What will it mean to have another baccalaureate university added to the Church Educational System? Which bachelor’s degrees will be offered when Ricks College becomes Brigham Young University—Idaho? Will two-year programs still be offered? What other changes will take place?
Questions such as these surfaced after President Gordon B. Hinckley announced last June that Ricks College would become a baccalaureate university and be renamed BYU—Idaho.
Ricks College president David A. Bednar recently answered some of these questions when he announced a proposed list of baccalaureate and associate degrees to be offered at the school.
Beginning fall semester 2001, students will be able to take upper-division courses (at the junior-year level) toward bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business management, elementary education, English, history, interior design, nursing, and recreation education, President Bednar said. Additional bachelor’s degrees will be added beginning in 2002 (see below).
BYU—Idaho will offer both integrated and specialized bachelor’s degrees. Integrated degrees will require a maximum of 45 hours in the primary area of study, while specialized degrees will require a maximum of 70 hours. Integrated degrees will allow students to obtain a more broad-based education.
The associate degrees offered by BYU—Idaho will include agricultural systems, architectural technology, automotive technology, beef production, computer systems technology, criminal justice, culinary arts, electronic engineering technology, engineering technology, floral design, landscape horticulture, nursing, paramedicine, photography, preschool education, and welding technology.
President Bednar stressed that this proposed list of degrees may be adjusted, depending on a comprehensive accreditation evaluation of the school’s transition plan this spring by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC). The list may also be refined as school officials see more ways to meet students’ needs.
Twenty-five new faculty members will be hired by this fall, mainly to teach classes in the new programs.
If the NASC approves the transition plan, Ricks College will receive “candidacy status,” a classification that will allow the school to begin using the name BYU—Idaho and proceed with implementing the plan. The board of trustees, composed of the First Presidency and other Church leaders, chose that name in order to give the school the international recognition associated with BYU.
Until that name change, the transition for students at Ricks continues: those who plan to transfer to other schools will be able to complete their associate degrees; year-round schooling is already under way to accommodate more students; and those who want to pursue the newly offered baccalaureate programs will be able to go on without transferring. Michelle Hammond, a sophomore accounting major from Rigby, Idaho, says, “They’re really well organized. They have the list of all the classes we’ll need to take [for a four-year degree]. Junior-level courses will be offered in the fall, so we can just continue.”
The changes announced last June included phasing out the school’s intercollegiate athletic program. But the change doesn’t mean an end to sports on campus, President Bednar explained.
Every student on campus will have the opportunity to participate in numerous sports and other activity programs. “Instead of a school where you buy a ticket and are merely a spectator,” explained President Bednar, “you’ll be attending a school where, if you choose, you can be on the baseball field, the basketball court, or the stage participating.”
When the change in the sports program was announced, Trisha Roberts, an elementary education major from Weiser, Idaho, felt disappointed. But after learning about the new plan for student activities, she says, “I don’t think we’ll lose the school spirit. I think the change will be good.”
To make the transition as smooth as possible, President Bednar encourages students and parents to do their homework and to become aware of the progress at Ricks. Staff members at the school are ready to answer questions, and current information is available at www.ricks.edu.
“We will be as forthcoming and helpful in responding to requests for their information as we can possibly be,” President Bednar says. Though many changes may occur, “we are essentially unchanged in terms of who we are as an institution, what we are about, and the mission we will pursue.”
The goal, he says, is to maintain a wholesome academic environment where students may further their educational and employment opportunities as they build their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Proposed Four-Year Degrees
Integrated degrees in accounting, English, history, and recreation education; specialized degrees in business management, elementary education, interior design, and nursing
Secondary education programs for biology, English, foreign language, history, math, music, physical science, social studies, and theater
Integrated degrees in agronomy, animal science, art, communications, landscape horticulture, and information systems; specialized degrees in biology, computer engineering, computer science, construction management, graphic arts, and mechanical engineering
2004 and 2005
Integrated degrees in chemistry, economics, family science, geology, health science, home and family living, physics, psychology, sociology, and technology management; specialized degrees in early childhood/special education and social work