Affordability Key to Higher Ed
By Amy K. Stewart Deseret News
CEDAR CITY — Lowering the cost to produce higher education is of utmost importance in today’s challenging world, said Brigham Young University-Idaho President Kim Clark.
Clark was the keynote speaker for joint meetings at Southern Utah University of multiple legislative interim committees and appropriations subcommittees. There were more than 100 attendees that included education representatives, lawmakers and other officials.
Clark has headed BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, since June 2005. The school is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which also owns the Deseret News.
Affordability, along with quality education and access for more students, are key to higher education, he said.
“To do all those things at once is very challenging, very difficult,” he said, noting that too few students attend college, often because of costs. “It’s plain to see, that across the country, higher education is not doing the kind of job it needs to do to serve the interests of the country.”
Some ideas to lower the costs of education that BYU-Idaho is trying include year-round school and online education. The school’s three-semester calendar includes fall, winter and summer as full semesters. There is a three-track admissions system in which students are admitted three times a year and attend two semesters in a row.
“We therefore operate all year long and that gives us the opportunity to serve many more students,” Clark said, adding it is good use of physical facilities.
BYU-Idaho has also extended its class time from 50 minutes to 60 minutes, a 20 percent increase.
After his speech, Clark talked about the potential effect of the current national economic downturn on enrollment.
“As far as we can tell, we haven’t seen any effect on enrollment,” he said. “But over time, if it continues, there could definitely be some effect.”
BYU-Idaho’s annual enrollment is approximately 21,000. Tuition per semester is $1,600.
In his speech Thursday, Clark detailed a learning model that focuses on peer interaction, including online communication. Part of it is three-fold, having students teach to learn, learn to teach and learn to learn.
Clark said he believes all people are born to learn. “Teachers in here know that. If you can just light that fire, it’s amazing what kids can do,” he said.
The president said the school is preparing for a new generation of young people who are extremely technologically proficient.
These students are the ones who can easily gather lots of information and pull it all together, he said.
“We need to get ready to harness that and have a process that really allows them the capacity to use their talents and skills,” Clark said.
Clark began his undergraduate education at Harvard University, where he completed his freshman year in 1968 prior to serving a two- year LDS Church mission in the South German Mission.
Before returning to Harvard, he studied for one year at Brigham Young University. It was there that he discovered his love for education and also the love of his life, Sue Lorraine Hunt. They were married in June of 1971 prior to returning to Harvard University, where he earned bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in economics.
In 1978 Clark joined the Harvard Business School faculty. At the time of his departure to become president of BYU-Idaho, he was serving as dean of the school and was the George F. Baker professor of administration.
Clark and his wife are the parents of seven children.
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