I am in Rexburg, Idaho today at BYU-Idaho (formerly Ricks College). Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Kim B. Clark, the president of the University, who until last year was the Dean of the Harvard Business School. The slogan at the university is “Rethinking Education.”
I also met with Fenton Broadhead, Dean of the Business School, and met many students here. Something very special is happening at this university. President Clark works with two other former Harvard Business School professors, Clark Gilbert and Steven Wheelwright, as he seeks to reinvent education at this school.
As I spoke with students and faculty members, the excitement here is tangible. Traditional textbook study with its emphasis on recall is is being replaced with a new approaching that focuses more on understanding and experience. For example, business students take a full semester integrated core of finance, marketing, supply chain, and operations classes, which gives teams of 20 students a chance during the semester to launch an actual business.
Many of these business turn a profit before they are shut down or sold/turned over to the bookstore.
There is a vision here about what kind of students a 21st century university should turn out. They should not be spectators, they should be proactive participants in solving problems.
BYU-Idaho has no intercollegiate sports program; but they do have a football stadium, uniforms, and cheerleaders. The difference is that any student that wants to participate in football can do so for fun or competitively in the large activities/intramural program here. And that goes for all kinds of other sports and extra curricular activities as well.
The students I met are all involved in so many things, getting hands on experience, and real world experience. The business schools internship program is incredible, placing students at big 4 accounting firms and other major corporations.
So keep your eye on BYU-Idaho. For years we (in the Utah community) have heard talk about BYU striving to become the “Harvard of the West.”
For the first time, I’m thinking, maybe that will happen in Rexburg, not in Provo.