BYU-Pathway Worldwide is the largest and most ambitious development in more than a century for the educational system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a senior church official said Thursday at the the inauguration of the new president of BYU-PW.
Brian Ashton will not only be the second president of a program, he should be its chief moral and spiritual officer, said Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which officially installed Ashton.
In five years, BYU-PW has grown from four small U.S. sites to provide affordable higher education to more than 57,000 students who now meet in 188 countries and nearly every stake in the church. (A stake is a grouping of five to 12 congregations.)
Elder Holland called BYU-PW an instant hit.
“I consider the creation of BYU-Pathway Worldwide the largest and most ambitious expansion of the Church’s educational system since the establishment of seminaries and institutes of religion more than a century ago,” he said. -he declares.
Ashton earned a bachelor’s degree from BYU and an MBA from Harvard. He joined BYU-PW in 2018 after leading an educational startup focused on correctional education and life skills. He also served as second counselor in the church’s Sunday School general presidency from 2015 to 2019. He served as president of the Texas Houston South Mission, and he and his wife, Melinda, are parents to seven children. .
Elder Holland said Ashton is at the forefront of the church reaching out to members and other students who need the Pathway program. He called Ashton “our versatile specialist who enters the fray first, meets immediate needs where you can, and nurtures many of your students towards lifelong learning, a productive work life, participatory citizenship, and strong family life” .
BYU-PW combines two programs, PathwayConnect and online courses from BYU-Idaho and Ensign College. The suit is designed to train students who dropped out of college or didn’t think it was for them, and offer it to them at an affordable price.
Elder Holland is Chairman of the Executive Committee of the BYU-PW Board of Directors. He is also the former commissioner of education for the church and former president of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
“Your program is different and exciting in kind and degree from anything we have ever done, with all the marks of individuality and excitement that characterize an idea whose time has come,” he said. declared.
Church leaders named Ashton to succeed Elder Clark G. Gilbert as president of BYU-PW in May 2021. He took over on August 1, but his inauguration was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19. Elder Gilbert is now the church’s commissioner of education.
The Church’s education system now serves nearly one million students with more than 60,000 instructors and has a global footprint through BYU-Pathway Worldwide, Elder Holland said.
“While willingly acknowledging the educational, social and economic benefit this program will have for these students, it is this spiritual impact, the part that is not readily available at other universities or other programs, that will justify the support of the church and will justify your appointment this day,” Elder Holland said.
He said the board, made up of church leaders, is ready to support further growth.
“So, president, do well what you do,” he told Ashton. “Serve and strengthen the students you have, and legions will come to join you. When you have done your best for them, we will expand the operation to serve more nations, more cultures and more languages. The possibilities in the future are staggering, quite frankly.
PathwayConnect is a low-cost, one-year educational program that helps students build confidence, become self-reliant, and gain leadership experience through a blend of online college courses, religious education, and weekly face-to-face meetings. face to face with other students.
Students who complete PathwayConnect automatically qualify for BYU-Idaho’s online degree program. US students pay $77 per credit. Tuition slides based on national economy. Students from Zimbabwe, for example, pay $5 per credit.
BYU-PW offers guaranteed scholarships to those who begin their studies through the program.
“BYU-Pathway’s strategy is to serve those who have not traditionally had access to higher education—the hidden many—and to do so wherever The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized,” Ashton said. “Our goal is to make BYU-Pathway accessible and complete to anyone who wants to meet merit standards for admission, regardless of where they live or financial circumstances.”
Ashton listed a number of his goals:
- Raise awareness of Pathway in every church congregation.
- Make the BYU-PW operating model scalable to whatever size the church needs.
- Discover more innovative and inspired ways to reduce the cost of BYU-Pathway education without reducing quality or losing individual experiences.
- Offer more scholarships.
- Provide mentorship.
- Overcome technological barriers.
- Explore the possibility of making Pathway available to those who don’t speak English.
- Simplify the application and ecclesiastical approval processes, especially for international students and leaders.
- Shorten graduation time.
- Help students better prepare for employment.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first vice chairman of the board of trustees and first counselor in the First Presidency, presided over Thursday’s dedication. D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the dedication as a member of the board of trustees.
“God bless you and God bless BYU-Pathway as we go forward in the work of the Lord,” President Oaks said.
Other church leaders attended the dedication, including Relief Society general president Jean B. Bingham and Young Women general president Bonnie H. Cordon.
“Nowhere does the church’s educational system come together as a system more effectively and more deeply than through BYU-Pathway around the world,” Elder Gilbert said.
Ashton thanked the leaders of the other religious schools, all of whom attended the dedication — BYU President Kevin Worthen, BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring, BYU-Hawaii President John Kauwe, and President of the ‘Ensign College Bruce Kusch.
In 2021, BYU-PW had 57,459 students – 35,106 in PathwayConnect and 27,716 students seeking degrees online through BYU-Idaho and Ensign College.
BYU-PW is rolling out its programs in 10 new countries and territories this year: Bahrain, Burundi, Hong Kong, Macao, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Reunion, South Korea and Taiwan.
Last year, 64% of PathwayConnect students lived outside of the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, Americans and Canadians made up 64% of online graduate students.
The program filled a need in the United States. In Utah alone, BYU-PW had 9,350 students in 2022.
“President and Sister Ashton, on behalf of missionaries serving around the world, our faith and prayers are with you,” said Sister Sara McGill, a Pathway missionary volunteer who spoke at the dedication. Pathway missionaries serve as facilitators at weekly student gatherings.
“Jesus Christ is the Savior of the entire world, and BYU-Pathway is one of the ways He is uplifting souls around the world,” she added.
The median age of BYU-PW students is 31, and 57% are female.
Watch the grand opening here.