2 new private LDS colleges planned

This story in the Deseret News indicates two new LDS-themed colleges are planned. The reason?

“We can create the right environment for them, where they don’t have atheists and antagonistic teachers and classes and subjects antagonistic to testimony,” Ivie said.

I reckon a quote like that is certain to get the Bloggernacle all fired up. Here’s my take:

As the Church grows, there is more demand for being able to study on the BYU campuses. But the BYU campuses are full. Southern Virginia University, a private LDS-themed school, is growing and succeeding. The bottom line: supply for an LDS-themed education is less than the demand. That means that somebody will come along and provide more supply, which is what is happening.

As to whether people should go to LDS-themed universities rather than to schools with atheists and antagonistic teachers, well, I guess it depends on the student. Some students’ testimonies will thrive in a diverse environment, others’ will wilt. Some parents and students want to consider LDS themes when looking at colleges — others are looking for something different.

At the end of the day, choice is a good thing, so I find the proliferation of LDS themed colleges encouraging. Bloggernaclites with an interest in education should be happy about this — more colleges mean more potential places to get jobs.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

39 thoughts on “2 new private LDS colleges planned

  1. Having made a four-hour trip into the Moapa Valley for a wedding reception (my daughter’s), I think I’ll echo the commenter on the Deseret News site: what young person would want to go to college there?

    And, SVU has survived–barely. Whatever the demand for an LDS college, the 800-pound gorilla with his thumb on the scale is the Church, which subsidizes BYU tuition so much that a new private college has a huge obstacle to overcome–tuition that must be several times as high as BYU’s.

  2. I was back in the Moapa Valley three weeks ago to visit the graves of my mother, grandparents, and others. My mother and her siblings (all 14 of ‘em [Correction: One died in childhood.]) are graduates of Moapa Valley High School. Moapa Valley Academy is an odd idea at first glance, but it could work. To most eyes, it’s not a pretty place, but many of us come from the desert, and it grows on others. I recognize a couple of the names involved as credible people. Ace Robison, the Logandale Stake President who is quoted in the article, is the LDS spokesman in southern Nevada these days. He was Senator Paul Laxalt’s chief of staff and has been state Republican Party chairman.

  3. In many ways, this is a move back to the past. Places like Dixie College and Snow College were originally church schools, and a person could still get all the LDS experience they can imagine at those schools. Having such places beyond Utah is a nice move.

  4. There are a couple of things to consider here:

    1. There are no ‘LDS-themed’ work places out there that have prayers before work or some sort of gospel centered application of the work at-hand, for the most part of course, but then again I am out here in the ‘Mission Field’ and so with that how does an LDS-themed college really prepare one for the real non-LDS-themed work force? Perhaps spiritually and again that is dependent on the individual as per above.

    2. As well, with all Mormons ‘wanting’ to go to the ‘Y’ of some sort, what does that benefit the non-LDS-themed colleges by not having any LDS diversity in their midst. It is true that some of the best innovations at any non-LDS-themed college have some from LDS, and so why take that away from these colleges.

    As for myself, I would not have set foot on an LDS-themed college campus if my life would have depended on it for so many reasons, the least of which was the idea that the core secular topics of science and math are just not that well covered at these schools. No, don’t bother even trying to argue that point, this is an absolute truth! No, seriously, don’t even go there!

  5. I would love to see a full half of the BYU students from California stay in California and go to a CSU or UC school instead. Stronger institute programs in that state are well within reach, and I think would go a long way to an overall rise in activity of California’s LDS youth.

    And a CSU or UC education is fairly affordable (although a UC education is not as affordable as a BYU one).

    I would then like to see more youth from other parts of the country (esp, the Midwest, South and East) make up the difference at BYU (as opposed to filling those spots with more students from the Intermountain West).

  6. hallpx2, as a math and mechanical engineering double major at BYU with a PhD from Johns Hopkins, I’m going there. I’ll add to that my wife, another BYU alumna, who did just fine as a molecular biology graduate student at Johns Hopkins. BYU teaches math and science just fine.

  7. One of my best friends was a biology major at BYU who just finished first in his class at University of Miami’s PhD program and landed a high-profile teaching job. He said the biology program at BYU was quite good and prepared him for his PhD quite nicely.

  8. As a mainstream, orthodox, humble follower of the brethren, I must say that it is quite disturbing to me to come on this site and see people adovacating for something the prophet has consistently counselled against. How many times must the berthren tell us to go to colleges near our homes and participate in the institute program before we start to listen to them? As for me and my house, we have taken their advice to heart, with kids getting a good education at the U of Kansas and taking part in an excellent student ward and institute program.

    Our reward for following prophetic counsel was when the Lord blessed us with a top 5 finish in NCAA football and the national championship in basketball. Is any further proof of Divine approval necessary?

  9. Somehow the humor alert on my previous comment got lost. So read it as though it contained smileys in about 15 places.

  10. Mark IV, I got the humor in your comment, and I think you actually make a good point, but I don’t see where anybody has advocated NOT going to school near our homes and participating in the institute programs, except maybe the people in the Deseret News article promoting their own schools. Maybe I missed it.

  11. But seriously: I’m only talking about California.

    In my experience, in addition to having a testimony, of course, church activity is very much helped along by a thriving institute program. A good institute program not only provides opportunities for courtship and marriage, but also brings more Mormon youth into the classroom. It’s easier to go to a Book of Mormon class when you have friends who are also attending. California has enough Mormon youth that especially if more of the wealthier, well-educated youth (who tend to go to BYU — and can get in to BYU) were around to strengthen the institute programs the net effect could be quite positive.

    I have no illusions that those patterns are going to change much. But as a former California and former Utah (and now Minnesota) Mormon, I think that it’s something California Mormon youth and their parents should strongly consider.

  12. Ben, interesting thread. Of course, we encourage readers to comment here rather than JI — we have a much more mature audience. :) (For the humor challenged, that was a big, fat joke, get it Juvenile Instructor?)

  13. Haha, funny Geoff. Though a recent post and the comments following over here at Millennial Star on a recent thread don’t point to a “much more mature audience.” :) (For those still humor challenged, that was a lighhearted jab at the recent brouhaha over a certain animated Disney/Pixar film).

  14. I’m generally opposed to church schools. I think that they drain the active young adults from areas where they are desparately needed.

  15. I keep thinking about what this Desert Valley Academy would mean to the Moapa Valley. (I don’t care for that name–too generically vague, like the name of a new housing tract.) The Moapa Valley has 8,000 people, one high school, and one stake with eleven wards plus a Spanish branch and a YSA branch. So: a mostly Mormon community.

    Fifty miles away is Las Vegas with its 1.8 million people and growing. There is not much going on economically in Logandale and Overton; the bulk of the laboring population who lives there drives to Las Vegas every day. For the most part, the Moapa Valley is where they grew up and where they prefer to live, despite the commute. (Many, like most of my uncles and aunts decide that moving to Las Vegas is what they prefer.) Every year, though, more Californians, who don’t think driving only an hour to work is so bad, move to Clark County, Nevada, and some of them buy homes in the Moapa Valley.

    When I look at the directors of the Desert Valley Academy, I see a number of people who are devoted to 1) the LDS church, and 2) the Moapa Valley. I think a factor big in their minds is that a Ricks College-type institution would do a lot to help their community retain its Mormon character.

  16. hallpx2, I’m afraid I’m going to have to “go there” too. I received a BSEE from BYU 10 years ago now. I have since received an MSEE and worked for 10 years doing semiconductor development work for IBM. I found my undergraduate work prepared me extremely well for graduate school as well as the workplace (I did graduate work while working full time). In the course of my career at IBM I have worked with many engineers from prestigious school as well as lesser known schools. I have seen differences in their skill sets based on education. I have never felt at a disadvantage even when competing with engineers who went to prestigious schools.

    I can not speak for all of the programs at BYU, but the engineering program is a very good program.

  17. I just wish I knew where the schools with “atheists and antagonistic teachers and classes and subjects antagonistic to testimony” are. I’ve had a fair amount of schooling at lots of big universities, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that a professor said anything that was in any way antagonistic to testimony.

    I do think the social experience is important–it would be nice if there were some way of seeding other cities the way Boston/Cambridge have been, such that there are now three thriving singles wards. DC has similar numbers of singles, and NYC does, too, but those are more professionals than students, I think.

  18. Kristine, I went to university in the early 1980s, and I find myself agreeing with you. My school was a cesspool morally in terms of the environment in the dorms, the lack of morality of the RAs and the constant party atmosphere. “Animal House” was definitely the favorite movie for just about everybody on Friday nights. However, having said all that, I don’t remember any professors or classes and subjects that were antagonistic to testimony. It was more the general environment in the dorms that was antagonistic to testimony.

    I have been assured by a Random John, who went to Stanford more recently, that things have improved in the dorms, and I have re-visited recently, and things seem a lot better, so my experience may have just been the result of a short period of time left over from the 1970s when things were a bit out of control.

    I can also second your comment about “seeding other cities.” My last ward contained two universities and a large community college in its borders, yet we got perhaps an average of 10 students in the ward. The Church did its part with Institute, but there were not even enough people for a single’s ward. I’m not convinced going away to LDS themed colleges is the best thing to do for everybody, although it definitely will be a good choice for some people.

  19. For everyone that ‘went there’, where did you all get your grad degress from, NOT BYU, and in fact for the most part to get the workforce education you wanted, you didn’t stay at the ‘Y’ now did you, you all used the ‘Y’ to all determine that in order to get the Ed you wanted, you had to go somewhere else after the fact? Yes, you did…yes, you did! My point exactly!

  20. I was a young single in a couple of places where there were only a dozen or fewer or us in the ward, and for me it was a great situation. For the most part I favor integration of singles into elders’ quorums and relief societies with a variety of saints rather than partitioning them away into an age-segregated throng. On the other hand, I enjoyed my years at BYU.

  21. My argument has nothing to do with teaching in most cases because my case has never been against the teaching at the ‘Y’ but the course content and program depth which in turn drives a good number to decide that they need something more than an undergrad degree at BYU to get what they want out of schooling and career path. In fact, why did you not stay at the ‘Y’ for your grad studies? Exactly! My good friend, my former Bishop, and my current Stake President can all atest to that fact that BYU did not give them enough to get on with their careers after their undergrad studies and in fact there are a good number on this thread that are proving out this point.

  22. For a little perspective, one of my classmates in my graduate program, taking all the same courses I was, received his undergraduate degree from Cambridge. The quality of my undergraduate education (or lack thereof, as you are convinced) was hardly a factor in my need for graduate study in order to do what I do. After graduating from BYU and before starting graduate school, I worked a year and a half at a lab where most of the staff had PhDs. If I were some genius like Freeman Dyson, then yeah, I could have forged ahead doing great things without a PhD union card.

    But enough about me. Tell us all about your adventures in higher education and the B.A. that taught you everything you needed to know to succeed in life.

  23. hallpx2 asserts regarding LDS-themed colleges that:

    the core secular topics of science and math are just not that well covered at these schools. No, don’t bother even trying to argue that point, this is an absolute truth! No, seriously, don’t even go there!

    The proof for this?

    course content and program depth which in turn drives a good number to decide that they need something more than an undergrad degree at BYU to get what they want out of schooling and career path.

    So in this day and age a good number of people decide they need advanced degrees from a different institution than their undergrad studies? Shocked! I am shocked! Only at LDS-themed colleges would this occur!

    Perhaps the better question is for hallpx2 to tell us where he/she received an undergraduate degree so that we can decry their lack of instruction in logic.

    But then again, I received an MSEE from BYU, so my science and math skills are insufficient to follow hallpx2′s ‘absolute truth’. No, seriously.

  24. hallpx2 has made a very strange argument based so far only on a small amount of anecdotal evidence, but he still deserves respect and should get it.

    Hallpx2, I would, with all humility, tell you that you made a very broad-brush assertion that, frankly, insults literally hundreds of thousands of people who have graduated in science and math from BYU. You may be right, but you will need to do better than say your good friend and bishop and stake president say BYU has an insufficient program. You will need to summon some statistics showing how it ranks and then show that its grad schools are not up to snuff because of other statistics, etc. You assert that secular topics are not well covered at the Y — well, one way to back that up would be to say that there are XXX amount of courses at the Y in math and science compared to ZZZ number of courses at another comparable school, and therefore the Y is inferior. Otherwise, your assertion is really not very believable and cannot be taken seriously.

    But a reminder to all to treat all commenters with respect on this site. Thanks.

  25. While not the right choice for everyone, I would actually highly recommend a school like BYU or many of the CSU campuses that place a high value on teaching and especially on providing undergraduates with research and publishing experience. BYU, SF State, SDSU, SJSU, CSU Long Beach (and others) can all be much better choices for some students than a UC or a private.

  26. That science and math undergrads choose to go elsewhere for their graduate work shows only that they have common sense. I was told early on in my academic career that if I wanted to be taken seriously, I should not get my graduate degree from the same or even a similar school from which I received my undergraduate degree.

    If you are going to make an inflammatory assertion, be prepared to back it up with more than anecdotes.

  27. There are a lot of faithful young people in the Las Vegas area who would like to stay close to home for their education. Right now, many of them go to UNLV with its excellent institute program, or a local community college, but a lot go out of state to schools in Utah–like SUU. There just aren’t a lot of educational institutions to choose from in the Las Vegas area. A college in Moapa Valley that keeps students close to home would be a great addition to what is offered in the area. Granted, it won’t be up to the standard of BYU or probably UNLV in most areas, but it certainly has the potential to surpass the community colleges while offering a great atmosphere during crucial young adult years. I think it’s a great idea and fills a needed niche in that particular community.

  28. Well put, KHK. A new school in Moapa Valley wouldn’t matter at all to someone with the opportunity to attend somplace like Stanford, especially in its initial years, but the bulk of college students qualify for and need institutions a couple tiers down from that.

  29. Getting a little defensive now are we about this ‘strange’ argument that I have made, wow, get a grip people, I made some statements about some observations of current BYU grads that I know of and you highly educated bunch went all stupid with your…’blah blah blah BYU is very good blah blah blah yackety yack don’t talk back mumbo jumbo you live in the mission field what do you know’ when in reality if you are offended about this sort of thing, perhaps there is more truth to the hype than you care to admit! It really isn’t that strange if you are on the outside looking in, just ask some people! I do not see a lot of smart-educated-motivated-well-behaved non-members applying to BYU, do you? Perhaps in Utah, but nowhere else, really!

    In fact didn’t the dooce lady go there and look what happened to her, she got all bent out of shape because of her lack of internal moral fiber and she was a member!

    I looked at those so-called vaunted grad programs at the ‘Y’ with the intention of perhaps applying and looked into the core of the programs and saw a black hole of ‘already did that in my undergrad, that could be boring to do that again! Sorry not going there, see ya!’ So, what I’m kind of hearing here is that you could of received the same level of graduate education degree at BYU as at Johns Hopkins, but because of common sensitivity of diversification, you chose elsewhere? Ok, keep telling yourself that lie, perhaps it’s a lie we should all try and believe! Very odd, next someone will try and tell me they knew people that turned down the chance to go to MIT to stay at BYU for grad studies, in math and sciences no less!

  30. Hallpx2, you are sounding more and more like a troll every comment. Either get some facts to add to the discussion or kindly move on to another blog. Thank you.

    (In case you’re wondering, I did not go to BYU — didn’t even apply — and definitely not in math and science).

  31. If SVU had been accredited when I was choosing schools (it started up when I was a junior in high school) I would have gone there — provided I could have gotten sufficient financial aid. As it was all my need-based and merit awards and part-time work at Ohio State (at about a tenth of the tuition) still left me with over $30k in student loans. I’d like to see more affordable LDS-themed education, personally — my choices for the next twenty years will be heavily influenced by my debts — but having schools in different regions is also a good thing.

    Of course in some cases Mormons have essentially colonized departments and colleges at secular schools; a cursory glance at the list of residents in any given dental program at Ohio State seems to indicate that about half of the students are LDS; when I was attending Institute some classes (the Isaiah ones, and anything held on Fridays, in particular) were entirely filled with dental students, mostly with undergrad degrees from BYU.

  32. On the subject of math and science courses at BYU I have been assured by a very bright student (certainly smarter than I am) that went to BYU and then got his phd at Stanford that BYU’s undergrad courses are no where near as rigorous as those at Stanford. If you’re bright BYU will prepare you well enough for an advanced degree program anywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean that its undergrad programs are as good of a preparation as those at the best schools in the country.

    As for Mormons at Standford, I’ll reiterate what I’ve said over and over. Geoff B’s experience there was totally disconnected from that of a faithful active LDS student. I had no problem living LDS standards in the dorms for four years and had a great time there. LDS students that went inactive almost universally came with the intention of doing so and never set foot in the church. I had one LDS friend who was on shaky ground when she got there and eventually went inactive. I would guess that activity rates for LDS students at Stanford after 4 (or 6 including mission) rival those of BYU.

  33. One last comment “going there” for hallpx2…
    I am a geologist. Went for my undergraduate degree to the University of Northern Colorado. Got a GRADUATE DEGREE (Yes, graduate degree) M.S. Geology from Brigham Young University. Went on to received my Ph.D. in Applied Geology from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany (Just because BYU does not have a Ph.D. program for Geology). The Germans are rather strict on their degree requirements before being accepted into their Ph.D. program. American Degrees are notoriously scrutenized for their lack of academic rigor. I had to resubmit my M.S. from BYU to the German University of Wuerzburg as well as the Department of Higher Education for the German State of Bavaria. Guess what? My BYU M.S. passed with flying colores. I was granted the equivalency of the German academic title “Diplom” for my Masters Degree, and the German Academia at the University extolled my Master’s Education & Background. I don’t know about other programs at BYU, but for Geology you can take the “core secular topics of science and math are just not that well covered at these schools” argument completely off your list. These are my facts and proofs for my field of study, where are yours???

  34. Dr K, congrats on your career. I’m pretty sure Hallpx2 was a troll. He has not returned to this blog under that handle in nearly a year. We try to starve our trolls around here — they usually go someplace else to find sustenance.

  35. You know Hallpx2… What do you do in the mission field? I invite several missionaries into my home for dinner who teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and they always leave us feeling uplifted and empowered to share our light and testimonies with others. You are very contentious and seem to be spending quite a bit of time on the computer to do so among members. Can you look for things we share in common and be happy for people and their educational endeavors? I think you can… pick a new focus towards something constructive.

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