The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday morning the creation of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, a global higher education program. The announcement was made by Second Counselor in the First Presidency President Dieter F. Uchtdorf at a press conference held at Temple Square.
A few hours later, the church named Henry J. Eyring, current academic vice president at BYU-Idaho, as the school’s new president. Eyring – who will be the 17th president of BYU-Idaho – is also the son of President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency.
Eyring will be following in his father’s footsteps, as President Henry B. Eyring was the president of Rick’s college before it became BYU-Idaho. Eyring is currently the BYU-Idaho academic vice president – a position he took in July 2015.
Eyring will replace current school president Clark G. Gilbert, who will oversee the Pathway program. Clark will officially become president April 10 with the program fully operational May 1.
“The groundwork has been laid by Pathway,” Gilbert said in the press conference, referring to the education program BYU-Pathway Worldwide is replacing.
This program will handle all online certificate and degree programs offered by the Church Educational System (CES) and will begin operation on May 1, 2017.
Currently, there are 497 active pathway locations and 37,000 students worldwide. It will continue to periodically add new sites, as well as new certificates and degree programs.
“Now we are bringing more structure and program content,” Gilbert said. “Education of the kind we’re offering has not only wonderful personal benefits for individuals, but also strengthens families and the church.”
Gilbert said the original Pathway program grew much more quickly than expected.
“This is just us in place and being ready to serve those people that come. We just know it is going to grow,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said the program is piloting the idea of making BYU-Pathway worldwide available to non-members, but that the Honor Code will eventually be required of every participant.
“The program will continue to be open without an endorsement the first year; however, students are asked to try to live the standards,” Gilbert said. “The Honor Code is a CES honor code.”
Gilbert also said the Church Education System is familiar with enrollment caps for its different schools, but that BYU-Pathway Worldwide will be more similar to institute and seminary in enrollment.
“BYU-Pathway Worldwide is different,” Gilbert said. “So far it does not have an enrollment cap. This program is designed to scale so it can serve the church wherever it is in the world.”
President Uchtdorf said the Church feels this is the right time to focus on Pathway expansion.
“Pathway was created to make college educational opportunities available to those who otherwise would not have them. Pathway is a bridge into the world of online education and a pathway to opportunities for a successful livelihood. The program combines online learning with religious education in local institutes or meeting houses in an environment of faith grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” President Uchtdorf said in a press release.