Options for BYU faculty

Over at BCC, John S. has a post that is, overall, not very helpful.

I mean, first off it’s trying to cram together the question of opposing a sustaining vote and the nearly unrelated issue of requiring BYU faculty to hold temple recommends, but the bigger problem is that it reinforces some untrue and counterproductive things that BYU faculty and academics more generally tell themselves.

Most importantly: if you’re in need of pastoral care, you do have people to talk to even if you’re reluctant to talk to your bishop. For several years now, the first place for adults to turn in most situations hasn’t been the bishop anyway. Bishops are supposed to be focusing their efforts on the youth. If you need to talk to someone for pastoral care, the first person to see is a ministering brother or sister, followed by a member of the elders quorum or Relief Society presidencies. If those don’t seem like good options, try telling your elders quorum or Relief Society president what you need and asking who you could talk to. These people want to help you and probably could if you tell them.

There are a few issues that do require meeting with your bishop. Maybe you’ve decided that God is dead, or the Restoration is baloney, or what the church teaches as important standards of behavior are not compatible with the life you’re living. Sometimes the pastoral care you need isn’t affirmation, but someone to call you on your nonsense, and sometimes pastoral care has hard consequences. Another hard-to-swallow pill (and there will be a few of them here) is that sometimes institutions head one direction and you head another and the relationship just isn’t going to work out. It’s not tenable for the church to have high-profile frontline people (as a faculty member, that’s you) who can’t contribute to one of the university’s core missions. You can’t ask faithful Dr. Jane Smith, who would love to teach at BYU, to keep waiting indefinitely while you, Dr. John Doe, continue teaching at a place you dislike while resenting having to attend church, pay tithing, accept Russell M. Nelson as a prophet, or whatever your issue is. (The situation with nonmember faculty is different; think of Harry looking on while the Weasleys argue among themselves.)

One more hard-to-swallow pill (and then we’re done). Asking faculty to qualify for a temple recommend won’t lead to a devastating crisis for BYU. My impression is that most students, staff and faculty like BYU how it is and will approve of the requirement. People calling for a vast walk-out by disgruntled faculty are living in a fantasy world and you should ignore them, no matter how much you wish it would happen. If your job at BYU ends, the school’s reputation will not suffer, its graduates will continue to get jobs, and it will quickly replace you with someone else with excellent qualifications and then continue sailing on its course, because that’s what institutions do. The position you loathe is someone else’s dream job. They will fill it only too happily, and everyone – including you, eventually – will be better off for it.

I know this because I’ve had my own opportunity to seek employment elsewhere after being a CES employee. It wasn’t due to the temple recommend requirement or anything like that – I actually think the requirement is a good idea – just a simple case of me believing that BYU-Idaho should continue offering courses in my field, while BYU-Idaho believed it should stop offering courses in my field, and, well, here we are. Enrollment has increased steadily even in my absence, and the dollars that would have gone toward my salary are now used for something that better aligns with the vision of whoever’s in charge of the university’s mission.

And what you have to understand despite what you may be telling yourself is this: you have options. You can get hired somewhere else after BYU. The international currency of academia is research (or innovative teaching initiatives, if that’s your game), and if you put enough of that on your CV, you can get hired somewhere else. I got hired twice more for full-time academic jobs after teaching at BYU-Idaho, plus I was a finalist for a tenure-track job. You’re not trapped. If you need to plan for an academic career after BYU, there are things you can do now to make it possible.

I’m not saying that moving will be easy. The first semester or two at a new place is always rough, and the personal side may be even more difficult. You might love your house or your ward or your town, or your spouse might have a good thing going where you are, or your kids might have friends and activities they enjoy. It might be a hard move.

A hard move: when you can’t stop thinking, from the day you pack the first box to the time you close the door on the moving truck, This is all so stupid. When you come home and find your spouse has walked into the bedroom closet, closed the door and turned out the light, and just lain down on the floor because she can’t accept what’s happening. When you drive to your new town and walk into your new house and your children lie on the floor and cry. I can’t promise you that moving on from BYU won’t be a hard move.

But here’s what happened after our hard move. My kids went to school, made new friends and started putting down roots. Our new ward was wonderful and well-stocked with people who understood how academic careers can go sideways. We found new activities we enjoyed. After six months, I had the surprising realization that I had gone a whole day without feeling terrible.

Or don’t move! Moving is awful and you have options. Maybe you love your house and ward and friends, plus the great skiing or the Provo ambience or the easy access to national parks from Rexburg. On good days, working in academia is fantastic, but ignore the people telling you that academia is the only option. I’m not saying it’s easy to reconfigure your career and professional identity – it’s kind of unpleasant, actually – but you have everything you need to do it. You have an advanced degree and years of experience. You know things that no one else knows. You have a network of contacts across at least one country. And unemployment is low. You don’t think your degree or skills have economic value? Look, one of my qualifications is a doctoral certificate in medieval studies, so I know a thing or two about useless degrees. Academics have to stop thinking that they can’t make a living outside of academia.

Or if you can’t wait to shake the dust of Provo from your feet, don’t let your academic job keep you tied down somewhere you’re not happy. You have options. You can choose. That second time being hired for an academic job after BYU-Idaho that I mentioned? That’s when I should have recognized that the academic job market wasn’t my own personal oracle revealing the divine will. When I got the offer, everything was telling me This job does not make sense for you, but I didn’t think I had any options, and I’d been pleasantly surprised by unpromising jobs before, only this time all the surprises were bad, and six weeks after moving yet again, everything was telling me Your family cannot stay here and eventually I acknowledged that remaining in academia wasn’t worth the cost. Without having another job lined up or an obvious plan B, I told my colleagues I wouldn’t be returning in the fall. The department head asked to have it in writing so they could advertise for my replacement, and before long the position in a town I loathed was filled by someone for whom it was a dream job. We moved, I found some temporary teaching, and then that too dried up.

But the global economy is much larger than you can imagine, and people do all kinds of things for pay, and your degree and background means you’re probably the best person in the world at something or another. Since leaving full-time teaching with only a vague idea what to do next, our financial situation has improved, unsteadily but substantially. I still get to work with mostly nice people on mostly interesting problems, and people give me money in return. I’m still active in research because that’s the part of academia I like most. I no longer rewrite a year’s worth of introductory courses every time the department switches textbooks. I don’t stare at enrollment numbers with gnawing dread. I don’t sneak into my office on Sunday afternoons to prep Monday classes. I don’t feel constant desperation from trying to keep a program afloat by myself. There are still occasional moments of anger and regret and loss that probably won’t ever entirely go away, and maybe there will be for you too, but life without a daily dose of despair is actually quite an improvement.

Most of all I hope you can work through whatever issue or crisis or situation makes you worried about talking openly with your bishop, and that you can enjoy a long and happy career at BYU. But if that’s not how things turn out, it’s not the end of the story. It can be hard to see in the moment, but you have possibilities to consider and options to weigh, possibly including things you’ve previously resisted, but probably including options that will leave you happier with the world than you can imagine right now.

32 comments for “Options for BYU faculty

  1. First of all, I second Jonathan’s “It Gets Better” message for former academics.

    The other thing I would add is that you can’t expect to accept payment in widow’s mites while still harboring the kind of fundamental discordances with the Church that would lead to getting your temple recommend revoked.

    In the rare case that you get it yanked for patently spurious reasons it would be easy enough to appeal. I recently had a sit-down discussion with a good brother in my ward who was concerned that I didn’t believe that the flood was a global event that happened 6,000 years ago. If a Bishop tried to pull my temple recommend for that belief I’m pretty sure the Stake President would get it back.

    I’m more sympathetic to, say, addictions that they’re trying to work through, but even there there has to be a line at some point, and allowing for leadership flexibility seems more reasonable than using some hard and fast rule.

  2. Take heart, everyone. You are not locked into your current employment, break out if you are miserable where you are. I was trained as a medical professional and had a great practice. One day I was invited to teach 2 half-days a week at the local university. I really enjoyed it and after a couple of years, was invited for another half-day. Soon I was teaching 4 days a week and loving it. Finally I was invited to work full time and I thought my ship had finally come in.

    Don’t always think your dreams have come true. As a full time staff member I was soon diverted from strictly teaching, which I loved, into the responsibilities of administration. I hated it; oh to be back just teaching. My dream had turned into a nightmare. Fortunately I was old enough to retire so I did. Things are great now. I do what I want and enjoy my retired life.

    Another example is my daughter. She attended university and finally got her PhD in anthropology. She loved the field but soon tired of the academic prejudice toward women in her field and the barriers to advancement thrown up by administration. Finally in her late 40s was offered an interesting job in agriculture, on a farm. Now she is in heaven. She does research, writes grant proposals and works out of doors with a group of Mexican workers who are highly motivated to work and really like and respect her. She got out of a confining job where she was stifled and is now really enjoying her life. A move can be a great experience; don’t be afraid of it.

  3. Call me naive, but I’ve worked at BYU twice—once in a temporary faculty slot for about 9 years and then for the past 15 years in an administrative position—and I always understood that the temple recommend for LDS members was a must. They used to check it periodically, although I can’t remember when that happened last. So if they changed policy sometime in the past 15 years, they forgot to tell me. Needless to say, this big announcement was, for me, a head-scratcher. I’m just surprised that BYU hasn’t gotten rid of me yet. Fortunately, I have had bishops and stake presidents who have accepted my unorthodox answers to the standard temple recommend questions, so maybe I’m just lucky. Or naive.

  4. “If those don’t seem like good options, try telling your elders quorum or Relief Society president what you need and asking who you could talk to. These people want to help you and probably could if you tell them.

    There are a few issues that do require meeting with your bishop.”

    To use a conservative phrase, this is fake news.

    If I need services like financial assistance, approval to visit the storehouse, or to avail myself of professional counselling services, the Bishop approves all of this. Not the EQ/RS president, which essentially makes them middlemen, which is both a waste of time as well as increases the amount of people that have access to personal information that isn’t their business.

    Honestly I get the impression that the OP and I actually attend different churches.

    So much to say, but I’ll be brief and agree with E. So much for mourning with those who mourn.

    This blog used to really be something back in the day. Sad.

  5. My experience is the same as Tom’s. I worked at BYU for 20 years. I was under the impression I had to have a current temple recommend all the time and yes, they did call my bishop. I am really not sure how this is new or why it is news.

  6. I think Chadwick is a little behind the times. The last two times we needed financial help, it went through either the EQ pres or the RS pres. The Bishop actually told us since he was supposed to focus on the youth, not to waste his time by contacting him.

    He does ultimately approve them, but in our case at least, he just rubber stamped them, taking the EQ or RS president’s recommendations without a second glance – which is what he said he would do.

  7. Great commentary as usual, JG.
    Take personal responsibility. Let go of your sense of entitlement and your martyr complex. Make decisions that align with your values, not a hypothetical future institutional embrace of your values.

  8. Ivan W:

    How am I behind the times when you just admitted that the Bishop is the approver? Protip: I’m not behind the times. I’m an auditor for the church. There is no mechanism for payment without the Bishop’s approval in the system. Also, not all Bishops would share your view of a mere rubber stamping. I can name five.

  9. I think it’s a little of both Chadwick and Ivan. In our situation the bishop gave the approval but my wife worked with the Relief Society presidency on the details.

  10. Chadwick –


    The Bishop has to do final approval, but in every case I have, the Bishop doesn’t get details unless he feels some need to get them.

    But you see rather angry and very willing to misread JG here; declaring “fake news” on him was in bad taste. His basic point is correct. Even if the Bishop has final approval, it does not mean the Bishop is heavily involved or even knows the details. I am sure if you told your EQ president “I don’t really want the Bishop to know this” he would respect that and the Bishop (or at least the Bishops I’ve had) would not dig too deeply.

  11. I think perhaps the reason for some of the confusion vis-a-vis why BYU would issue a standard that already seems to be in place might have to do with the fact that the directive was issued by the church to *all* CES employees–everywhere–not just BYU. So perhaps it comes to BYU employees as a redundant reminder–as BYU already requires Latter-day Saint faculty to possess a temple recommend.

    Am I wrong?

  12. So, not fake news, and I’m also not seeing how it’s relevant to the issue here. I can’t imagine why seeking financial assistance, a visit to the bishop’s storehouse, or professional services would have any impact on a temple recommend for BYU faculty or for anyone else. It seems like the one thing that no one should have any problem talking to their bishop about.

    As for mourning with those that mourn: are you losing your faculty job at BYU? I’m very sorry if that’s the case; I’ve been through something similar and it was a difficult experience. But I can reassure you that you can move on to another place or another job and be happy in it. If you haven’t lost your job, you could well be worrying yourself more than necessary, and if not, there are things you can do now to make the transition easier.

  13. As a faculty member at BYU for two decades, let me clear up a few misconceptions:

    * Finding another academic position is virtually impossible in this job market, particularly for anyone who is not a junior faculty member (i.e. pre-tenure). The original post errs when implying that this is a reasonable option for the vast majority of faculty at BYU.

    * The standard for BYU faculty prior to this announcement was NOT a temple recommend, but rather being able to qualify for a temple recommend and living in a manner consistent with those principles. That may seem like a distinction without a difference to some, but in reality it is a crucial one.

    * Leadership roulette is real. Bishops can (and do) take actions and have policies based on personal proclivities that make any sort of interaction–from seeking pastoral care to even making comments in a Gospel Doctrine/Elders Quorum/Relief Society setting–a potential threat to one’s employment and livelihood. This is not restricted to someone who may have beliefs that are not in line with LDS theology. I have personal experience with a bishop who refused a temple recommend for not living according to an arbitrary standard he set that is nowhere in the official list of questions. The concern here is not about being able to sin or hold views contrary to prescribed doctrine; instead, it is turning an ecclesiastical leader into the arbiter of one’s employment.

    The option to opt-in to the new requirement includes a caveat that temple recommend qualifications could change in the future. What happens if TPTB decide that they will have a different set of questions for BYU faculty/CES employees that infringes on academic freedom? What happens if an “unwritten rule” emerges that requires X number of visits to the temple in order to remain qualified for a recommend (and, by extension, employment)? So may potential problems that could evolve from this policy. None of my colleagues on campus with whom I have spoken intend to opt-in–not because they do not intend to have a recommend, but rather because of the problems the policy could have both now and in the future.

    And then there is the on-going question of why it is harder to work (or be a student) at BYU than to actually enter the temple? Is BYU holier than the House of the Lord? I have attended the temple with a beard, an earring, and/or long hair at various times in my life. Why are the standards at BYU higher than those to qualify for temple attendance?

    Some will surely suggest that these are petty grievances and that if people do not like the rules at BYU, they should leave. That is unrealistic for many reasons, as I have suggested. The reality is that BYU is a terrific place to work and to teach, but it also infantilizes the faculty and students and completely ignores the notion of “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” This new policy is just another step away from that idea and toward a more authoritarian and myopic campus that is nowhere near the “Harvard of the West” that Jeffrey Holland envisioned or the great university that Spencer Kimball described/aspired to in 1975.

  14. @Doc :

    1) In my profession, the latest data for new Ph.D.’s showed an unemployment rate of 3.1%. This was before overall unemployment in the U.S. dropped to historical lows. If you’re applying to places that take your age into account, they might be breaking the law. If the complaint is that you’d have to apply for a job where the salary is at a junior faculty level, well, welcome to their world.

    2) A rule that requires X visits to the temple to be qualified to enter the temple would be unrepentable (if X > 0), so even the most duncish ecclesiastical leader is unlikely to impose it.

    3) You have at least one colleague who has opted in, but modesty prevents me from identifying him. That colleague is pseudonymous, but then, so are you.

    4) The names you drop at the end are not people who I’ve heard raise the same complaints about BYU that you have. President Kimball, in particular, was one of the most outspoken proponents of the BYU Dress Code.

  15. The holders of Ph.D.s in your field are fortunate. In my field, well over 70% are not employed in academia, and while there are other opportunities for those with doctorates, the vast majority of students enter graduate programs to teach/research at the university level. This is not about salaries; it is about the sheer lack of available positions. Most positions have well over 300 applicants…and there are not many jobs.

    If you cannot envision a scenario where that kind of rule would be implemented, then you have had a starkly different experience with ecclesiastical leaders than I (and many others I know) have had. Not only is it plausible, but it is the type of requirement that I could certainly see created for BYU/CES employees.

    Yes, I remain anonymous. Given the fact that there are people at BYU and at Church headquarters whose have specific responsibility to monitor social media, I would prefer not to be easily identifiable when commenting online. But I have no doubt that some faculty will opt-in to the new policy; in fact, I would imagine that some departments (e.g. Religion) will get a great deal of pressure to do so or, alternatively, some faculty will see this as a way to virtue signal. My point was simply that in my experience over the past several days, 100% of the people I have spoken to have various reservations about doing so.

    I did not state or imply that either Holland or Kimball had similar concerns. I simply asserted that the type of university they described cannot exist in the kind of circumscribed and myopic environment that has evolved at BYU since the early 1990s. BYU was at its best in the late 1980s when TPTB in the administration and in SLC trusted the faculty and created an environment amenable to the kind of synergy between scholarship and faith that is the ideal at BYU. And without getting off on a tangent, the problem with the Honor Code is not its existence (although there aspects of it that make no sense whatsoever and have no doctrinal basis). It is the enforcement of only the external facets of the HC (e.g. beards, skirt length) rather than the lack of repercussions for violating the prohibitions against plagiarism, cheating, and other academic malfeasance–all things that make one ineligible for a temple recommend–that is problematic.

  16. Doc: “Won’t anyone think of the tenured faculty?” is not an argument that’s going to gain much sympathy. I understand that senior faculty face different challenges, but, seriously, they’ve had at least 6 years of stable, full-time employment and research funding, and possibly decades of it. They’ve had a chance to buy homes and build up equity. They’ve had sabbaticals and funded research. If senior faculty didn’t do anything with their years of research support to stay competitive candidates for another academic job…well, the good news is that academic jobs aren’t the only option. They have enough experience to move into consulting roles of various kinds. Maybe their academic careers will last 10 or 20 years instead of all the way to the point that someone lays a copy of their Festschrift in their casket, and that’s okay. Besides, senior faculty at BYU seeking another position have a ready-made explanation for going on the market; all it takes is a wink and a nod, and the search committee will understand and sympathize.

    I’m fairly confident that my field is more moribund than yours is, and that the number of PhDs awarded has become even less justifiable. That hasn’t stopped friends whose programs have gotten axed after 20 years of service (not all that uncommon these days) from putting out applications and getting hired in jobs that use their skills and experience, even if they’re not university teaching jobs. Moving isn’t fun or easy, but it’s possible.

    With worries about leadership roulette and future rules, I think you’re mostly buying trouble. It seems like in that case, there are also options, such as bringing the issue to a stake president.

    In short: the idea that faculty can’t go anywhere else or do anything else isn’t true and isn’t helpful. Insisting that there is no possibility of teaching or working anywhere else, while at the same time imagining dire “what if” scenarios, is a recipe for fear and paralysis.

    What was the arbitrary standard that you mention? You’re anonymous (and totally free to remain so), after all. Was it like, “My bishop wants me to have 50% monthly ministering visits or else” arbitrary, or was it “my bishop wants me to actually attend church at least twice a month” arbitrary? The bishops I’ve known have generally had reasons for what they do.

  17. This isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with strangers on the internet, but it’s the most bizarre. A Bishop literally has to approve all disbursements. Period. Like I said. Jonathan and Ivan have both agreed with me on this point. Yet they continue to tell me I’m wrong because it’s a rubber stamp move. There are like 30,000 bishops in the world; how can anyone know this?

    Also Jonathan, in the future, perhaps you can bold the parts of your post you want us to focus on. You call my comment irrelevant when I literally commented/quoted what you wrote. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode.

    Look, I’m not perfect and I don’t pretend to be. Also, I don’t work for CES, and probably never will, because I like my current gig. This isn’t my fight.

    But there are 56 comments at BCC of people that are concerned about their employment as a result of this change. I’m not personally impacted, and am not well-versed in the situation. But I believe them when they say this is causing harm. Then the OP comes here and calls their situation fake news. No, I don’t call that mourning with those that mourn.

    Yes, perhaps they can get new jobs, but every situation is unique. Right now, they just want us to listen, not lecture.

    If I told you my family just experienced a miscarriage, would you tell me it’s no big deal because we can just try again? I mean, it’s probably true. But is that helpful in the moment? If I lost my job, would you tell me it’s no big deal because there are lots of jobs right now? Again, probably true (especially in my industry), or could you sympathize that I’m going through something hard? If I told you my cousin just died of bone cancer, would you remind me of the plan of salvation? Or would you hold my hand while I cry? The response matters.

  18. Just one point relevant to this back and forth: it’s not like these positions just disappear into the aether (unless, as in Jonathan’s case it’s due to restructuring that doesn’t have anything to do with the faculty member). One employee leaving BYU= one employee being hired at BYU, so in the aggregate things even out, and in that case you might as well have an employee that is a better fit.

  19. Chadwick, we’re discussing the kind of pastoral care that might affect one’s approval to work at BYU. Approval for visiting a bishop’s storehouse has no relevance to that, so I still don’t see your point. The parts of the post to focus on are already bolded and in extra big type, situated at the top of the page: the title is “Options for BYU faculty.”

    The reason I’m posting this here rather than at BCC is because BCC has long been a place that hasn’t been hospitable to disagreement. The people who complain there – and they complain about everything – aren’t open to other perspectives and resent having to read them.

    I don’t think pointing out options causes harm. What causes harm is clinging to the belief that you’re trapped where you are, that any other line of work is unimaginable, and that the most catastrophic hypothetical outcomes are imminent.

    To use your analogy: If you came to me all mournful because your cousin had just died of cancer, I would tell you, “Look, buddy, your cousin is very much alive, so snap out of it. My cousin had bone cancer a few years back and it was awful, but get a grip. If your cousin gets treatment now, he might be just fine. My cousin lost his leg, but he’s a lot happier now with an artificial but cancer-free leg. The outcomes are not nearly as bad as you think.” Mourning with you over your not-dead-yet cousin seems less useful than telling you about treatment options that might save your cousin’s life and/or leg.

    That’s pretty much where we are now. People are mourning over what looks like a relatively minor change and deeply worried about unlikely scenarios. Now that I’ve actually been through some of those scenarios, I’m delivering the good news in the hope that they’ll cheer up, consider their options and make appropriate preparations.

  20. I still find your response completely tone deaf and lacking any sort of charity whatsoever. Terms like “Look, buddy” or “get a grip” are not just unhelpful, they are just plain rude.

    But hey, if that’s how you roll, I think Brad Wilcox just gave a fireside you might really enjoy.

    Peace out.

  21. Maybe I’m naive–but as a blue collar guy it seems to me that those who are paid out of the tithing funds of the church to teach young people — the vast majority of whom are children of the Kingdom — ought to at least be striving to live up to their covenants. Is that really too much to ask?

  22. I told my son that if he didn’t brush his teeth then I wouldn’t read him a bedtime story. He thinks the downside of not brushing is no story.

  23. Well, interesting post and some of the comments were useful. Others have used pejorative language and been unnecessarily…..snippy is the word I want to use, I think.
    Please. I don’t want T and S to become like BCC or Wheat and Tares. I like T and S because it is a civil place where people can feel safe with sharing their views without getting verbally railroaded. To quote Gordon Hinckley, it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Let’s please keep T and S that way, unlike alternative platforms.

    A few general observations about BYU.

    1. I had a very positive experience at BYU when I got my MA in Asian Studies, 1979-1981. My daughter had a likewise good experience getting her BA 2004-2009.

    2. I appreciate the Church’s massive subsidy of the education BYU provides. And BYU can provide a top-notch education.

    3. Having said these things, I have some concerns.

    4. The atmosphere at BYU seems to be getting more stifling as a (misbegotten) sense of pharisaic conformity seems to be settling in. I doubt I now would choose to go to BYU as a student, as it has now become—unless I were to study one of the “hard sciences.”

    5. Years ago, Ernest Wilkinson made a fortunately abortive attempt to have tithing deducted automatically from the paychecks of faculty and staff. The whole thing about requiring temple recommends smacks of the same mindset. The whole concept of ecclesiastical endorsements and Honor Code enforcement offices also smacks of big-brotherism seeking to impose conformity—a far cry from Christlike encouragement to live the higher law.

    6. I admire Mormon intellectuals like Armand Mauss, Richard Bushman, and Juanita Brooks. Faithful scholars who were, or are, not afraid to raise difficult questions, even when other Church members disapprove. I do not think they would find the current BYU a welcoming place. Brad Wilcox’s unfortunate comments only highlight my concern. I am glad he apologized, but the fact that the man even had those thought enter his head in the first place, at all, is……unsettling.

    7. I hope BYU’s atmosphere improves.

  24. FWIW, some departments on campus are begging alumni to return and teach. They can’t find snough people with MS or PhDs with requisite experience to move to Provo to work for BYU wages.

    I suspect this will fade away, employment market forces will dictate it.

  25. “The whole concept of ecclesiastical endorsements and Honor Code enforcement offices also smacks of big-brotherism seeking to impose conformity—a far cry from Christlike encouragement to live the higher law.”

    It may seem that way–and you’d certainly be right if BYU were only a secular institution. But it’s more than that. Those who are employed there work for the Kingdom–their work is tantamount to a calling. And so there must be priesthood oversight in order to keep the institution on track with the goals and aims of the church.

    That said, as the world becomes more wicked it is only natural that greater tension will arise vis-a-vis what is expected of universities in general–as secular institutions–and what the church expects of BYU. And requiring faculty (and staff?) to have temple recommends should be a sign that the church is serious about protecting its vision for BYU–and CES in general. It is finally a *church* school–and as such we really shouldn’t be surprised by some degree of ecclesiastical oversight in the works.

  26. I’m thinking that with all the recent changes at BYU, the old goal of being the “Harvard of the West” is being replaced by “Bob Jones University of the West.” The motto of the “Glory of God is Intelligence” should be the “Glory of God is Obedience.”

    The bigger issue not being discussed is attracting quality staff at BYU. With increasing ecclesiastical scrutiny, what quality teachers and researcher will want to hire on? The best and the brightest will run (are running) away as fast as they can.

  27. “Maybe I’m naive–but as a blue collar guy it seems to me that those who are paid out of the tithing funds of the church to teach young people — the vast majority of whom are children of the Kingdom — ought to at least be striving to live up to their covenants. Is that really too much to ask?”

    I agree almost 100% (I think all them the kids are children of the Kingdom, even if they aren’t on the records of the LDS church). My problem isn’t asking the faculty to have and live values. My problem is that I’m not sure a temple recommend is the way we get there. I’d much rather have my children instructed by a kind individual who donates time to the community, goes the extra mile to help students be successful, but drinks the occasional green tea, than have my children taught by say Brad Wilcox. I’m just not sure the temple recommend is the right litmus test, in its current form.

    Also, Taiwan Missionary, I have probably contributed to some of the unkind dialogue above. I apologize. I can do better.

  28. Chadwick,

    My sense is that the vast majority of folks who have a temple recommend are the kind of people you describe–sans the green tea. What we want at BYU are those kind of people–who also have a firm testimony of the restoration. Ethics alone is not powerful enough to ground the students in the gospel–there must be doctrine. And even more importantly, there must be the witness of the spirit–and that is less likely to occur when the faculty is less committed than it should be to the gospel covenant.

  29. Chadwick:

    Thank you for your gracious comment, but it was not you I had in mind ?. It is others in this comment thread who have in my opinion engaged in the kind of on-line bullying and arrogance that we claim to dislike at BCC.

    I for one have appreciated your comments.

  30. All this baseless murmuring against byu faculty, indulging in hearsay or lazy inferences about their inferred “unfaithfulness.” Sounds like we need more ethics, if anything.

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