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 Kusches about all that’s going on at LDSBC. Check out other Q&A articles here.
Students and faculty from the Digital Marketing 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 Kusches.
Here’s a summary of what transpired in the Q&A luncheon this month:
Question: If this is something that is being considered—or even a possibility—when do you see LDS Business College being capable of offering full Bachelor's Degrees?
Answer: President Kusch: We’re capable of doing it right now. We could do it starting anytime—if we had permission from the Board of Trustees. It’s something we’ve thought about. It’s something that we’d like to do. We don’t really have control over it. We can bring up the idea, but until or unless the Board says that they like the idea, we would not be able to offer them. If and when we ever got the go-ahead to do something like that – digital marketing is certainly one of the areas where we would start.
Q: What would be your advice to someone who is struggling to find motivation to continue learning (spiritual, professional and temporal)?
A: Sister Kusch: This is a very interesting question because it’s one that you’re going to have to address often. Maybe it won’t be that you are struggling to find motivation because I don’t think that’s true. I think you’re struggling to find time. When you’re thinking about that, you think that you have so much to do. You wonder how you can do it all. You know you need to read your scriptures, do your assignments from school, etc.
I’m going to tell you about an experience that I had a while ago. I was a full-time student who had gone back after being away for some time. It is possible. I graduated, but it was hard. I was struggling, trying to figure out how I could be a mom and a grandma and a full-time student. At the time, President Kusch was serving as a stake president in a YSA ward. To all of the members of the stake he made the following promise: if you will willingly give a portion of your time, not for Institute, to study the scriptures for your own benefit, the Lord will bless you. The promise he made was that if you’ll, before you begin your scripture study, pray and ask the Lord to receive revelation, you’ll receive insight. If you only have five or 10 minutes, then you could tell Heavenly Father that you don’t have much time and am hoping to learn something in that time. I will never forget that. I felt that I could do that.
When I determined to pray before my quick studies, I always learned something. That will help in your temporal, professional and spiritual life.
Q: I am in the Social Media Marketing program, and that’s what I’m getting my degree in, but I’m also getting my Integrated Studies degree. I don’t plan on continuing after I graduate because I love what I’m doing and learning, but I’m doing it just in case. Would you advise continuing with both degrees or just focusing on Social Media Marketing?
A: President Kusch: You aren’t going to like the answer: it really depends. It depends on what you feel is right for you. You have options, but it’s really a decision to make with your husband and the Lord.
The reason to continue and do the Integrated Studies degree is that if you ever decide to go to a four-year institution, it’ll be that much easier for you. If you do it, then it’s done. If you choose not to and just focus on social media, you could still go back and get what you need—it just may take longer. It just depends on what you’re wanting to do. I think you could, particularly in this economy, be in a good position with social media marketing in terms of employability. The important thing is to stay current—develop new skills. That may mean getting more education at school. It really depends on what your goals are though.
One of the things that we sometimes do—we all have to make short-term and long-term decisions—is make long-term decisions in the short term. Then, not long after we make that decision, we learn something and want a change. It would be easier now to do what you want to do because desires change over time. You don’t want to limit the potential of your future by having a short-term view.
Sister Kusch: If you haven’t done your Integrated Studies degree and decide that you’d really like to go back to school, you’ll be limited as to what you can do. You’ll always be happier that you did it—even if you never pursue any additional education and have a great career in social media marketing. You will never be sorry that you learned more. Education always open doors.
My father was a really good example to me of someone who never stops learning. When he retired from the job that he had for years, he decided that something he’d always wanted to do was learn to make Indian-style jewelry. So, he went to a community college and took a course to begin making jewelry. After a while, it became hard for him to manipulate the jewelry with his hands. He then decided to sell the equipment to buy tools to learn woodworking. Then, his eyesight got to the point where it was dangerous for him to operate these tools. We loaded all of his tools in the back of our vehicle and took them away. He then bought a computer with a magnified screen because he was considered to be legally blind. He wrote and he wrote and he wrote until he had written two full books for us—one all the memories he had as a child and another with memories of the grandchildren.
He taught me that continuing to learn and trying to do new things is a really good cycle to be in. Just think to yourself that you want to learn and that gives you motivation.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience choosing your career? And your best advice for choosing a career?
A: President Kusch: There is a great book called Good to Great. This book was written by Jim Collins. Along with a bunch of students, they did research on what companies did to change from being good companies to great companies. They gathered all of this research and came up with trends, patterns, principles and characteristics.
He developed this concept called the Hedgehog Concept. What was powerful in this is this model that he came up with. He applied it to companies. I believe we can apply these same principles individually. It’s something I did and it’s helped me. There are three circles in his model. You have these three circles that overlap each other. In the first circle, it’s what you are passionate about. It’s something that you really want to do and are committed to. The next circle is what drives your economic engine. Meaning, how do we make money? The last circle is what can we be best in the world at? If you can answer those three things, in the middle where they intersect is your Hedgehog Concept. That’s where companies become great.
They have examples—like Walgreens. Where are Walgreens located? They’re on a corner. Because Walgreens figured out that if they’re on a corner, they’re going to make more money. They had a model they really believed in and wanted to make that experience the best it could be.
The same thing applies to us. If you’re going to pick a career, make sure it’s something that you’re really passionate about. Make sure it’s in an industry where there’s work you’re interested in. Everyone goes to work and solves problems. You’ve got to be able to say that you want to solve these problems. If you’re going to work and say you don’t care about these problems, then you’re in the wrong job.
Companies that your generation are creating are based on products that they’re passionate about. They have a purpose. It’s not just a product to generate money. They’re passionate about it. You’ve got to make money. You might say that you’re passionate about making the best pancakes in the world, but nobody wants them. So, maybe that’s not the best thing. A company has to say, “What can we do better than everybody else?” That’s not what works for us as individuals. Instead we should say, “How can I magnify my talents to be the best I can be?” Not better than someone else. Someone else is going to come along, no matter what, that’s smarter than you. If you’re a leader and you don’t hire people smarter than you, you’re not doing the right thing. If you spend some time thinking about these things and being prayerful, my advice would be that if you can answer those three questions, you’re going to pick careers where you’ll be successful. You’re going to have to reinvent yourself over and over and over again.
I talk about the fact that for someone starting a career today, you will change jobs 10-15 times, on average, in your working life. And it’s highly likely that many of those jobs will be in industries that haven’t even been created yet. The jobs that you’re preparing for now didn’t exist 10 years ago. Jobs like drone operator, cloud engineer, big data analyst, digital marketing manager—some of these were unheard of 10-15 years ago. What you’re learning today is good for today, but it won’t be good for 10 years from now. YouTube’s 14 years old. Google’s been around for 20 years. Who knows? Maybe 20 years from now YouTube won’t exist. That’s the world you’re preparing to go into.
What you’re passionate about today, what you can make money at today and what you can be the best at today is probably going to change. Your interests may change. You may say that you want to do something different. You take everything you’ve learned and reinvent yourself. You prepare for that future. You can’t plan it. If you’re doing your best, the Lord will help you.
Sister Kusch: Another thing this book tells us is that really good companies have a start list and a stop list. As they are evaluating where they are, they’re going to look at all the processes and say what they need to start doing and stop doing. The principle is the same in all of us. Spiritually too. That’s what we do when we partake of the sacrament each week. We come in prepared asking ourselves how we are that week. Is there something we need to start? Is there something we need to stop? So, when you’re thinking about what you want to do and where you see yourself, remember that you’re making your own start and stop list. It’s another tool that will make you the happiest you can be.
Q: Will the College be changing its name the way the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square did?
A: President Kusch: Some of you may have heard the answer to this question before. We think we should be the Business College Two Blocks from Temple Square. What do you think?
Let me give you a serious answer though about that question. There was a brief discussion with the First Presidency, which I did not participate in, about a name change – after President Nelson’s conference talk on the subject. The response that came back was that they liked the name LDS Business College. Frankly, that surprised me a little bit. I went back to President Nelson’s talk in the October 2018 General Conference, and he made reference to the fact that we had been taught about using the Savior’s correct name in His Church. While we are affiliated and sponsored by the Church, we are not the Church. That knowledge put me at peace.
We would like the First Presidency to consider a name change, but if the prophet likes the name, then we do too. At some point in time, they may say that they want to change it but until or unless they do, we are happy to remain LDS Business College.
I appreciate this question. I hope that by sharing my opinions about the name, it will help other people think about the name too. We want to follow the prophet though. That’s the most important thing.
Q: What is the current procedure, based on advance enrollment, to decide whether in any given semester the College will, in fact, offer the course, will open a new section of the course, or decide NOT to offer the course?
A: President Kusch: We have, over the years, not been as sophisticated in doing this as we should have been as an institution. It’s something that we’re taking very seriously right now. We’ve actually made some organizational changes to shift some of the responsibility to other parts of the institution where they have skills in those areas. From an operational point of view, we have to be very careful about managing our average class size. It is something that we have to pay attention to because of human resource costs. We’re being very careful about that.
In the future, I anticipate that we’ll be much smarter about when we open a new section. For example, in the past, if there were a course where we thought there would be five sections—we’d open all five at the same time. With 100 students in those five sections—wanting an average class size of 30—you see where the problem is. You take those five sections and open them up and students see the best option that suits their schedule and makes things easy for them. You might have 40 students that sign up for one class. Then, you have 60 students to distribute to the other four sections. Maybe one of those sections meets at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, perhaps six people sign up for that section. You have a situation where you’re losing money on smaller sections. We’re going to be managing that much more carefully. We’ll start by opening up two sections, and when those sections are filled – we’ll open a third, and so on. It may be that every course may not be offered every semester. Students will need to plan, and we’ll help them plan. We’d like to see the average class size be at 25. Which means, that we’ll need to set the enrollment to 30 so that we actually get 25 in class. If you set the enrollment at 25, you’ll get 18. The capacity of our classrooms is much higher than where we’re setting enrollment.
Sister Kusch: The reality is that you’re going to be taking classes when you don’t want to. I had classes at 7 a.m. on Fridays when I was a student at BYU. That was back in the day when you couldn’t even wear pants on campus—you had to wear a dress. You trudge along in the snow to get to your 7 a.m. class. It’s just what you had to do. It gives you good stories to tell your children.
Q: What do you see as the next set of priorities in our online offerings and Pathway integration?
A: President Kusch: We have a great relationship with Pathway. They are taking our social media courses. They are developing a hospitality and tourism certificate that we’re not offering to our students here. We’ve been working towards a supply chain certificate and an IT support certificate. There could be something in the future in communications. We may have conversations with them about paralegal studies and medical coding.
What we offer to Pathway is really in response in things they ask us to do—as opposed to us developing things and them offering. There are some things about what LDS Business College does that are very, very attractive to Pathway. We get what they do. They are trying to prepare people with skills so that they can get jobs when they finish Pathway. They want students to have the goal of getting a Bachelor’s degree, but they start doing Pathway taking six credits a semester and that’s all they average when they’re done with Pathway. At six credits a semester, and 120 credits needed, that’s a lot of semesters you’ll have to do before you’re done. People don’t have that much time to finish. You’re talking more than six years to finish their degree. That’s why we’re focused on certificates first, so that students get skills so they can begin their careers.
Q: For Sister Kusch – What are you doing now as a spouse and parent that you wish you had been doing long ago?
A: Sister Kusch: This is really more of what I was doing with my children when they were small. I did everything for them. When they were in school, I sat beside them and helped them with their homework and went with them to their activities.
Now, as adults, we have a daughter who is a single mother. She lives in Idaho Falls. Her ex-husband has terminated his rights to be the father of their children. He is no longer in the picture at all. She’s dealing with a lot of things with her children. Over the weekend, she needed some help from us. So, on Saturday we drove to Idaho. There’s a little restaurant that’s almost exactly halfway between us. We met there and had lunch with the children, but this time it was a business meeting. We sat in the corner of the restaurant and she brought her laptop with an Excel spreadsheet so that we could look at all the areas where she needed our help. We were there two hours. We planned and helped her so she could discuss the plan with her children. That’s not any different than what we would have done if we had helped her when she was growing up. She’s ours and we help take care of each other.
We do this with all of our children. Our son is getting ready to launch a new business. Hopefully, we’ll have that up and running in August. And part of what we’ve done as parents is strategize with him, looked at floor plans, etc. With the expertise that I’ve had in the culinary world, I’ve spent hours and hours with him in the kitchen cooking together. That’s no different than what you do with a small child in your care who needs your help.
The one thing that I would do differently is be more patient with myself. You want to be perfect. The whole time President Kusch and I were married leading up to our mission in Mexico, he had very demanding Church responsibilities. He was called to be a bishop for the first time at age 26. He traveled for work and had Church responsibilities that took him away from home. I was used to that. We had figured out some things, but I wanted to be perfect in all areas.
One of the things we laughed about when they called us to serve as a mission president in Mexico was that we’d have to spend 24 hours a day with each other. We had never, ever spent that kind of time together. We found that we really liked each other and got along really well.
Q: What do you think the Brethren hope students get out of their experience here at LDS Business College?
A: President Kusch: It would not be appropriate for me to tell you how much the Church spends on higher education throughout the world, but it is a staggering amount of money. You would ask the question why the Church would spend so much on such a relatively small number of members of the Church.
There was a story that Elder Bednar told when a building was ready to be dedicated on the campus of BYU-Idaho. President Faust and then-Elder Eyring came. On a tour, Elder Eyring was up on the pulpit, looking into this big room in this big building. He had just gotten back from a trip to a distant part of the world. He stood there very contemplative. Finally, Elder Bednar asked Elder Eyring what was on his mind. He could tell he was troubled. He said he was thinking about how much we do for so few and how little we do for so many. The tithing of members from around the world pays for something they will never, ever be able to take advantage of. Why would the Brethren do what they do and invest so much in young people who come to Church schools?
You know what our mission is: to become capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ. It is because they want students to get what can only be gotten at a Church institution—a deep foundation and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can learn social media anywhere, but there are things you can’t learn anyplace else other than a Church campus. Not everybody gets to do that. All of us that have anything to do with higher education in a Church institution are really blessed and are very fortunate. What they want is for students to develop a foundation on Jesus Christ that will never be shaken.
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.