BYU launches long-term planning initiative

Focusing on the future, BYU is launching a long-term planning initiative along with a capital campaign to raise $200 million, it was announced at the annual University Conference on Aug. 22.

As one result, the planning initiative will "help ensure that Brigham Young University becomes a thriving part of the Church's future and not just a relic of its Great Basin past," BYU provost Bruce Hafen told an audience of administrators, faculty and staff during a conference meeting in the Marriott Center.Speaking in the same session, BYU Pres. Rex E. Lee said, "Both of these initiatives, our strategic planning effort and our capital campaign, have as their principal and common objective, to bring us to the kind of university that we want to become, and that we can become."

The planning initiative and the capital campaign have been evolving over the past few years, but have now been integrated with an accreditation self-study, required every 10 years, that will be due in 1996.

"During the 1994-95 school year, this initiative will involve the entire university community at every level in a fresh and complete re-examination of our assumptions, our current strengths and weaknesses, and our future plans," Brother Hafen said.

The goal of the capital campaign is to raise the $200 million over the remaining six years of this decade, Pres. Lee said. He explained that the campaign will begin with a silent phase for the next two years with concentration placed on large gifts and planning for the public phase, to be announced in 1996, when emphasis will be placed on drawing donations from larger numbers of people.

Later, in a Church News interview, Pres. Lee clarified the campaign is beginning with a "silent phase, not a secret phase. Silent means that we are not making any public announcement. The announcement was made for our university community.

"As far as the general public is concerned, the fund-raising contacts will be approximately the same as we have in every past year. After two years, when we do go into the public phase, we will be asking all of our supporters to participate with us in the capital campaign.

It is designed to raise money for specific purposes. In his address, he said: "The campaign priorities include three broad categories: teaching more students, enhancing our educational quality, and securing future opportunities."

Expanding on those priorities, he said the school has already begun a graduation initiative aimed at making a BYU education available to more students while not exceeding the enrollment limit of 27,000. The program includes, among other things, re-evaluation of graduation requirements and additional guidance for students so the time needed to graduate can be reduced. Additional money will also make it possible to provide financial aid to students who are willing to attend spring and summer terms when enrollment is well under the limit, add additional faculty, and increase high-demand general education sections.

Plans under the second priority, he continued, include "expanding the school's library, building BYU's primary role as a superior teaching institution, supporting faculty scholarship that enhances teaching and serves Church interests, endowing operation of the Museum of Art, and extending practical and supplementary education to the members of the Church through distance learning opportunities."

The third category "includes building our endowment and enhancing our international mission" to close the gap between the school's potential and what is being done, Pres. Lee said.

He explained: "Because of the extensive language capacity of our students, and because of our sponsorship by a Church that is expanding so rapidly into so many areas of the world, international opportunities constitute our great potential comparative advantage, and to date we have only scratched its surface."

Concerning the long-range planning initiative, Pres. Lee said everyone in the faculty, staff and administration needs to participate in the process. The initiative will assess what BYU has become, where it should be in five to 10 years, and find ways to achieve those goals.

"We need to be thinking now, and planning for the future with regard to such important issues as, for example, how we allocate our 27,000 admissions slots so as to maximize our ability to provide a better education and better serve the worldwide kingdom; how we can, through our continuing education efforts and otherwise, extend BYU's influence and blessings beyond our two campuses [BYU and BYU-Hawaii]; and what we ought to do to assure that our capacity and understanding regarding non-English languages and non-American cultures fit more beneficially within the broader Church that is expanding so rapidly, so broadly, and so effectively throughout the world. We are not a Utah university, and our sponsor is neither a Utah nor an American Church."

Brother Hafen said the long-range planning initiative is self-imposed and will be done in conjunction with the self-study required by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges for BYU accreditation.

He mentioned eight specific points about the initiative.

One was that the accreditation process be taken seriously. He said that from his experience as a former member of the accreditation body, BYU has nothing to fear from the accreditation team over the school's religious nature and affiliation. "Those people see BYU as an exemplary source of educational strength, not as a place that needs to apologize for itself."

Another point made by Brother Hafen is that the BYU community needs to adopt an inclusive, comprehensive approach to improvement and turn away from self-interested views to an institutional perspective.

"In a related vein," he added, "as we undertake a significant exercise in constructive self criticism, we must also learn to be both honest critics and loyal critics, rather than believing we must choose between being honest about BYU and being loyal to BYU. . . ."

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