The LDS Church is creating a new global higher-education program and expanding it to its system of private universities, with current BYU-Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert leaving his post to assume a new commissioner role to oversee it.
The news conference was held in the Church Office Building and involved President Uchtdorf; Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy, who is serving as the Church Commissioner of Education.
The new online education organization will be called BYU Pathway Worldwide. It will have responsibility for all online diplomas and certificates. An estimated 37,000 students are currently enrolled, with that number expected to increase greatly, President Uchtdorf said.
The program will continue to be organized and conducted in LDS institutes and meetinghouses, providing an environment of faith based in the gospel of Jesus Christ, President Uchtdorf said.
Pathway has been able to grow because of the youth and the resources of the church worldwide, he said, calling the Pathway program “a hidden treasure in the Church now is the right time” for increased, worldwide expansion.
Gilbert left a Harvard Business School position in 2006 to help create the basis of the Pathway program at BYU-Idaho, later becoming an associate academic vice president overseeing online teaching and Pathway. “He’s kind of the father of the Pathway program,” President Uchtdorf said.
The day started with a morning news conference at LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, as BYU-Idaho’s signature Pathway online learning program received a new name underscoring a greater global reach.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented both the BYU Pathway Worldwide and the church’s new commissioner of higher education to oversee the expansion, current BYU-Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert.
Gilbert’s new role meant announcing a new BYU-Idaho president at an afternoon devotional in Rexburg, as Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles introduced Henry J. Eyring as the 17th president of the higher education institution that also has been known previously as Ricks College and Ricks Academy during its nearly 130-year history.
Eyring, 53, currently BYU-Idaho’s academic vice president, will assume his new role April 10, following the conclusion of the current semester. He came to BYU-Idaho in 2006, first as an associate academic vice president over online learning and later as advancement vice president.
“He is ideally suited to be the leader of this great institution, and I urge you to listen to his counsel, benefit from his direction, and give him your wholehearted support as you go forward to new heights of service in the work of the Lord,” said Elder Oaks, who is chairman of the Executive Committee of the Church Board of Education.
During his pre-teen years, Eyring became familiar with the city and the college campus, since his family resided in Rexburg while his father — President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the church’s First Presidency — served as Ricks College president from 1971 to 1977.