REXBURG — Henry J. Eyring has spoken to the public for the first time since the announcement he would be the next president of Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Although he’s new to the position he isn’t new to the university.
“My father was called to be the president of Ricks College (the predecessor to BYU-Idaho) in 1971, and in many respects this place is unchanged in its spirit and in its mission,” Eyring says.
“Our challenge is not one of shrinkage, but one of growth.”
At a news conference held Thursday, Eyring spoke about BYU-Idaho’s mission amid major growth.
“I’m in a position where our challenge is not one of shrinkage, but one of growth. We have been growing rapidly,” Eyring says. “We have to worry about classrooms being big enough, and fortunately those preparations have been very well made, particularly with our expansion into online learning.”
Eyring has been a vice president at the university for 11 years. His wife, Kelly, says they will do their best to lead the university as they transition from the current President Clark Gilbert and his wife, Christine.
“We won’t be the Gilberts. We do love the Gilberts and their family is amazing, but we will do our best to enjoy the students and to encourage them and to make them part of our family,” Kelly Eyring says.
Gilbert is leaving to lead BYU-Pathway Worldwide, a new educational entity led by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. The initiative originated from the Rexburg-based Pathway program.
“If we keep it here, that will work just fine for a year or two, but in five years we would have regretted that decision. BYU-Pathway Worldwide is a worldwide organization,” Gibert says.
He said some 35 employees in Idaho have been invited to make the transition to Salt Lake.
“There are two groups that have been invited to be part of this organization. The existing Pathway organization, and then the Pathway and online degree advising organization,” Gilbert says. “We plan on being fairly flexible to allow for different family circumstances.”
Gilbert is leaving with the message that it’s not about an individual’s legacy or new agenda. He said he hopes the students will remember how involved the Gilberts were as a family in serving the university.
“I hope that the students of BYU-Idaho will remember that I loved Sister Gilbert and that I love my children and that I was great father and a devoted husband, and that they would see that families can work,” Gilbert says.
Eyring says he supports all that Gilbert has done in his time serving as president from 2015 until now.
“I’ll second every decision that has been made in the last two years. It will be a matter of a steady upward course,” Eyring says.
Gilbert is set to begin his new role in May, and Eyring will begin April 10.