BYU national scholarships office shut down, taken over by Honors Program

Jillian Argento
Fred Pinnegar of BYU’s National Scholarships, Fellowships, and Programs office says he has enjoyed working with students to help them obtain scholarships. The office is being closed on Nov. 3. (Jillian Argento)

BYU’s National Scholarships, Fellowships, and Programs office is being closed effective Nov. 3. The Honors Advisement Center will assume the responsibilities of the office with the goal of expanding the program’s reach.

All students will still be able to apply for top scholarships and receive the university endorsement that is traditionally required for such applications. Students do not have to be involved in the Honors program to receive assistance despite the program’s shift to Honors Advisement.

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Spencer Magleby said the efforts of the scholarship office will now be distributed in Undergraduate Education and throughout campus.

“(The office’s closure) is a movement of resources,” Magleby said. “There are limited slots and resources. We’re maneuvering around on that.”

Students will be directed to work with trained professionals in Honors Advisement as well as professors and faculty members who are past recipients of top scholarships. Undergraduate Education is currently training advisers to aid students in the scholarship process.

Honors Advisement will continue to publicize scholarship and fellowship opportunities in addition to study abroad programs.

Current office manager Fred Pinnegar along with his three student employees were let go with the closure of the office. According to Pinnegar, they were not given any notice of the office being shut down prior to his formal meeting with Undergraduate Education Dean Susan Rugh on Oct. 20.

Pinnegar has been with BYU since 1992 and has directed the National Scholarships, Fellowships, and Programs office for the last three years.

“I dove in and created a really dynamic office here,” Pinnegar said. “It’s been fun. I really enjoy having students in front of me, talking to them.”

Pinnegar managed a database of 869 students with an interest in applying for scholarship opportunities, about 200 of whom have signed up over the course of fall semester. He had collected more than 3,000 scholarship opportunities to help students narrow down which opportunities they best qualify for.

However, the scale of scholarships and fellowships assistance made available to students going forward will be downsized, according to Magleby.

“The breadth of scholarships that we deal with will likely be reduced,” Magleby said. “There’s a whole hierarchy of scholarships. There are hundreds and hundreds of these things. The students and the institution will really benefit from some more focused advising.”

Pinnegar said the closure of the office “had nothing to do with (his) performance or the performance of the office,” but was a full-time equivalent reassignment. Full-time equivalent assignments are positions that can be transferred within the university. Magleby said he is not at liberty to comment on personnel issues, but the full-time equivalent slot is being repurposed. 

Pinnegar’s student employees have been offered temporary positions with Undergraduate Education through the end of fall semester. Student employee Tanner Nelson did advertising and outreach for the National Scholarships, Fellowships, and Programs office.

“What our office did up until Friday was we helped BYU students get prestigious, highly-rigorous merit-based world class scholarships,” Nelson said. “We handled any BYU student that wanted to be a Fulbright scholar, a Rhodes scholar, a Marshall, a Mitchell. You name it. Any big scholarship and we handled it.”

Jillian Argento
Pinnegar and his student employees have been packing up the office since they received word of the office’s closure on Oct. 20. (Jillian Argento)

Pinnegar has been in contact with Utah Valley University and expressed interest in starting a national scholarship office there as it does not have one of its own. University of Utah is the closest institution to BYU that has a National Scholarships, Fellowships, and Programs office. Pinnegar is also considering heading into retirement two years ahead of his originally designated time.

As the National Scholarships, Fellowships, and Programs office formally closes Nov. 3, Magleby said there is a need for some “readjustment time” for preparation of the Honors Advisement Center. Undergraduate Education is aiming to have the center ready by the start of the Winter 2018 semester to begin assisting students in the scholarship process once again.

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