It was Mark Ogletree’s ultimate goal and dream in life that brought him to BYU’s campus to become a well-known religious education professor.
Ogletree spends his time at BYU teaching living prophets and LDS marriage and family classes. Being a father of eight children, seven girls and one boy, he has gained personal experience that allows him to connect with students in the classroom. But being a father is not the only thing that has given him experience for his career as a professor. Ogletree has only been teaching at BYU since last year, but his road to BYU has given him the knowledge and skills he needs to teach these subjects.
“I view myself as the fifth string quarterback that has finally gotten a chance to get in the game,” Ogletree said.
Ogletree and his wife, Janie, raised their family in Dallas, while Ogletree was working for the Church Educational System. He worked for CES for 20 years before retiring and starting a private practice as a marriage and family counselor. But these different careers did not fulfill his real career goal: becoming a professor at BYU.
“I have always wanted to teach at BYU,” Ogletree said. “The last 10 years our family lived in Dallas I was talking to BYU about coming up here.”
BYU had offered Ogletree a position in teaching several times before he accepted the job. Becoming a bishop and his son’s high school football career prevented the Ogletree family from moving. When the final offer came, the Ogletree family made the move to Utah.
“We felt like that was what the Lord wanted us to do,” said Janie, Ogletree’s wife. “So we packed up and came up to Utah, and everything fell into place.”
The move was a big risk for the family. BYU did not have any full-time positions available, and Ogletree started as a visiting professor. Last year he was hired on full time, and students have loved his classes.
“I love what I do and what I get to teach,” Ogletree said. “I hope that is what comes out in my classes more than anything else.”
The professor has five children in college, and Ogletree said he feels he is able to relate to college students easily.
“Brother Ogletree came to BYU having taught the gospel full time for many years,” said Mike Goodman, a fellow LDS marriage and family professor and Ogletree’s mentor. “He has a great love of the Lord and for his students. I think his students can feel the passion he feels for what he teaches as well as his desire to bless their lives.”
His son, Brandon, starts as a BYU football linebacker. Before Mark Ogletree moved to Utah, he would drive more than 20 hours to attend games. Now, living so close, he can walk to the games.
“He has bled blue from the day he was an undergraduate student,” said Janie Ogletree. “He has a passion for it.”
Ogletree attended several other universities while earning a master’s and doctorate. He said BYU is different than any other university because of the Spirit, growth and learning that happens at BYU.
“All I really wanted to do, ever, is teach at BYU,” Ogletree said.