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A PRIL 2013

Join the Conversation initiative seeks to improve campus communication » By Matt Urick

In effort to foster a culture of openness and transparency across campus, BYU-Idaho has launched Join the Conversation, an initiative designed to strengthen the communication process between university leaders, line management, and all employees. “We all have the responsibility to ensure that information flows effectively across campus,” President Clark said in an introductory message on the Join the Conversation website. The initiative plans to tackle the distance created by organizational layers that can separate employees. “We hope everyone will get involved with this initiative,” said Merv Brown, director of University Communications. “We hope it reaches every corner of campus and creates channels for effective communication.” Vice presidents are asked to share information from President’s Executive Group and President’s Council with line management and in the Employee Blog. Through the Employee Blog, BYU-Idaho employees will have access to the highest level of information and an opportunity to provide their thoughts. The Join the Conversation initiative encourages all employees of BYU-Idaho to have a voice, and the university has established a number of venues designed to help facilitate discussion. Seeking to foster two-way communication is a vital part of the Join the Conversation initiative. Effective communication requires obtaining feedback. By implementing this initiative the university hopes to obtain ideas and perspectives from others before decisions are made.

The university also hopes this will strengthen trust, create improved morale, and surface great ideas. Employees are encouraged to prepare questions for President Clark and the vice presidents as they make visits to departments across campus, provide feedback and collaborate with supervisors, actively participate on the blog, Facebook, email, and other digital resources, and participate in the monthly President’s Executive Group Q&A. “The purpose of Join the Conversation is to strengthen communication at the university,” Brown said. “We want every employee to have the opportunity to be informed.” While specific steps are being taken to foster this new culture of openness and transparency, the initiative needs the participation of employees on every level. Brown said the initiative is designed to be accessible and available to everyone. He added that university leaders hope multiple venues and channels of communication will enable everyone to participate. “As we work to move BYU-Idaho forward on its steady, upward course, our ability to share information with each other is essential,” President Clark said on the website. “I encourage all of us to fully engage in this endeavor to make effective communication a defining aspect of our work at the university.” For more information concerning Join the Conversation, visit and click on the Employee Blog link.

University Relations & Services area reorganized A reorganization of University Relations and Services has been implemented because of Bruce Hobbs’ departure this summer to serve as a mission president. Effective April 15, the areas currently under his supervision will be restructured as follows: the University Store, Food Services, Event Services, Print and Copy Services, Auxiliary Financial, and Stores, Receiving and Mail Services will comprise the new University Services area, with Eric Conrad as managing director. The University Services area will remain under vice president Charles Andersen.

All University Relations functions, including guest hosting and institutional events, Center Stage and Performance Tours, Education Week, Auxiliaries Marketing, and community relations will be folded into University Communications, with Merv Brown as managing director. Brett Sampson will manage the University Relations functions. The newly merged area will reside under vice president Henry Eyring. Areas that previously reported to Eric Conrad will now report directly to Wayne Clark.

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Department of Mathematics holds 3rd annual high school competition »

By Spencer Allen

For the third time in as many years, the Department of Mathematics hosted seven local high schools in its annual math competition. Over 100 students gathered on March 13 for the event, leaving each rejuvenated and excited about the subject. The day began with each student’s choice of a calculus, pre-calculus, or statistics test. After 90 minutes of complex equations and formulas, students were then organized into teams for further competitions and games. The activities included building a spaghetti tower with marshmallows, pi trivia, minute-to-win-it, and a few rounds of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader,” each category relating back to pi. Adding to the promotion of the event, BYU-Idaho students in the math society helped grade the tests, run the activities and share personal experiences as a math major. Not only did the event allow BYU-Idaho students to participate, but also it gave them a chance to see math in action. “Our hope is to excite students in the area about coming to BYU-Idaho and choosing a math related major,” said Heidi Turner, an instructor in the Math Department. “We want the students to have fun and see the possible benefits of majoring in these fields with scholarships and job opportunities.”

Auto department becomes permanent host for regional contest » By Spencer Allen

The Mark Austin Building, home of the Automotive Technology Program, recently became the official location of the Southeast Idaho regional Skills USA automotive competition. In past years, the event has moved locations on an annual basis. However, wanting consistency and a hope of making the event process easier, BYU-Idaho is now the sole site. Last year the event was hosted by Idaho State University in Pocatello. “It’s exciting that in years to come the event will always be held on campus,” said Brian Firth, a recent graduate and now an adjunct faculty member in the department. “The event itself is meant to enhance and refine skills. It’s a huge attraction for students interested in the field. Now that the event will always be held here, it will be a great recruiting tool for us.” Each year thousands of high school and college students put their automotive knowledge and skills to the test at events hosted by Skills USA. Students must complete 14 individual stages, testing a variety of knowledge from brakes, steering, and alignment, to diagnosing air conditioning problems, to fixing currency issues on an electronic board. The top four finishers in each region move on and compete on a state level. After a competitive state contest, one student will represent his or her state on the national stage. Last year Firth took fourth at nationals, the strongest finish to date for the department.


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2/3 Wide Photo with Caption

Student Leadership Model thrives in student employment » By Abby Stevens

“Deferring for a mission?” “Want to apply for Fast Grad?” “Would you like to have a campus tour?” “As a transfer student, do you have any concerns?” All of these questions and more are handled five days a week solely by BYU-Idaho employees—and not just any employees. These are student employees. “Here in the Admissions Office we want student employees to have lots of responsibilities and we want them to feel like their employment gave them as much experience as their education did,” said Jason Meldrum, admissions coordinator. A factor that contributes to the high student involvement within campus employment is the BYU-Idaho Student Leadership Model. The Student Leadership Model provides students with “a variety of leadership opportunities through campus employment. Thousands of students fill leadership roles in university departments, gaining valuable skills related to their chosen fields of study,” according to the BYU-Idaho Student Leadership Model webpage.

This leadership model is not only meant to benefit students during their time at BYU-Idaho, but it is also intends to better prepare them for future jobs and careers, their families, and church leadership. The model includes having what are called lead students and student coordinators, who work as leaders for training and delegating responsibilities in the workplace.

We’re giving students skills that they can put on a resume. K A R L K A R S TA D, S U P P O RT S E RV I C E S C O O R D I NATO R

“The Student Leadership Model improves students business practices, as well as their writing and communication skills,” said Karl Karstad, support services

coordinator in Online Degrees and Services. “We’re giving students skills that they can put on a resume.” Students who work in campus jobs that employ the Leadership Model gain valuable experiences. “The full-time employees don’t treat the students any differently than they do the other staff members,” said Molly Flores, a student employee who works at the front desk in Admissions. “We’re expected to take on the same level of professionalism, and we’re given the same responsibilities.” Student employees receive positive feedback from those who work with them. “What makes BYU-Idaho’s student employment different is the responsibility we give to students,” Meldrum said. “We feel like every student can make an impact here.” BYU-Idaho staff members agree that they their departments could not accomplish as much as they do without student employees. “We’d be sunk in this office without our student employees,” Meldrum said. A P R I L 2 013


Excerpts from President’s Executive Group Q&A February and March 2013

Question: How will the healthcare reform impact BYU-Idaho with regard to adjunct and temporary employees? President Clark: Probably the main effect is a provision in the law that stipulates anyone who works an average of 30 or more hours per week over a given time period (the measurement period) is deemed a full-time employee and therefore must be paid health benefits (the benefit period). It seems pretty simple, but the current problem is a challenge of implementation. What will the timeframes be? How will all of this work? It’s further complicated by the IRS’s determination that all Church institutions are one group with respect to the law. This means that if an individual works for more than one Church entity, then all those hours have to be added up to determine eligibility for this benefit. So it’s pretty complicated. There is a lot of discussion with DMBA, who is our benefit provider and who wants all the institutions to have the same measurement and benefit periods. At this point, it is a little hard to say exactly how this is going to affect everybody, but a lot of people are working on it. We’re going to do our best. Once we figure it out, then we can be more clear. Question: BYU-Hawaii is pursuing things online distinct from what we’re doing. Why does the Church set up different systems? President Clark: I think the answer is that the Brethren have been very reluctant to impose a common model on all the universities. Some things are common across all the campuses, such as an honor code, a budgeting and finance system, a benefits system, and so on. After that, though, the Brethren have let the president and the people in the university get revelation about how the Lord wants things to move. UPCOMING Q&A The next Q&A session will be held Wednesday, May 17 at noon in the MC Little Theatre.


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There are efforts to find things that we could share. Online is a really good example. A lot of discussions are taking place about how we potentially collaborate more than we have been.

The quality of [our graduates’] work experience, job placement, and graduate program experience has gone up. Our students are getting into better schools, better jobs, and more opportunities are opening up to them as time goes on. PRESIDENT KIM B. CLARK

For instance, it is easy to imagine the growth of education across the Church reaching hundreds of thousands primarily through a variety of technology-mediated delivery systems—online, satellites, mobile networks, or whatever it is. In that world you need a huge infrastructure far beyond anything we would ever do on this campus. It’s one area where we hope to cooperate to have one system that we all use. We’ll have to see how that plays out. It’s going to be an exciting time.

Question: How is BYU-Idaho doing with increasing academic rigor in both on campus and online courses compared to when you first came here? President Clark: There are several ways that you can gauge it. One is complaints from students, and those are up, especially about online classes. One worry we always ought to have about online classes is making sure that we’re not equating busyness with rigor. We need to build real rigor—assignments and work that calls forth the student’s best effort and challenges the student. A second observation is what’s happening to our graduates now compared to those of a decade ago. The quality of their work experience, job placement, and graduate program experience has gone up. Our students are getting into better schools, better jobs, and more opportunities are opening up to them as time goes on. That’s a reflection of three things: (1) the work our faculty do both on campus and online to help our students really learn, (2) the Learning Model getting our students engaged in the work, and (3) the quality of students that are coming to BYU-Idaho. Finally, if you talk to the faculty, the general impression is that BYU-Idaho in general is more demanding and more challenging for our students. Now the issue has got to be whether or not it is the right level and the right kind of rigor. We need to look at that across the board.

FACULTY OPENING The university currently has an opening for a full-time faculty position in the Department of Business Management (Technical Writing). Applications accepted until April 15. Please refer qualified applicants. Contact Peggy Clements at Ext. 1140 for more information.


Biology instructor researches new teaching method for genetic class » By Matt Urick

Two years ago Todd Kelson began a research project in education for genetics classes. “Most students probably recall studying Gregor Mendel and the Punnett Square,” Kelson said. “But genetics has come so far since those days.” Kelson said teachers are still teaching the old material because they don’t know how to teach the current topics in genetics, such as DNA fingerprinting and genomic medicine. His research focuses on developing lesson plans for high school and junior high school teachers that will help them teach some of the more difficult concepts in genetics today. Kelson wrote a lesson plan on the effect of many genes on human traits, specifically height. “I tried it out on my Foundations class for three semesters to work out the bugs,” he said. “When I felt like it was ready, I submitted it as a presentation at a national conference.” Last November, Kelson presented at the National Association of

Biology Teachers Annual Professional Development Conference in Dallas and at a human genetics high school workshop in San Francisco a week later. In Dallas he presented to a room of 24 teachers—17 high school and 7 college. In San Francisco, Kelson gave the same presentation to over 200 high school students at the workshop. The lesson plan in which Kelson presented was well received. It received some of the highest evaluations at each conference. “I was happy to see that people responded well to my presentation,” said Kelson. “It was very gratifying.” Kelson will continue to work on his research in the coming months. He was recently invited to give the same presentation at Madison Junior High School to 7th graders. “It is a really fun activity,” Kelson said. “I get really excited about this stuff and love to see students get excited about it as well.”

Applied Plant Science students top national competiton

For the second year in a row, Landscape Horticulture students have won first place in a national competition that includes 70 schools and over 900 students. This is their fifth first-place finish in the last ten years. A P R I L 2 013


Employee Profile FOR SALE

Eric Karl Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Faculty Start Date: July 2004 Hometown: Rexburg, Idaho

For Eric Karl, instructor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Rexburg is more than bitter cold winters, heavenly summers, and the city where he works; Rexburg is home. “I’ve lived in Rexburg for eight years now, and that’s longer than I’ve lived anywhere else,” Karl said. Before moving to Rexburg, Karl lived in Phoenix, Arizona and worked as an electrical engineer with Intel. “My father was a civil engineer, and growing up I’d always wanted to be an engineer,” Karl said. “I worked as an electrician’s apprentice, and it just clicked for me.”

But after years of considering the idea of teaching electrical engineering, Karl decided to look online at the engineer openings at BYU, BYU-Idaho, and BYUHawaii. After a while, an engineering post opened at BYU-Idaho. “As I was reading, it was as though I was reading a job description for myself,” Karl said. “If I were to write a job description for myself, that would have been it.” Karl began working at BYU-Idaho in 2004. He says that the students are one of the aspects that make his job rewarding. “They are absolutely wonderful and that’s the only way to describe it,” Karl said. “They are great engineers and great people.” Karl attributes his involvement at BYUIdaho to providence. “I’m not here because of me,” Karl said. “I’m here because Heavenly Father provided a way.” For hobbies, Karl enjoys spending time with his family, backpacking, and running triathlons.

New schedule for University Forums

Jazzy Select 14 Scooter. Ariens snowblower. Lapidary equipment. Workbenches, shelves, bookcase. New router. Chain saw. .270 rifle. Pine trees of all sizes, you dig. Call Ferron or Paula at Ext. 4686 or 356-0219. Lot for sale. 1.13 acre residential lot in Rigby. Located in the Teton Heights subdivision. Comparable lots listed from $22k to $30k. $18,900. Call 313-6144. 2008 Puma Travel Trailer. Sleeps up to 8. Fully self-contained with A/C and microwave. Plenty of storage. In great condition. $9,500 OBO. Call 201-3070 Garden plot wanted. Have a garden plot of dirt you’re not using this summer? Happy to pay for space and water. Call 646-359-1887 or email

Save the Date: Special Event for Women

Beginning January 2014, university forums will be reduced from two per semester to one. Under the new schedule, forums will be held in February, May, and October. Colleges will have the option to use the forum hour in March, June, and November for collegelevel gatherings.

Join President and Sister Clark for an uplifting evening with Julie B. Beck, former general president of the Relief Society, on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Taylor Chapel.

The remaining forums of 2013 will proceed as scheduled: May - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

All female employees and wives of employees are invited to attend.

June - College of Education and Human Development October - College of Language and Letters November - College of Business and Communication

News & Notes

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News & Notes April 2013  

The April 2013 edition of News & Notes.

News & Notes April 2013  

The April 2013 edition of News & Notes.