children will be far better off, they'll be more educated, they'll have greater faith and their children, and their children, and it’ll just ripple through the generations. In addition this young woman has the capacity to be of great service, not only in her neighborhood, so forth, but in the church, and she will be a great leader and she will touch the lives of many people. I can imagine this young woman becoming say, a President of the Young Women's Organization in her ward. And she will touch the lives of tens of hundreds of young woman. And so, the Pathway program in one life has just enormous impact on thousands of people well you just multiply that thousands and thousands of times, and that's the impact of Pathway.
Alan: Has the advances in technology helped the launching of this Pathway program?
Kim: Oh no question, no question about it. Yes, it’s very, very important to be able to do this in a very distributed way. So that a student in Moscow Russia, because we have a pathway site in Moscow, can go online and have a speaking partner, that’s another part of the program, who is in say, the United States, who speaks with them once a week for half-hour on the topics of their study, helping them learn English. Because all the courses we teach are in English. And so, since you have to have a basic level of English to start, they want them to grow in their capacity as they take the courses, and so we have a speaking partner program. Not possible if you had to do it 10 years ago; today they can get on like Skype, it’s free, it’s perfect not possible otherwise, and there’re many, many examples like that.
Alan: How do you fine speaking partners?
Kim: You know, it's interesting. It's all volunteers; we put out the word, we use our website, we use the church, we use the University, we use the Pathway program itself to encourage people to sign up to be a speaking partner. You can sign up on our website to be speaking partner. And you only have to be a member of the church, 18 years old and above and you have to be a native English speaker. And if you are, then you can be a speaking partner and you sign up to do half-hour a week, you pick your half-hour when you want to do it and then some student somewhere in the world will sign up and you'll have a speaking partner for that semester.
Alan: Are there other ways that individuals can volunteer to be part of the Pathway program?
Kim: Wherever Pathway exists, at the local level there are always opportunities that emerge. And it's all organized and led by the church leaders and so, if somebody's interested in volunteering at Pathway sites, they just need to talk to their local church leader. And say you know, I'd love to have this opportunity some time. And as Pathway matures there will be other roles, for example, Pathway students will need mentors, they'll need people who can connect them to job opportunities, connect them to other kinds of experiences that will help them in their lives. So, there will be opportunities for people to serve.
Alan: So, once again, if individuals want to find out more information on the Pathway program where do they go?
Kim: The best locations are our website, BYUIdaho.edu, and go on the internet, go to our website, just put Pathway in the search bar and it’ll take you to the Pathway, you know, click on the Pathway site and there you are. You can learn all about it and you can sign up to be a speaking partner, you can look to see where Pathway sites are located and you can see what you have to do to request a site, it’s all there on that sight. President Clark, thank you, thanks for being on today’s show.
Kim: You’re welcome.
Alan: I’ve been visiting with President Kim B. Clark, the President of BYU Idaho about the Pathway programs thanks for joining us today.