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Ricks College, soon BYU-Idaho, announces majors

REXBURG, Idaho — A first glimpse of the future of Ricks College shows it will undertake an innovative direction as it becomes a baccalaureate-granting university. Poised to be renamed Brigham Young University-Idaho sometime next year, the college will begin some upper division classes in the fall of 2001, President David A. Bednar announced.

Beginning in the fall of 2001, the university plans to offer integrated bachelor's degrees in accounting, English, history and recreation education, along with specialized degrees in business management, elementary education, interior design and nursing.

The university expects to begin offering several secondary education programs in the fall of 2002 in the areas of biology, English, foreign language, math, music, physical science, social studies and theater.

Because of the added costs of offering upper division classes along with annual inflationary costs, tuition will be raised to $1,240 per semester beginning in the Fall Semester of 2001. This reflects a $150 tuition raise from its current level of $1,090.

Tentative plans call for up to nine more majors during the 2002-03 school year, six to 10 during the 2003-04 school year, and nine to ten during the 2004-05 school year. President Bednar said the baccalaureate degrees will be phased in over an unspecified period of time. Space limitations will require some majors to be delayed for a few years until additional classrooms and faculty office space become available. While he did not announce any specific new building plans, he said officials are working on plans for a new ecclesiastical building that would be used for both religious and academic activities.

The president explained the basic framework for the transition to employees and students, explaining that BYU-Idaho will be a two-tiered institution that will offer specialized associate degrees and bachelor's degrees. It will use 120 credit hours as its standard for bachelor's degrees.

President Bednar said the university will feature integrated baccalaureate degrees that require 45 hours or less in a major. It will also offer some specialized baccalaureate degrees requiring more than 45 hours. He explained that integrated degrees will require students to study in multiple disciplines that will provide broad-based preparation for employment and life.

By linking creative curriculum, complementary disciplines and internships, these degrees will provide unique educational opportunities. President Bednar said BYU-Idaho may see "a modest increase" in the size of the student body during the next few years. It will maintain its present level of approximately 8,600 freshman and sophomore students and its student-faculty ratio of 25 to 1. The projected number of students on campus is roughly estimated at 9,200 for 2001-02; 9,800 for 2002-03; 9,900 for 2003-04; 10,600 for 2004-05; and 11,600 for 2005-06. However, to accommodate the greatest number of students, the university will utilize its facilities year-round and offer a complete array of courses during the summer as well as during the traditional fall and winter semesters.

Students will be admitted on one of four academic tracks. Besides the traditional fall-winter track, the school will offer a winter-summer track, summer-fall track and fast track program. These four tracks will allow the university to accommodate more students throughout the span of a year.

The school estimates that 9,600 students will be served during the 2001-02 year, 10,300 during the 2002-03 year, 10,700 during the 2003-04 year, 12,500 during the 2004-05 year and 14,500 during the 2005-06 year.

BYU-Idaho will maintain the present character of its student body, and its overall philosophy and approach of admitting students will not change. Admission will continue to be based on a combination of factors, including academic achievement, leadership qualities and ecclesiastical involvement.

The school will also maintain the same character of its faculty. Unlike most other universities, it will not have academic rank for its faculty members. While new faculty will need to be hired, the school intends to retain its present faculty and offer retraining as needed. While the figures will undoubtedly change, he estimates that approximately 25 new faculty members may be needed for the 2001-02 school year, 20 for the 2002-03 year, five for the 2003-04 year, 25 for the 2004-05 year, and 25 for the 2005-06 year. BYU-Idaho also will emphasize "the scholarship of learning and teaching" and emphasize the need for both its students and faculty to become more effective learners and teachers. President Bednar said BYU-Idaho will continue to foster a nurturing, spiritual environment, which will continue to be referred to as "the spirit of Ricks."

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