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 Interior Design program were invited to breakfast 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 breakfast this month:
Question: What does the future of LDSBC look like? Growth? Purpose? If you could implement any initiatives or changes to LDSBC what would it be? Do you see LDSBC growing out of its current structure in the foreseeable future? What will the new name of the school be?
Answer: At this point in time, we do not anticipate a name change. It’s been discussed. Names have been informally proposed, but we understand that the First Presidency likes the name. You might ask after President Nelson’s talk in October Conference, doesn’t it seem like it needs to be changed? After I heard about this, I went back and looked at President Nelson’s concluding comments, 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. 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.
Our purpose as an institution is to prepare our graduates for really good entry-level employment. We’re not preparing managers – our students certainly are future leaders – but we don’t have the same mission as a four-year school. Our focus is very much on preparing students in really powerful ways for entry-level employment. We provide them with the knowledge on how to handle a career. If you want more education, that’s your choice. There have been some things that have transpired over the years – changes we have made to know who we are as an institution. We know who we are and what we do. These changes have really brought a lot of things into clarity for us.
If you look at the world that you’re going into when you’re finished with your studies, you’re going into a world that’s exciting and ever-changing. Sister Plumb would know better than anyone how interior design has changed over the past 20 years or so. What changes more in society than style? You’re going into a world that will have industries created that we haven’t even thought about or heard of yet. Google is only 20 years old. The iPhone is only 12 years old. Qualtrics was acquired for $8 billion dollars last year and it’s only 17 years old. This pace of change will only accelerate, and we want you to be prepared for that. That’s our purpose. Our mission is to develop capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ. We want you to be prepared in the professional world but also with a spiritual depth that will help you thrive as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. I’m not sure if in the history of the College we’ve been as focused and resolved as to how we do that as we are now. It’s part of our growth and our progress as an institution. We’re really excited about where we are with our curriculum structure and with what we’re doing with general education.
Q: Would you ever consider turning the Interior Design program into a four-year degree?
A: We’re not sure we need to with what we did last year – adding additional credits so that you can get the NCIDQ certification. Our understanding is that interior designers with an applied associate’s degree and an NCIDQ certification will earn more on average than an interior designer with a bachelor’s degree – and within about $1,000 a year from someone with a master’s degree. It’s a profession that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree to do really, really well. If you look at the 60-credit requirement to qualify for the NCIDQ, that’s more credits than a bachelor degree requires. You get more out of than what you put into a bachelor’s degree program for 40-50 credits less. That means you’re out earning money sooner.
Every student who graduates from LDS Business College is automatically accepted into BYU-Idaho Online. While it might take you a little longer to finish, you could get a bachelor’s degree. With your education at LDS Business College, you would have some experience to go with your degree. Here’s one of the powerful things about our model – with the skills that you leave with, if you want to continue your education, you’re able to earn at a much better rate because you have skills. If you just get an associate’s degree at any community college, you can’t really do much with it because you don’t have the experience to go with it. You get experience, certificates and skills here – which is what employers are begging for. You earn better because you have the skills.
Q: What would your idea of a healthy relationship between school, friends and family, and church be?
A: It’s impossible to balance all of that. If you are juggling everything and think you have to give equal time to each of them or you’re failing – you’re wrong. It’s just not possible to give equal time to everything. You have to be aware that there are times in your life where children are your number one priority, and then it will shift to a Church responsibility, etc. The key is to keep your life in balance with the covenants you make in the Church. If you’re unable to keep your covenants, you need to take a look at how you balance things. You simply do the best that you can with everything. You treat life like a job. You work and do things from 7 a.m. until dark, but you still have to schedule time for a date and other things like that. You still have to make time for Church and have an active social life – all while being an active, trusted disciple of Jesus Christ. You just do it to the best of your ability. Be wise about your choices. It’s easier said than done. You have to make choices, and there are some choices that are difficult. What we have to worry about here, is what we do here. We want to help students manage their lives.
Sometimes we waste a lot of time. If you have a difficult time trying to manage everything, our first suggestion would be to take a look at what you do on social media. If you’re on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or whatever for two hours a day – which is very easy to do – that’s two hours that you could have had for a date. Take a look at what you’re doing on your phones and make adjustments. We want you to have fun. We’re not telling you that you have to do this or that, just be careful with what you’re doing with your time.
Q: Are there solid plans in place to make design changes to the school?
A: We had a group last semester that gave us some really wonderful ideas on how we could change our building architecturally, and we’ve looked at a number of things with regard to our building. The most radical would be a complete redesign of all 10 floors. It’s also the most expensive.
About a year ago, we were presenting our five-year plan in our Board meeting. The Board consists of members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, among others. We were talking about potential growth and other challenges with the College. One of the biggest challenges we would face would be elevator capacity. President Nelson responded, “Brother Kusch, are there stairs in your building?” And that was that. If the elevators are crowded, take the stairs.
What we do have approval for at this point is for a build-out of a space on the 10th floor, which right now houses janitorial equipment. We’ve talked about some of your ideas that we want to incorporate. We have this idea of an open-space work environment where there are very few walls. It’s designed for full and complete collaboration. We’ve looked at some options with movable walls and things like that. The open-space design is just incredible. We want to do something like that. We know that there’s a lot of refreshing that could be done.
Q: What is LDS Business College doing to improve communication between student resource departments (e.g. SDC, Admissions, Financial Services)?
A: Never having been a student here, we have not had first-hand experiences with some of the frustrations that students have felt. We have not yet reached a measure of perfection. We have taken steps over the last few years to really try and improve all of this coordination. When Sister Kusch first got here, she spent some time working with our students and getting to know the overall student experience and started us on a path to student improvement.
We are trying to move all of student services into one cohesive organization. At some point in time, we would like to move all of student services to the same floor. Kind of like a food court. As far as what students need, to be able to go to one floor, that would be huge. I’m hopeful that at some point in time we’ll be able to do that. If we did that, I think it would make it easier for students to find what they need.
It is so much improved from what it was when we got here. Night and day. When you have systems that are complicated, software that’s antiquated and you try to squish those two together and make it work for students of all kinds, it’s a real challenge. What we did was try and look at every student touch-point – from the first time that a student gets accepted – to when they graduate and walk away. We went through a list of everything that wasn’t working and whittled things down to what was the most important. What were the easiest things that we could do to make it easier for students to navigate. Once we figured that out, we went and looked at the next five. As much as we would like to make everything perfect with a snap of our fingers, it takes some time. It takes time to look at new software and figure out which one will be the best for our students in our situation. Things are 1,000 times better than what they were and things will continue to improve. One thing we found – because our students are here for a shorter period of time – the amount of training that has to happen with student employees is enormous. The amount of turnover of student employees is great. We love our student employees and want to make sure that they get the best training possible.
We want to provide the best experience for you that we can. That doesn’t happen overnight, though. If there have been mistakes that have been made, it wasn’t because someone was trying to sabotage your education. Try and think about jobs that you’ve had where you’ve tried to do your very best. That is what’s happening on every single floor.
Q: President Kusch, What responsibility or opportunity do you enjoy most in your role as President of LDSBC?
A: It was then-President Uchtdorf who extended the call for us to serve in this position at LDS Business College, and it was then-President Uchtdorf who extended the call for us to preside over a mission. One of the comments he made to us was that it was going to be like zone conference every day. We thought that if that’s the case – that was the part that we loved the most – being with our missionaries and learning from them and teaching them.
We love you. We are so grateful that you’re here. We have the opportunity to teach an institute class once a semester which means that we get to have 30 students in our class from all over the world. We get to know them even better than most other students. We love to get in the elevator and hear Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese. That’s part of what we love here. We love to learn from you. We love to hear your testimonies about how you came to be a follower of Jesus Christ. So, in the classroom with the students is a favorite place for us. Just seeing you at devotionals and being able to shake your hand and say hello is wonderful. We want this to be the best experience for you as it possibly can be. And we mean that. We pray for you every day.
One of the things that’s most humbling is to attend Board meetings. Elder Holland gave the prayer at the last meeting, and President Eyring gave the prayer at the meeting before that. Prophets prayed for you. Prophets prayed for blessings to be poured out onto the institutions of higher education. When President Eyring came to devotional last semester and then afterwards for the luncheon, you could tell that he really loves this school. The Brethren really love this school.
These are some of the reasons that make LDS Business College a really special place. We want you to know how much we love you and how grateful we are for you. Prophets, seers and revelators know about this place. They know a lot more than we think they know about this place, its purpose and its future. This institution is loved.
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.