Visitors see changes on BYU campus



    Campus has undergone some major changes in the last few decades. The changes have not been subtle or easy to avoid.

    Changes on campus have occurred in physical appearance, technological advancement, academic opportunity and university philosophy, said Jim Backman, former law professor and current director of the Service and Learning Center on BYU campus. Backman has been at BYU for 25 years.

    Students, faculty, alumni and visitors to campus have much to share about their memories of BYU campus as it has gone through a continuous line of change.

    Backman came to BYU as a law professor in 1974.

    Since he has been here, the building of the law school in 1976 has been the greatest physical change on campus, Backman said.

    For most students and alumni of recent years, however, the renovation of the Harold B. Lee Library and the Wilkinson Student Center have been the greatest change they’ve witnessed.

    “The expansion of facilities and the beautification of campus is great but the day they expand the HFAC, I’ll cheer,” said Lisa Glade of Taylorsville, a recent graduate in organ performance.

    The expansion of campus is exciting to most students, but it has also provided an inconvenience.

    “I think it will be great for students in 2003, but it has been the biggest pain for us,” said Andrea Harker, from Regina, Saskatchewan.

    BYU has been hosting conferences and camps for years. Those who have attended these events faithfully, have noticed the change and have enjoyed seeing the improvements, while enduring the pain of dealing with them.

    Beth Walton of Federal Way, Wash., has attended Education Week for 12 years. She has noticed the significant changes campus has gone through.

    “I am especially pleased with the new Cougareat. You get faster food service and you can get a different variety,” she said.

    “Every year they are doing some new renovation. It’s definitely prettier. The buildings blend in well to the campus,” said Carol Torbensen, from Kaysville, an annual participant at the Church Music conference.

    They, like the students, also recognize the inconvenience, however.

    “The hole was beginning to be filled last year when I was here,” said Walton. “The inconvenience was horrendous! I thought, ‘Why do they have to do it all at once?'”

    The most significant change Backman claims to have seen in his 25 years here has been in academic learning.

    “Opportunities for students to be involved in off-campus experience has grown significantly,” he said.

    Many more students are participating in internships, Backman said.

    “Recent studies show that one in three students are involved in internships,” he said. “Education is trying to apply itself into the community.”

    Also, many more international programs are available to students through study abroad programs and traveling performance groups.

    Those looking back on the past and now observing the future see these opportunities as blessings to students at BYU.

    “I hope the students appreciate what they have here, said Christine Lindsey, a Church Music conference participant from Henderson, Nev. “The opportunities here are outstanding.”

    Opportunities have been heightened by the technological changes occurring throughout the last decade.

    Backman said he remembers when they first put computers in the law school offices in 1984.

    “BYU has always been on the edge of technology,” he said.

    Students agree that the rapid advances in technological development have made student life easier, but are also hard to adjust to.

    “We have easier access to information and professors can have their syllabus on-line,” said Chris Bryant, a senior from Leesburg, Va., majoring in mechanical engineering. “But, the disadvantage is that students are required to access computers for almost everything,” he said.

    BYU’s cutting edge approach to technology is a reflection of the university presidents’ vision, Backman said.

    “All the BYU presidents since I’ve been here have been positive, inclusive, and progressive,” he said.

    President Bateman’s charge to take our campus to the world has been refreshing and invigorating, Backman said.

    “He’s a president with an authoritative voice and clear vision who is willing to share the vision with us. We are now looking to do even more through the strength of this university,” Backman said.

    With this vision and the strength that has come through the many changes that have occurred at BYU, the university will be able to do even more in the BYU community and worldwide, Backman said.

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