1.2 History of PathwayConnect & Online Learning

The BYU-Idaho campus blesses many students, but it has long been realized that there are yet thousands more who could benefit from a BYU-Idaho education, but because of distance, finances, or other obstacles, are kept from pursuing their goals.

In 1971, Henry B. Eyring said the following in his inaugural address as president of what was then Ricks College:

“We must also find ways for this college to serve young people whose needs are shaped by a great variety of cultures and situations, and who may not be able to come to this campus…. We will find direct ways to move the blessing of education … from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.”
President Henry B. Eyring, Inaugural Response, December 1971

Nearly 30 years later, David A. Bednar made a similar statement in his initial speech as president of Ricks College:

“It will be necessary for us … to serve ever better the thousands of students we have on campus while simultaneously reaching out to bless the lives of tens of thousands of young Latter-day Saints throughout the world…. We must learn to assist and bless institute students and other LDS youth in Rhode Island and Rome while effectively serving our students on campus in Rexburg.”
President David A. Bednar, Inaugural Response, February 1998

Both of these brethren echoed a similar sentiment: BYU-Idaho must find ways to educate more students — without having them come to campus in Rexburg.

1.2.1 New Educational Options

In 2007, BYU-Idaho launched an initiative aimed at educating students away from campus — the Online Degree Program. Individuals who met the university’s academic residency requirement (completed at least 15 credits at BYU-Idaho or any other Church college) were eligible to apply to complete one of a handful of associate and/or bachelor’s degrees online.

Two years later, in January 2009, BYU-Idaho launched Pathway. This unique program utilized the flexibility of online learning while also incorporating a weekly gathering with other students — a combination between traditional campus-based and online educational platforms. Plus, participation in Pathway fulfilled the university’s residency requirement, which means unlike the Online Degree Program — Pathway students did not need to have any previous experience with BYU-Idaho to be eligible to participate.

The program was originally introduced in three locations: Nampa, Idaho; Mesa, Arizona; and Manhattan, New York. Pathway has now grown from 50 students in three U.S. cities to thousands of students in numerous locations worldwide. The university has truly found, as Elder Eyring said, “direct ways to move the blessings of education … from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.”