President Kusch: I wanted to take a couple of minutes at the outset of this meeting to see if anybody would like to share anything that they have done regarding community outreach and the policy that we put into place giving people permission to spend a few hours per month on this. If there's anybody who would like to share something that they did.
Jamy Reudter: President, I talked to the secretary at Welfare Square in the cannery, and they are really in need of some help. I let the cat out of the bag and let her know that we're asking our students and our faculty to devote some time to help. She mentioned that she would love to have that help.
President Kusch: Okay, that would certainly be a worthy place to serve. Thank you.
Cathy Carey: Some of you are aware that I had a little grandbaby born on December 27 and he has profound hearing loss in both ears. So, I talked to Tim and asked him if I could take an American sign language class with the deaf community so that I could learn how to communicate with him and with other people who have that disability. So, thank you, President, for that opportunity.
Jamy Reudter: I know many of the resources at the Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and am very familiar with them. I'm more than happy to help out with that.
Cathy Carey: I would love to talk to you offline Jamie. That would be incredible. They have deaf mentors that will teach us American sign language, and President, I want you to know that it's bigger than just my own grandson too. I want to become more involved in that community.
President Kusch: Thank you, Cathy. Jesus, I think, has a comment.
Jesus Garcia: I started to go to my kids' elementary school to volunteer for an hour a week by reading to the students that are struggling with reading.
President Kusch: That's awesome. I've only been once, but I went to a place in Murray called the Hope Clinic. That's a free clinic for people who don't have insurance, and it was a great experience, and I'll be going back soon. I'm not exactly sure when, but it's a great experience. I was helping with a little bit of translation and taking phone calls and they kind of just threw me right in and it was a great experience.
Thank you, everyone, for what you're doing. We've got some great questions to address this morning, and we will jump right in. I'm going to take a question at the very beginning that was a great and sincere question, as were all the questions, but it's a challenge that I know that we all experience, and it has to do with student wages. I will read the question.
Question: In the spirit of the Speed of Trust behavior of talking straight, which I know we're talking about this week, I’d like to propose the following question for understanding and clarity. At the end of December, and within 30 days - and I'm not going to mention the specific office, but this office lost four trained and knowledgeable student employees. I understand turnover, that it will be constant, however, when we're losing employees to the Church’s Global Service Center that is paying $16 an hour and we're paying $11.25, I'm sad. I can't deny them the opportunity to make more money, but when I see a $5 difference, the question keeps coming up in my mind as to why Ensign College could not be a little more competitive in what we offer as an hourly wage to students. Rather than just dismiss the concern, they work hard, they take on a lot of responsibility and I see them as a very valuable asset to the College. It would be nice to compensate them accordingly.
President Kusch: And I don't disagree. I don't want to in any way minimize the concern and the challenge that this is because it's the last thing that we want when we've got a student well trained, to have them say, “Well, I'm leaving for $5 an hour.” It's an understandable thing that probably any of us would do if we were in that same situation. So, why can't we match what the Global Service Center is paying is, I suppose is the first question. And then because we can't, what should we do, or how should we approach this?
All I can say is that the financial model and the funding for that organization is different than it is for us. We increased our student wages a couple of years ago. Is Brady with us this morning? Brady could tell us how much we increased student wages? We increased student wages a fair bit a couple years ago, as I recall, Brady is that the case?
Brady: You’re correct, President.
President Kusch: We did this to be more competitive, and it's certainly something that we will be sensitive to as we go into the next budget session, which is coming on us quicker than any of us would perhaps like. So, let me just suggest that the reality is that there's going to be a wage disparity between what we can pay and what the Church in the Global Service Center will pay. And this may not be a very satisfactory answer, but rather than lament the loss of the students, let's just look at it as an opportunity to hire more students and to give them some opportunities and some experience that they may not have had otherwise. we'll do what we can to try to increase our student wages, but this is just our reality. So, it's an opportunity when a student leaves, to hire another student and to give them some experience. It may be a student who very badly needs the work and hasn't been able to find it because we have more students who need jobs than I think we have jobs for students. So again, that may not be exactly the answer that would be the most satisfying, but I do think that it's an opportunity for us to employ more students and recognize that there will be turnover. So, if we know there's going to be turnover, it's also an opportunity for us to say, well, how do we train these students as quickly as we can, and as efficiently as we can, so that they're as productive as possible, as soon as possible. I think it's a training and a leadership opportunity for us. So, that's how I would respond to that question. And I do really appreciate the question.
Rob Bagley: President, can I comment on that a little bit? This is a challenge, and I face it too. I've got a lot of student employees and sometimes they leave right as they get really good. So, that is one of the things that we're trying to do is to improve our training so that we can get a new employee trained up quickly so that there's not as much of a loss. One of the things that we're doing in my department is that I've hired some students from the HR department, HR students to look over our training and onboarding to improve our training process. So, we're kind of using students to help solve our student turnover challenge.
President Kusch: Perfect Rob, that's a great approach. Let's allow those students to help us solve those problems.
Mark Richards: President, if I could just add this to Rob's comments, we've been blessed recently to have Gail Singley accept the responsibility where she's really responsible for training. And Gail does a marvelous job of helping coordinate and put together programs. So Gail, I don't mean to throw more on your plate than you can handle, but Gail's a great resource for that.
President Kusch: Thank you, Mark. Great suggestion.
Question: Maybe we can have a brief review on how Ensign College will be an integral contributor to the BYU-Pathway Worldwide effort? What will Ensign College be specifically doing and not doing in this regard? That's one question, and then there were a couple of related questions in terms of what specific online programs will be offered at Ensign College via BYU-Pathway and will Ensign College offer any online programs directly to students, without going through Pathway?
Alan, I'm going to turn the time to you to address those questions.
Alan Young: I love the questions. So, I want to take our minds back one year ago when the President mentioned the announcement of Ensign College, and there's actually one sentence in that announcement that we need to keep our focus on, and that says, "Serve a broader audience throughout the Church, by offering much of its unique job-ready curriculum online, primarily, facilitated through an agreement with BYU-Pathway worldwide." So, that was the designation by the Board, saying that the trajectory of events at the College is going to change. We're going to take programs that are very successful here on campus and we're going to make them available to many more students. Within our forecast, what we can see in the future within the next few years, is up to as many as 10,000 students that we can serve. These are students that we would not be able to serve otherwise, and if you look beyond, the need in the Church is much greater, you know, in the hundreds of thousands of students that need what we must provide.
So, that's one of the reasons that this exists, this relationship between Ensign College and BYU-Pathway is to take on some programs out to students throughout the world. Now I want to read a sentence that comes from the BYU-Pathway Worldwide founding document. This comes from a Board document from March of 2018.
"The purpose of BYU-Pathway is to address the distinctive needs of online students, to coordinate curriculum for online certificate and degree students across the Church Educational System and be the principal point of access for students seeking CES online degrees by creating and managing an online system for student services."
So, there's a lot that we can unpack and take a lot of time discussing, and some members of our school have been involved with that over the last year in understanding what that means and what that relationship with BYU-Pathway looks like in specifics. But if I were to paint a broad picture in answer to that question, it would be that Ensign College's academic experience is the key value add. The programs that we offer, our job first, our immersive learning experience, are what we're bringing to this table. So, anything that happens inside of a program or inside of a course is going to be unique to Ensign College. There are others we can effectively partner with to handle that and that's where BYU-Pathway comes in. So, BYU-Pathway will be doing for this worldwide audience, whereas Ensign College will focus on the academics and what happens inside of the programs.
There are some exceptions. For example, they can't do financial aid. They can't do Title IX and so we're working through some of those details, but that's up from a broad perspective. That's what's happening. I wrote down the other questions. So, from the program's perspective, today what we're starting right away are certificates and basic accounting, hospitality and tourism management, medical billing and coding fundamentals, project management, social media marketing and technical support engineer. So, those existing certificates that we have in the College are being made available to this worldwide audience. With last year's announcement we've also added the applied associate’s in communication, and the applied bachelor's in communication.
So, today that's the offering. In our conversations with BYU-Pathway, they've been very open to say that if you see other needs and if there are other markets that we can tap into, then bring those forward as recommendations. So, we'll be looking at those options in the future, potentially recommending others of our programs, or BYU-Pathway may come to us and say, “Hey, we see a need in the worldwide market. Is this an area where you may be able to provide a program that will serve the students?” So, that's where we are today. That's where we're starting. President, anything else you would like to add?
President Kusch: Will Ensign College offer any online programs directly to students, without going through BYU-Pathway? I think the answer is that we might. Is that a fair answer, Alan?
Alan Young: Yeah, and I guess if I could just jump into that perspective, I mentioned that we could go to BYU-Pathway and recommend options and they may come to us. In some cases, the answer might be, no, there's really not a market, that they see, but we may see another market that's local or in a particular area of the country that doesn't fit within the BYU-Pathway model. So, we would want to explore options there. But of course, we always do that within the guidance of the Board, and we just want to keep our eyes open to the market demand for the students.
President Kusch: A part of the approvals that we received from our accreditor was to be a distance education provider. And under Alan's direction, Andy and his team of instructional designers, working with our faculty, are working to develop all our curriculum for online delivery, which we expect to have ready by the Spring or Winter of 2023, about two years from now.
That will allow us to also broaden the audience of those that we are providing online education to, so it could be a student that comes for a semester to Ensign College and then for whatever reason, life circumstances takes them someplace else, and they could finish their degree online because they had already started with us on campus.
Or there could be some students that might come directly and two years from now, a lot of things could change just in terms of what the Board might allow us to do when it comes to how we would offer more online curriculum to members of the Church. So, we want to be prepared, though, we can't deliver it if we don't have it, so we want to be prepared with as much of our curriculum online as possible and Alan and Andy are working to accomplish that.
Okay, this next question I'm going to hand over to brother Hollingsworth. Which is:
Question: What is our definition of student success and how do we measure student success?
Guy Hollingsworth: Well, we all know what the mission of the College is - to build capable and trusted disciples of the Savior, but if you break that down a little bit to the next level, you can say to yourself that student success is defined by having students come here and helping them with a good academic experience while studying something that they enjoy and that they are good at, landing opportunities in the workforce that allow them to support their families in a way that allows them to serve the Church and the Kingdom here on earth. That would break it down, to me, one more time, but to come down one more level – a couple of things come to mind. We have, as an example, redefined some of our workgroups on campus and we have a workgroup called the Student Success Workgroup. Tim Sloan and I help oversee it and the chair of that group is Cody Branch, and some of the things that they are working on is helping us better define and help students have more of a real, successful experience while they're here.
One is to help them better prepare what we call a walk to employment. We have a workgroup that's called the Welcome to Ensign College Workgroup. That's more of a front-end recruiting kind of piece onboarding students, and then Cody's group takes over with retention and what goes on while the students are here, and prepare them ultimately for a solid internship and employment opportunities. That group is defining, assessing and evaluating student success better than we ever have before.
One thing that we're working on in the name of student success is to create and implement the ideal student experience with what we call mass customization. I compare this to, and some have heard me say this, my experience when I landed in Afghanistan for a 400-day combat tour. When I hit the ground, Afghanistan had 20 miles of blacktop and 17 miles of railroad in a country the size of California. And that was it. The rest of their transportation was on goat trails. I really felt like I had stepped back into the 17th century when I flew into Afghanistan that first time and every time I went back there during that year as I went in and out of the country.
I feel like we're a little bit that way, and it's not a hit against the good people that are here and have been here, but one thing we haven't done as good a job as we need to do is automation. We need to be more automated to be more responsive to our students. That's towards those who are thinking about coming and those that are here so that we help them with their course load and their advising, and as I said, with their internship. We help at-risk students and all of the pieces that make for a better experience in a more responsive group.
That takes automation in today's world. We've got to get away from being so manual. We've got to get away from the goat trails that we have too many of and we're doing that, in the name of students' success. This group is helping with the New Student Orientation to bolster that experience for our students. Melanie Conover and her team have been wonderful in helping us look at scholarships in a different way and in a more expanded way in the name of students, not just need-based, but some other kinds of ways to use the money to help students stay here and be successful, to the end. We want to look closer at our mental health situation for students, which is an elevated kind of thing at this point in today's world. We're looking at Mark's group. This workgroup is looking at inclusion and equity and belonging and well-being – all things that are important that we've done some of, but we need to do better things in that arena. All to help with student success. So, things are happening. We’ve got a ways to go, but we feel good about the direction that it’s taking.
President Kusch: Thank you, Guy. Great response. Thank you very much.
Question: I was in a meeting last week where one staff member shared that she hopes we don't lose the lessons we've learned from the pandemic and all the positives of the last year. Specifically, a better work-life balance, because of the option of working home, personal health, simplifying, focusing on what's important. What can we do as a college to ensure that these lessons are not lost when we return to normal? In the new normal, will employees, be given the option to continue to work at home if their job is conducive to working at home?
Brother Richards, I'm going to pass this hot potato to you.
Mark Richards: You know, when I think of normal, I think of the old movie Young Frankenstein where he took the brain from Abby Normal. I don't know that we know what normal is going to look like, but Cathy, this is a great question. I think we have learned a lot from our experience with COVID-19, and we continue to learn. We're so grateful for those of you on the COVID-19 Task Force: Brady, Cathy, Lori, Brandon, Kirk and David. You do a marvelous job of keeping up with what is happening around the state and keeping us posted on trends.
While we are learning a lot, we're learning that it's kind of like musical chairs. Every time we learn something, it seems like something else comes up. As you know, as a COVID-19 committee, we make plans and then those plans disintegrate with new information that. comes out. So, we don't have any specific plans moving forward that are concrete yet, but we're trying to capture as many ideas as we can from your experiences, and I think that having discussions in each one of our units around lessons learned and then capturing those and submitting those to the COVID-19 team, I think that would be a great suggestion, which is inspired by this question Cathy. I think capturing that as units and then submitting to your group, I think that would be helpful.
There are also some questions around working from home, and while we have found that in some cases, working from home has been very effective, in other situations it has been a challenge. So, we may make some recommendations as far as moving forward with working from home regularly for some. Many of us really benefit from being on campus and being in person. So, how's that for a non-answer to a question, Cathy? We're continuing to learn, as you know. The landscape of COVID-19 is changing completely. I have a lot of respect for COVID-19. I'm speaking to you, kind of like Lazarus, having been risen from the dead after literally being out for about six weeks with it, and I’m still in the recovery phase. So, I appreciate the question and appreciate everyone's work on the task force, and we appreciate the work of each one of you and your teams who have made the necessary adjustments to make it work. It's been a very difficult time – a difficult transition – and you have jumped in like troopers and really been a blessing to everything that we're trying to accomplish. So, Cathy, I don't know if that's helpful or not.
Cathy Carey: It's very helpful, Mark, and I was just fascinated by the comments in the COVID-19 Task Force about just making sure that we don't lose what we've learned, and I think it would be wonderful if we all have the opportunity in our units to share what we've learned about work-life balance, simplifying and about what's truly important – not only in our personal lives, but at the College, what's truly important. So, that was kind of the basis of my question, because I thought that it's a great food-for-thought comment on what the blessings of the pandemic have been and what have we learned that we don't want to lose when we go back to that new normal. Thank you, Mark.
Mark Richards: Thanks for the question.
President Kusch: Thank you, Mark and Cathy. One of the things that were a part of our thinking as we reorganized the committees and councils and workgroups was to focus us on what matters most, and that was really the intent of some of these adjustments that we made. I've been participating this week in a virtual conference with a small group of presidents of independent colleges and universities, and one of the things we talked about yesterday was responsiveness to COVID-19.
I think every institution, both educational and non-educational institutions, is grappling with the same questions: What have we learned and how do we change? Some of the institutions, for example, said that they are planning to permanently end their Fall semester at Thanksgiving. When they did that last year, it was so well received that they decided that that was just something they were going to continue doing. We haven't had that conversation yet, and I thought, maybe if we do that, and everybody votes that, and then we decide to go virtual after Thanksgiving, and then we decide not to do that after all, you're all going to be mad at us. So, we're not going to take a vote yet, but we'll talk about this some more and see where we feel that we ought to go as far as the Fall is concerned. We have not made any firm decisions for the Fall, but I would just tell you that for Fall, our hope, our sincere hope is, while it may not be pre-COVID-19 normal, that we can be on campus as much as possible. Our hope is that we can be face-to-face as much as we can with our instruction. I'm sure we'll still have to practice some social distancing and mask-wearing and sanitation and things like that, but we're hoping that with vaccines and with good practices, we can safely come back.
I'm going to sort of lump two questions into one here and respond to both of them.
Question: From my PEC perspective, what's one thing that all staff and faculty could do to help support the goals of the College, and is there anything that keeps me up at night?
President Kusch: And I think if there was just one thing that we could all do to support the goals of the College, it is that we are patient with one another. Last Sunday, my high council speaking topic was patience, and I had an opportunity to spend quite a bit of time studying patience. It was a very profound experience for me, and at the end of the day, what I learned was that patience is a spiritual gift. Some of us may say, "I'm not a patient person." Well, if there was a club of people who say I'm not a patient person, I would probably be the charter member of that club because I'm not a patient person by nature. But I do believe that the Lord can bless us with patience as we seek the gift of patience. Patience comes from faith. Patience comes from hope. Patience comes from charity, and if we practice those virtues on campus, which we have been, and continue to get better at it, I think that achieving the goals of the College, which are to bless the lives of students in remarkable ways, would be easily achieved. It would just be a natural result of the way that we work with each other and the way that we work with our students.
So, what keeps me up at night? Specifically, I am desirous, and I hope that my desires are sincere and appropriate, but I worry about not serving more students here on our campus in Salt Lake City. And it's not for any other reason than I believe that there are young people and non-traditional – maybe not so young people – that would really be blessed by an Ensign College experience. It's kind of like people who are searching for the gospel and they just don't know where to find it. I think wonderful things are happening here that would bless the lives of people dramatically if they just knew. So, if there was one thing that I know that concerns me the most is how do we help people understand more about Ensign College? We are doing more now than ever before. With the work that Maren and her team are doing, and the work that Kirk and his folks are doing, we know more. I think we have more effective marketing. We are preparing some things that you will see in the coming weeks that will be stunning in their quality and in the messaging. And that will make us all righteously proud to be part of this institution and for what it represents. I believe that our name change, and all the things that have been associated with it, have raised the stature of this institution in the eyes of many for the right reasons. One of the reasons that we wanted to change our name, along with the other changes, was so that we could reintroduce Ensign College to the Church. And we're doing that, but it takes time, and it takes a little bit of patience.
I'm preparing a presentation on strategic priorities that I will present to the Executive Committee in March and to the full Board in April. The first slide that I have in the presentation talks about the fact that the big, and I think I've talked about this before, but just to reiterate, the big strategic questions about our future as an institution were answered a year ago. We don't have to worry about whether or not we're going to have a name change, we don't have to worry about whether or not we're going to have bachelor's degrees and we don't have to worry about what we're going to do with online classes.
Those big strategic questions have been answered. So, now going forward, 2020 was a culminating year. It was a year of these things coming together in a preparatory year, and 2021 and forward are our implementation and execution years. It will be a multi-year effort. It's not as simple as building it, changing it, and they will come. It will take time and it will be several years as we see this developing. As people come, and as we begin to have these first graduates with bachelor's degrees, and they go out and they get employed, employers will say, "I want more. Where do those people come from? I want more of what Ensign College is delivering." And our reputation will continue to improve and grow and enhance. But it won't be as fast as perhaps what we might like, but I also want to say that we're seeing some very positive signs. If we judge only by the number of applications that came this year compared to last year – we get a report from Maren weekly – we're getting more than twice at this point this year with applications of new students than last year.
Kirk has given us some information on the number of searches on the name Ensign College. They are 10 times more than they ever were with the name of LDS Business College. So, we're getting visibility, people are learning about us, and that will convert into more students coming to Salt Lake City. It will. I'm just convinced of that.
Mark Richards: President, can I just take 20 seconds and add some feedback here. I had the opportunity of meeting with a young man on Tuesday. He came up to my office on the 10th floor to meet with me. He was attending BYU-Idaho, BYU, and he's graduating from dental school at the U in just a couple of months. He said, none of those experiences came close to the experience he had at LDSBC at the time and absolutely loved it here and was so grateful for that experience. So, kudos to all of you.
President Kusch: Thank you, Mark. That's a great tribute to the work that everyone is doing.
Question: There was a question about balance in life and any advice that I might have for finding balance in life.
Many years ago during one of my classes at BYU-Idaho, Elder Bednar came while he was the president. A student asked him the balance question, and I don't know how many have had the opportunity to be in a question-and-answer session with Elder Bednar, but he can be very direct at times, and I think if he was answering that question today, he would be just as direct now as he was then, and he basically said, "Forget about it." You're not going to achieve balance in life if balance means an equal amount of time spent on work and church and family and those things that we divide our lives up against. There are times when we have to focus intently on one thing and some of those other things have a lesser priority. He likened it to the Chinese acrobats that balance plates on the stick. Jesus has probably seen that or heard Elder Bednar give that description, but you know you get one going and then you get another going, and you know one starts to maybe fall off or becomes close to falling off, so you have to pay attention to that one and then go back to the other one.
I was discussing that yesterday in the career fair in the time that I spent answering some questions with students, and I think that one of the important things, in terms of figuring out balance, is making sure that we're listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and that the Holy Ghost will nudge us in the directions that we need to go. I think that's absolutely vital. Here's the other thing, and this is my definition of balance: If ever in our lives, something becomes more important to us than keeping our covenants, then our life is out of balance and we need to speedily repent and change that thing that is taking time away from keeping our covenants. Now, keeping our covenants is more often a matter of the heart than it is of time. Because we may not be able to give the time to where we would sometimes like to give it, but that's my own personal definition of balance. It is about keeping our covenants first and foremost in our minds.
Question: There's a question about being clear on the mission of the College. How would I describe the vision of the College?
These are two different things, and certainly, there are mission statements and vision statements that organizations put together. We do not have a vision statement, but we have a mission statement of creating and developing capable and trusted disciples of Christ. And I suppose if there was a vision, I wouldn't necessarily call it a vision statement, but if I had a vision for how we would do that it would be that we would all be equally yoked, with hearts knit together in unity and love trying to achieve the mission. That would be what I would hope for the institution, and that goes back to my comments about patience. I don't expect us, nor would I want us to all think alike, but if we're like-minded and we have that purpose in mind, we will continue to accomplish remarkable things.
Question: If I were speaking to a prospective student, how would you describe how Ensign College is unique from the other schools within the CES family and schools?
President Kusch: That's a good question.
I might just open it up for a minute and ask you, how do you think Ensign College is unique from other schools in the CES system?
Paul Eden: One thing, at least, is that we are geared towards getting people employable faster and letting them get to work and accomplish their employment goals faster than other institutions.
President Kusch: Okay, that's a great observation.
Gisselle Castro: When I speak to prospective students, I always tell them, "Hey, you can come and get your associate degree here with a certificate and graduate with both of them." That instantly grabs their attention. So, I think that's something really unique that Ensign College does, allowing you to get certification and a 100% transferable degree.
President Kusch: Great, thanks Gisselle.
Sister Skiba: Having gone to three major universities, it's much more immersive in Ensign College instead of the standard, deliberate big lecture hall that I’ve been at.
President Kusch: Great, thanks, Sister Skiba.
Gail Singley: I think from a student's perspective, they feel more known on our campus. They aren't one in the class of 300. I think they feel like their instructors and the support people around them know them individually.
President Kusch: Great, thanks, Gail.
David Brooksby: I'm a product of a lot of things, but one of them is an alumnus of this institution. Two things that meant so much to me about this place as a student was its ability to take discovered knowledge and look at it through the lens of the gospel and do it well. I think the other is when President Eyring told this institution that we don't exist to provide people with a certificate or degree, but to endow them with power, I am living proof that that happens here. What I got here is just so much more than a piece of paper with my name on it that I could hang on the wall.
President Kusch: Thank you, David. When you hear students say, I came to Ensign College and I learned that I could do more than I ever thought possible, I think that's a fulfillment of what President Eyring said in helping students really understand the divine within them and the potential that they have. Thank you, David. Any other thoughts, brothers and sisters?
Jake Smith: Yeah, I would say, because of our mission focus and because of the individualized focus on preparing them for the world. We have an individual focus, and I think that is an amazing thing that we have a focus on an individual. And then it builds from that, just as you said, President. We focus on an individual and we're allowing them to see who they really are. They see their potential, they see what they can do, what they can become, and I think if you can understand that in this world, that's one of the greatest things we can understand in this mortality.
President Kusch: Jake, thank you very much. Well said.
Eddy Yujra: President, I would say most of what my students love is the classes. Now, there are no more than 30 in a class, and some of the classes are only 20 students. So, we can answer any questions that they have in class or outside of class, and about 80% of the adjunct faculty are specialists in their fields. They're not only teachers but teachers who have good experience with what they talk about.
President Kusch: Yeah, thank you. Spencer DeGraw, you've been around this place a long time, tell us what you think is unique.
Spencer DeGraw: Just thinking, one of the things I like is that each organization has its own culture. I mean, a family can have a culture. A ward can have a culture, and a school can have a culture. And I think that there is a culture here that is very close, and I think it is because of our physical size and the smaller classes. It is easier, I think, for our students to feel a part of a class. It has already been mentioned that in some of the bigger schools you're one in 300 in a classroom and mostly it's just a lecture. But the culture here is unique in the sense that it's much easier to feel a part of the group, and as someone mentioned earlier, the immersiveness of the courses, because we've made such an effort to use this immersive learning model. So, it is a religious lecture that also affects the culture. I know in the technology degrees, the culture that we're trying to really push there is just this idea of being able to solve problems. We will just throw them into a problem and just expect them to solve it and the first semester they're a little nervous, but eventually, they start getting that self-confidence and it's really fun to see the kids get that - to see the students really develop that self-confidence. And then once they realize they can do it, again that affects the culture because then they're in this mindset of not, "Oh dear, what problem is there," but rather, "There's a problem and let's see how quickly I can solve it." And it just kind of changes the whole way they look at things. So, I guess, to sum it up, it's just this whole cultural impact that we have here.
President Kusch: Great. Thank you, Spencer.
I see Tim's with us. Tim, there's a question that I'm going to toss to you, and then we'll have that be the last question.
Question: I really appreciate the survey that was sent asking people for feedback on the various programs at the school. Are the results of the survey something that will be shared with faculty? I would love to be able to have that data to use to improve my program.
Tim, some things were sent out about innovation and ideas and things in general that you've been working with, so could you just comment on that for two or three minutes?
Tim Sloan: Yeah, you bet.
At the direction of President Kusch from last summer, we created an innovations team where we solicit and welcome new ideas for programs, courses or certificates. So, the team was organized last Fall and we set up a link on our website. You just head to the Quick Links where anybody can submit an idea. When we launched this site where you can express your thoughts for new programs, we did it in January, and they keep coming in. So, every time we look in the repository, more ideas are coming in and we review them, we assess them and we put them through an initial vetting process. I think today we've got 69 ideas, and there's still some more analysis and research to be done on these ideas. But in the next week, we should be sending our first wave of responses to those submitters to let them know what the status is on their idea. In some cases, we're going to start working on some of these ideas, and we feel like they're pretty reasonable to pursue.
We look at risk, of course, when we look at ideas and then the other category is that the ideas are good, but we want to put it in a parking lot for now, and we'll come back to them. And then the third category is, probably not a fit for the school. So, for all of you and anyone outside of the school that has submitted ideas, you will be getting an email back thanking you for your thoughts, and depending on the work that we're doing on the idea, we may solicit your further involvement in providing more information. So, this has been quite enjoyable for all of us on the team and the ideas have all been, for the most part, very good. We've been very impressed, so we're excited. We want to be innovative at the school and we want to build upon what's already good, so thank you Heidi for asking that question.
President Kusch: Thank you, Tim.
I want to make just one brief comment. There was one question that was submitted. It was a question about The Summit Grill and things that are being served there, and a related question about some doctrine associated with health standards in the Church.
I don't know if the person who asked the question is on the call or in the meeting, but we won’t be addressing that question specifically here. However, what I would just suggest is, and it's certainly a valid question, I would encourage this individual to address it with their bishop. I think that would be the most appropriate place to address their questions and concerns. I think we'll just leave that there.
Brothers and sisters, thank you for participating this morning. I really love these gatherings. I love the opportunity to look into your faces as much as I can, so thank you. Thank you for the questions, thank you for the thought and thank you for your work. This is the Lord's work and it's a great blessing to be associated with you as we seek to bless the lives of these students who come to the College, and as we're preparing really to bless many more lives of the members of the Church around the world that will never come. So, thank you very much.