Ensign College INSTITUTIONAL ADJUSTMENTS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Can you provide some background regarding the name change?
A: The College has had five names since its inception in 1886, and has been called LDS Business College since 1931. Previously, the name had been LDS College, but in the early years of the Great Depression, when the Church was no longer able to support the College, the only department that remained was the Business Department. Thus, the addition of “Business” to the name.
Additionally, with the other changes that have been approved and announced, the Board of Trustees felt this was the appropriate time to change the name of the College.
Q: Why the name Ensign College?
A: On July 26, 1847, two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young and several other men hiked to the top of a mountain he had seen in vision prior to beginning the trek west. From their vantage point, one thousand feet above the valley floor, Brigham Young described his vision and the men “began to lay plans for the future city.“ 1 That spot, Ensign Peak, rises just north of where the College is located. It was given that name because it was a symbol of the "spirit of international outreach and the ancient promise that here one could learn the ways of God." 2 Throughout its one hundred and thirty-four year history, Ensign College, now located in the shadow of Ensign Peak, has provided such an environment.
Q: Was the name BYU considered as part of a name change to be consistent with the other CES institutions of higher learning?
A: No. We wanted the College to have a name distinct from the other CES universities and BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
Q: What is the effective date of the name change?
A: It is September 1, 2020, to coincide with the beginning of the new academic year.
Q: Ensign College has been granted approval by the Board of Trustees to offer three applied bachelor of science (BAS) degrees along with its name change. What are they?
A: Business Management, Communications, and Information Technology.
Q: What prompted the decision to seek approval to offer these degrees?
A: Approximately 80% of our students are in programs where transferring to another school is a necessity. Many of our students would prefer to stay and finish a degree with us. It will be more affordable for them and because of personal circumstances, many are not in a position to move to attend another school.
Q: Why these three degrees?
A: Demand. We wanted to create a model that would allow the institution to serve the maximum number of students, without needing to create a large number of degrees. The structure and framework of the degrees allows the majority of our existing certificates to stack into these applied degrees. We also believe that nearly all future curriculum offerings will stack into these degrees.
Q: What about students who wish to transfer to Ensign College to finish a bachelor’s degree? Will you welcome them and accept transfer credit?
A: Absolutely! We will welcome transfer students and will evaluate all credits earned at other institutions.
Q: With the introduction of these degrees, will Ensign College be offering any new programs?
A: Yes. We are in the process now of creating a Certified Management Accountant curriculum that we are particularly excited about. We will also be offering a new digital content creation certificate. Others will come.
Q: Why bachelor of applied science degrees, and how do they differ from a bachelor of science degree?
A: The primary difference is the applied nature of the curriculum. Our programs will be very focused on job readiness, just like our two-year programs. We work closely with employers to make sure our graduates get real-world experience through projects and internships. Our instructional model immerses students in real-world environments from the very beginning of their time with us.
Q: Will students who earn a BAS degree be able to attend graduate school if that is their choice?
A: Absolutely. We do not believe a BAS degree will be a deterrent in any way. We have spoken to a number of universities and they have indicated they would be happy to have our graduates. Every graduate program will define their own prerequisites and those are things we cannot control. Our goal is to create programs that are of the highest quality. And, while getting students ready for graduate school will not be our primary focus, we think those who want advanced degrees will be able to do so.
Q: Will this affect Ensign College’s accreditation status as a two-year institution?
A: No. We will preserve our two-year status. Our accrediting agency, the Northwest Commission for Colleges and Universities is very familiar with efforts such as this. For example, over 30 community colleges in the state of Washington offer similar degrees, and community colleges in many states are awarding bachelor’s degrees.
Q: How will this affect the three BYU schools that also offer bachelor’s degrees?
A: We believe this will complement the offerings by the other schools. One of the purposes of the BAS degree is to fill gaps in curriculum. None of the schools in the Church Educational System or any Utah school offers a Certified Management Accountant program.
Q: When will the degrees begin to be offered?
A: Fall 2021
Q: Online learning is everywhere now. What is so remarkable about Ensign College’s entry?
A: Actually, Ensign College has been offering online courses for several years now, so it’s not really an entry but an expansion. Three of our existing certificate programs are being offered now through BYU-Pathway Worldwide and BYU-Idaho online.
Q: What are your plans for expansion then?
A: Ensign College’s curriculum will continue to be unique within the Church Educational System in its focus on job-ready skills. There are members of the Church around the world that will benefit from having access to the College’s curriculum online.
Q: Are you competing with BYU-Pathway Worldwide and BYU-Idaho?
A: Not at all. What we will be offering will be complementary to what BYU-Idaho is doing. There are programs they offer that we don’t or won’t and vice versa. We will develop a closer relationship with BYU-Pathway Worldwide through a service agreement. We will also be working closely with BYU-Idaho to have articulation agreements in place.
Q: Will you be serving students around the world?
A: Yes. We do this now and anticipate we will serve even more in the coming years.
Q: Do you have specific programs in mind that will be offered online?
A: Medical Billing and Coding is one of our programs that will soon be offered online. We also are looking at a Project Management.
Q: These are certificate programs. Do you anticipate offering degrees online?
A: Yes. Our Associate of Science degree will eventually be available online, as will our BAS degrees. We may also offer several of our Applied Associate of Science degrees online.
Q: Will BYU-Pathway Worldwide students who are now BYU-Idaho students become Ensign College students?
A: Those are some of the details we are working on with BYU-Pathway Worldwide. Ensign College will award the credit for BYU-Pathway Worldwide students enrolled in Ensign College programs.
Q: Can you describe the relationship between BYU-Pathway Worldwide and the College?
A: The two institutions will enter into a service agreement. Ensign College will continue to develop its curriculum as it does today. A fundamental difference will be that all certificates and degrees offered by Ensign College will be labeled as Ensign College curriculum. Additionally, as mentioned above, Ensign College will be the institution granting credit and providing transcripts.
Q: Will students who come to the Salt Lake City campus be able to complete certificates and degrees online?
A: Certainly. The same online courses, certificates, and degrees offered through BYU-Pathway Worldwide will be available to our students. The only exception is for international students who have a limit on the number of online courses they can take as a condition of their student visa status.
Q: What effect, if any, do you anticipate this will have on enrollment? Are you expecting significant growth?
A: We anticipate this will have a positive effect on our retention, as many students will be able to stay and finish a bachelor’s degree with us if they choose. We also anticipate that these changes will have a positive impact and influence on choosing Ensign College. We certainly hope to see modest growth as a result of the changes.
Q: What about hiring more faculty and staff?
A: We believe we can serve more students with our existing staff. Because we use adjunct faculty to teach much of our curriculum we can respond to enrollment growth quickly as that becomes necessary.
1 Wilford Woodruff’s journal.
2 Dean L. May Professor of History at University of Utah. https://www.deseret.com/2010/7/26/20130131/in-utah-history-ensign-peak-has-a-lofty-prominence#people-enjoy-the-view-from-ensign-peak