Benjamin Cluff, Jr. Annual Lecture and Awards Show

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Most every student has been impacted by a teacher or professor.

To commemorate excellent teachers, the David O. McKay School of Education sponsored the Benjamin Cluff Jr. Lecture and Awards on Thursday in the Hinckley Alumni Center. Clayton M. Christensen, an author and professor at Harvard Business College, spoke on disruption in education.

“Essentially what’s happening outside of BYU [all BYU campuses] is the government has created a floor for tuition,” he said. “Universities never have competed in price, but instead compete on performance.”

Christensen said schools often try to add newer and bigger buildings than competing schools.

“As we keep adding more and more programs, we jack up the price,” he said.

To make up for higher costs, students are required to depend on grants and student loans to pay for their expenses.

“There are student loans outstanding of $1 trillion that will never be paid off,” Christensen said. He said he believes the student loan system could collapse in 10-15 years, causing universities that participate in these program competitions to close.

Christensen said online education could take the place of formal education since it is more cost effective. Instead of needing to build an entire curriculum from scratch, school administrators only need to find the best teacher for a given subject and then film the teacher’s lecture.

“You notice the barriers are much easier,” he said.

Christensen did acknowledge the non-academic needs students have fulfilled while at the university. He said students attend universities because they want to grow up as individuals in addition to growing intellectually.

Because of the need for students to grow emotionally, Christensen said he does not think higher education will ever fully switch to online.

“So many of the faculty here are here because they want to change the lives of students’ interdependence that online learning can’t match,” he said.

As faculty and students develop relationships and the number of people getting an education online increases, Christensen said he believes a hybrid of the two needs will be created for K-12 schools.

After Christensen’s comments, Bill Wilson, grandson of Benjamin Cluff Jr., addressed the audience. He reminisced about his grandfather and included memories about his grandfather living and serving in Hawaii.

The final part of the Benjamin Cluff Jr. Annual Lecture included an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding teachers from BYU and surrounding school districts. BYU faculty members who were recognized included Marta Jean Adair and Tina Taylor Dyches, both from the McKay School of Education. David Nielson, a teacher from the Alpine School District, also received an award. Finally, Steven Baugh, also from the Alpine School District, received an award added this year for lifetime excellence in education.

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