In 2000, the largest private junior college in the United States, Ricks College, became Brigham Young University-Idaho. At the same time, it began operating year-round and offering online courses. The goal was simple: serve more students.
In May 2017, an historic collaboration was announced to continue that goal by formally connecting BYU-Idaho’s Pathways program with Arizona State University.
Arizona State University President Michael Crow traveled to Rexburg, Idaho, along with several leaders from Arizona, to launch the program with BYU-Idaho President Henry Eyring. With this program, transfer students who might not otherwise be able to graduate from ASU would be guaranteed admission after meeting credit and score requirements through the existing Pathways program.
To the uninitiated, the two universities have little in common. They do, however, share an urgent interest in programs that prepare students for meaningful lives and careers.
During the Rexburg visit, President Crow became the first non-Mormon ever to deliver a devotional address at BYU-Idaho. He focused his address on shared values between his institution and the Church, and left his audience with a challenge to “create an environment where the full potential of the individual human can be realized.”
Through collaboration, the Church and ASU will create an environment that is accessible to people of all beliefs and acknowledges that learning need not separate from a student’s religion.
This announcement is only one of several Church connections and opportunities new to Arizona in the last several years. There are now two Institutes of Religion at ASU – one in Tempe and one in Mesa – that keep high-achieving LDS undergraduates contributing on campus while enabling them to grow their faith. There is also a free immigration legal clinic in downtown Mesa, supported by the Church and staffed by graduate students and volunteers.
Retaining the best talent for the state has been a community affair. Thanks to two generous scholarships set aside for LDS students choosing ASU, the Pioneer Heritage Scholarship and the Beus Family New American University Scholarship, recipients can reach higher. Leo Beus, co-founder of the law firm Beus Gilbert, says he and his family feel blessed to support students with the scholarship that carries their name.
“For those living in the area, there is no longer a need to run somewhere else to meet others,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen at a Family Education Night on ASU’s campus last January, noting the five young adult stakes in the area. “Here you’re surrounded with hundreds of wonderful young people who have the same beliefs you do, along with a world-class university where you can learn and grow, have the diversity of students and professors, and a welcoming institution like we have here at ASU.”
The experience left a great impression on Brother Beus. He says of the Rexburg announcement, “As a resident of the Phoenix community and someone who cares deeply about the God-given potential of every young LDS person, I celebrate such opportunities, even when the connection may seem unlikely.”
We have the powerful opportunity to foster future leaders by serving our God, our neighbors, and our students.
Story by Allison Beckert, The Arizona Beehive