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Business management students and faculty participate in Q&A with President & Sister Kusch

Note: This is an installment in the Q&A series, reporting in the LDSBC Newsroom on informal meetings held with President and Sister Kusch and members of the College community. During the Q&A sessions, students, faculty and staff are invited to submit questions and engage in conversations with the Kusch’s about all that’s going on at LDSBC. Check out other Q&A articles here.

Students and faculty from the Business Management program were invited to lunch with President and Sister Kusch this month. They were given the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered by the Kusch’s.

Here’s a summary of what transpired in the Q&A luncheon this month:

What is your vision for the school? How is student input involved in that vision for the school?

Answer: President Kusch: I want to explain a little bit about how an institution of higher education of the Church is governed. There is a Board of Education that is made up of the First Presidency, four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Elder Cook and Elder Renlund; Bishop Caussé, Elder Gay – of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Michael Ringwood – Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department, Sister Jean Bingham – Relief Society General President, Bonnie Cordon – Young Women General President and Stephen Owen – Young Men General President. That’s the Board.

A president is appointed by the Board. Sister Kusch and I were interviewed by then-President Uchtdorf. It’s not a calling. It’s kind of like a calling, but I have no priesthood authority as far as running the school is concerned. That’s how it works.

There’s a Commissioner to the Church of Education – Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy. He’s who I report to for day-to-day issues. My vision is to make sure that the College runs in accordance with the desires of the seven prophets and the rest of the group that make up the Board. I take their confidence in me very seriously, and I go to great lengths to ensure that I don’t violate their trust.

Nobody picks up the phone and says, “Hey, Bruce. How are you? Here’s what you should be doing at LDS Business College.” They expect us to bring forward ideas to strengthen and improve the institution. We do our best thinking and then we let prophets be prophets. They either then say, “That’s great. Go ahead.” Or, “We have some concerns about that.” We’re always thinking about what we can do to improve. We’re always thinking about new programs that could be a blessing for our students.

As far as student input on vision for the College is concerned, that isn’t necessarily something that is happening here or at any of our sister institutions. Student input on needs/desires – we’re always looking for that kind of input – we have a student leadership program that we’re developing. That’s one way that we look for help from the students.

Sister Kusch: One thing to remember is that President Nelson and the members of the Board know what we’re doing here. They have approved what we’re doing here. That’s something to always remember. It’s interesting to think about why they would do some things. Just know that President Nelson, President Oaks and President Eyring – they love this school.

President Kusch: Nothing major happens here unless it gets approved. If we get a new program here, it’s because they approved it. The changes that have been made to our degree structure – they approved them.

You probably don’t know, but we recently got approval to take charge of the Carriage House by the BC Café. We’re going to turn that into what we call an Immersive Learning Center. It’s a center for employers to work with students on projects and internships. That was approved by the Board. Nothing major happens without their knowledge and approval. Some day-to-day things we go ahead and deal with, but there’s a lot that they know.

Q: How was marriage like for you when you started?

A: Sister Kusch: The best word that I can think of is – adjustment. That does not mean something bad. It just means that you have two people who have decided to join their lives in the temple by making covenants with each other.

Our growing up was very different. President Kusch is an only child. His parents were quite a bit older. His experience was very different from mine. There were four children in my family. I had one brother and two sisters. Our experiences were very different. You come together and talk about things that are important to both of you and then you make this life together – taking everything that was good from both of your experiences – and move along together.

It’s an adjustment, but in a good way. It’s kind of fun to learn about each other and what’s important. Don’t be afraid – don’t say, “I love her and she’s beautiful, but I don’t have any money.” Don’t do that. Remember what President Hinckley used to say when he was faced with something hard? It’ll all work out.

President Kusch: Marriage is a great leap of faith. She had no idea what she was getting into or vice versa. You pray and you fast. You make sure you know each other very well.

I was a stake president of a young single adult stake. At the end of every semester, we would – between my counselors and myself – probably do 100 interviews for temple marriages.

I’m not exactly sure what my counselors did in the interviews, but I would talk about the Proclamation to the Family. I would encourage them to read it before they got married. My counsel was that if there was anything in the Proclamation that the two didn’t agree on, then they had however many days before the wedding to get their lives in order. If you want to know how to establish a happy and celestial marriage – read the Proclamation and follow it. We need to rearrange how we think if there’s anything in there that we don’t agree with.

Sister Kusch: Leading up to marriage – the dating world – can be a confusing time in this generation. Text messaging is a wonderful tool, but it is not a wonderful tool to convey feelings. The words “I love you” can have multiple meanings. It just depends on how the person reading them internalizes them. If you’re talking with someone about going to dinner, you can text them to go over details. I overheard two young women coming up the stairs at BYU-Idaho. One of them was talking about how her boyfriend had broken up with her via text. The conversation was about how they could text back and get a measure of revenge. I think, in a group situation, and you see somebody who’s interesting to you, asking in person is a very good idea. If you want to text details afterward, that’s great.

President Kusch: If a relationship is going to develop and lead to marriage, you’re going to have to learn how to communicate. You’re not going to talk with your spouse via text message (in most situations). These same questions came up at a luncheon after devotional with students last week. We’re not part of your generation and we get that cultural things are much different now, but it was clear around the table that this is just how things happen now in terms of texting. Although at some point in time you’re going to need to have an in-person conversation.

Q: When is the best moment to get an internship while pursuing certificates and general studies at LDSBC? How do you choose the right opportunity? 

A: President Kusch: I would say anytime is the best time. You’re going to want to have enough knowledge that an employer will want to hire you. But, if you can do even more than one internship, that would be best. Do one as soon as you can.

One of the things that I think is a benefit about choosing internships is that you get to sort of test the water a bit to make sure that it’s an environment or career path that is interesting to you. Or, you can look at it and say, “I want to know if Supply Chain is interesting to me.” So, you’ll go and get an internship in Supply Chain. Or, you may say, “I’m doing this, but it might be nice to have some experience in Supply Chain to enhance what I’m already doing.”

I’m not sure that there’s one definition that’s right. I think you have to find what’s right and what matters most to you. It’s an opportunity to broaden your experience. It’s an opportunity to expand your skill set.

Q: How can I, as a young adult, balance my life better? I find myself falling short in work, school and my personal life because of either time management or putting too many eggs in one basket. 

A: Sister Kusch: I think you answered your own question. One of the things that helped me when I was in school was thinking about my schoolwork as a job. I went to class and tried to get my homework done and that was my focus. I looked at it that way, that it was my job to go to class and do my homework so that when I came home, I could focus on my family. I think that by looking at what we do and prioritizing what’s most important, other less important things fall away.

If you look at how you are spending your time, and those things are taking you away from keeping the covenants you have made with the Lord, then you really need to set your priorities in line. It’s hard to approach the Lord for help when you can’t find five minutes a day to read a few verses of scripture.

One of the things that President Kusch promised the students in his stake at BYU-Idaho is if you are making an effort each day to study the scriptures (five minutes or 10 minutes) by your own free will, and you pray saying that you only have x-number of minutes to study and that you’d really like to learn something, his promise was that the Lord would teach you something. That was important to me to keep myself grounded spiritually. I had so much stuff that was going on. I was working, taking a full load at school, I was a wife and a grandma – I was juggling all of these things. I found that if I grounded myself first, then I could go to Him for help. Knowing that the Savior was there, I knew that I could do it.

Q: What would you recommend for me to do during my time in college to become a successful businessperson in the future? Specifically, in terms of networking and finding a good company to do my internship for and work for after school.

A: President Kusch: Let me just talk about networking. Some people do it really well, and some people have a hard time because you have to get used to talking with people that you don’t know. As far as networking is concerned, you need to get comfortable with talking with people. You have to also think about what it is that you would want to network with someone for. What would be your goal? I think that in this day and age, people are very used to networking. It’s how people make contacts. You begin to develop a network by talking with people.

What do you do? You can find someone on LinkedIn. I hope you all have a LinkedIn profile. Find someone, send them a message and start that way.

Every missionary learned that they should do this when they were teaching someone. What do you do at the end of a conversation with an investigator? You ask them who they know who would benefit from a message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a great way to get referrals.

You make that first contact. And then you ask if that person knows anyone else who has expertise in the subject matter that you’re trying to get information about. Start with one person. That one person turns into two, and then four and so on. You create this network of people. You won’t ask them for a job, but you learn as much as you can from them. Use this as a learning opportunity. A logical question as you’re learning would be, “If I wanted to find employment doing something similar to what you’re doing, what would you suggest I do?”

Q: In your opinion, what does the Church expect from its international students in the future? Obtain all the education possible and return and help their own countries, or stay in the U.S. and help here?

A: President Kusch: This is a really, really important question. I will tell you how I have seen this question answered by those on the Board. It was really interesting – a little over a year ago, we had a meeting with all of the presidents of the CES institutions and the Executive Committee. We spent half a day talking about this very question and what the right answer is. It’s been discussed in a Board meeting with the First Presidency. The answer is – there is no answer.

It is a very, very individual decision. I don’t believe at this point that the Church is going to say that this is what we think international students should do. The vast majority of members of the Church in international locations will not be able to attend school in the United States. It’s just not possible. There would be millions that would want to come if they could. So, the few that come are really fortunate. The Pathway program helps members of the Church in many places around the world get started with higher education. Once they finish Pathway, they can continue to study online with the offerings from BYU-Idaho.

For those that come to the United States, whether you stay or whether you return to your home country is really a matter of you making the decision based on what you think is right for your family.
Some of you may know and some of you may not know about the Mexico Connect program that we have. We take students from Mexico back to Mexico on an internship expedition to visit companies. We want them to see there are opportunities to go back to Mexico to work, if they want them, with some really, really good companies. There are many multinational companies that are interested in our students. They know that they’re well educated and they speak English.

For those of you who aren’t native English speakers, if you were to go back to your home country, you will earn two- to three-times more simply because you speak English. That will always be a blessing and a benefit for you. Whether you stay here or go back, it’s a very individual decision. The Church needs good people everywhere. With the experience that Sister Kusch and I had in Mexico, we know how much the Church needs good leaders and righteous families. There’s a part of me that says, knowing what we know about Mexico, we can just see what a blessing a well-educated student going back to Mexico can be to the Church. They could also be a blessing to the Church if they stay here, so it doesn’t mean you have to go back to your own country. It’s just a very personal decision.

All students, faculty and staff are invited to submit questions for President and Sister Kusch here. Those who have provided questions may be asked to future Q&A sessions. If you have questions or feedback about Q&A sessions, please contact the College public affairs team

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