By Tyson Snow
Enrollment is around 500,000, and the number of classes taught is comparable to a full time university, but the Division of Continuing Education is only a department at BYU.
The division is busy handling “the biggest university continuing education program in the nation,” said Duane Hiatt, director of editorial and media productions. “Virtually no other campus out there gets used as much as BYU.”
With so much going on, the division focuses on a simple goal to help keep things moving in the right direction.
“Our commitment is to help fulfill the mission of the university,” said Richard Eddy, Dean of the Division of Continuing Education.
“We’re trying to extend the opportunities on campus to people who don’t have the ability to come to campus,” said Hiatt. “It is a good chance to help those members of the church whose tithing money supports the university.”
Especially For Youth, Independent Study, Evening Classes, Know Your Religion and Travel Study are just some of the programs under the direction of Continuing Education, Hiatt said. The biggest single program, with participation reaching about 30,000, is Education Week.
“Education Week takes a total commitment from everyone involved,” Hiatt said. “Faculty, food service, parking control, and everyone else associated with the university is important in achieving a successful week.”
“We love Education Week. We plan our vacation around it every year,” said annual attendee Carla Stevens of St. George.
EFY is another popular event coordinated by Continuing Education. It takes place on college campuses across the country, but is still hard to be accepted to.
“One of the biggest challenges is to find equitable ways for people to sign up for EFY,” Hiatt said.
Alumni and others have been known to try bribing people in the division, Hiatt said. “People try all kinds of things to get their kids in, but of course, we don’t let that influence the signup process.”
The program continues to be extremely popular with the youth attending.
“I love it. It is such a fun and spiritual place to come during the summer,” said James Clarke of Boise, Idaho. “I would come every year if I could.”
Enrollment in programs sponsored by Continuing Education has increased by 200,000 over the last 20 years. This increase in participation is expected to continue.
“Online independent study and satellite broadcasts are two areas in which we expect to see a lot of growth,” Hiatt said.
This year, 16 hours of Education Week classes will be broadcast live or nearly live to millions of people in North America, Central and South America, and areas of Europe.
“The church is growing and the needs of members are increasing,” said Hiatt. “We want very much to reach out as quickly and rapidly as we can.”