Monday, June 14, 2010

Scroll: Expansion promotes student gathering

Note: Every week I have an article published in the Scroll, a newspaper on the BYU-Idaho campus. The following is one of those articles.

In the 10 years since the announcement that Ricks College would become a four-year university, many changes have been made to the physical appearance of the campus. The campus has grown to accommodate the increasing number of students.

When the announcement was made, plans were put into place to help accommodate the projected growth of the university. Over 30 renovation or construction projects have been completed on campus to help fulfill those plans.

“When you look at it 10 years ago, we had a total enrollment of six to eight thousand; now we are approaching 15 thousand,” said Charles Andersen, BYU-Idaho university resources vice-president.

The most notable changes have been the addition of the Thomas E. Ricks Building and the Gordon B. Hinckley Building. The most recent changes have been the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center expansion and the new auditorium.

“I think the changes are good because they help create a better learning environment,” said Amy Esplin, a junior studying English. “It really helps me focus more on my studies.”

Andersen said that most of the construction from 2001 to 2007 was focused on expanding classroom sizes and accommodating the larger student population.

Catch more after the break...

The last three years, Anderson said, have been focused on gathering.

“Consider the Manwaring Center. The largest space is for gather. Then we’re going to be linking it to the library, another place to gathering,” Andersen said.

Andersen said that much of the gospel is about gathering and that it is an essential part of the restoration of the gospel.

Elder David A. Bednar illustrated this point in a devotional address given at BYU-I shortly following the groundbreaking ceremony for the new auditorium in 2006.

“The spirit, purposes and blessings of gathering also occur in smaller but equally important ways on this set apart and special campus,” said Bednar. “This spirit of gathering brings assurance, encouragement and a sense of purpose greater than self. At BYU–Idaho you gather to worship the Father in the name of the Son, to build up the Church and the university, to find defense and protection, and to receive counsel and instruction,” Bednar said.

The school Board of Trustees, composed of different church leaders, is closely involved in project planning.

“Miracles have happened as we have been planning [for the growth],” Andersen said.

The past 10 years have been filled with growth and change and plans are underway to keep it going for the next 10 years.

Future projects include possible changes to the John W. Hart Building, the David O. McKay Library, and the Oscar A. Kirkham Building.

Possible changes to the men’s dorms are also being discussed.

“One of the biggest changes might be the Pathway programs,” said Andersen. “While currently a pilot, the program’s goal is to provide educational opportunities to young adults regardless of where they live.”

The program will be an online learning initiative based out of institute programs across the world.

“It will change the face of CES,” Andersen said.

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