Two-thirds of BYU-Idaho Pathway employees temporarily remain in Rexburg

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BYU-Idaho President Clark Gilbert when it was announced he would head the new BYU Pathway Worldwide program on Feb. 7. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

REXBURG — Brigham Young University-Idaho Pathway employees won’t be required to make an immediate move to Salt Lake City after all.

“While it was a surprise to many of us, I believe that as an organization it really falls in line with what we’ve been told from the beginning,” Pathway and BYU-Idaho online advising manager Steve Thomas said.

Since the announcement of BYU Pathway Worldwide on Feb. 7, local Pathway employees were invited to move down to new headquarters in Salt Lake City. BYU-PW is a part of a new global educational initiative for the LDS Church Educational System, but was originally started in Rexburg as BYU-Idaho’s Pathway program in 2009.

BYU-PW is an affordable and flexible way for students to earn college credit online and through local gatherings. The program has nearly 500 sites in 50 countries and has served 57,000 students.

At the time of the initiative’s announcement, finer details of the operation weren’t finalized. With an announcement two weeks ago plans have evolved, and now some 35 employees will split into two groups to make the transition.

“Instead of the entire Pathway organization moving down, what they have done is they have invited about a third of the organization to move down this summer,” Thomas said. “Two-thirds of us stay behind while we keep that close connection with BYU-Idaho.”

Pathway communication manager Andy Cargal said the first set of employees is likely to be moved down by June or July before BYU-PW launches Aug. 1. The rest will be joining them in 2018.

“We need to be prepared for multiple changes, so while this is a big one it’s still projected that the entire organization will be down there by July 2018. There’s more of a strategic approach now,” Thomas said.

Those who will be making the first move include the president, first vice president, the IT and systems team and the field operations team.

Next year’s group includes the communication department, advising, student services, curriculum, dean of students, missionary support, and the other vice president.

Cargal said it was originally planned that employees would all move at the same time. He said one of the primary reasons plans are shifting is because of budget considerations. It would be less financially taxing not to expend Pathways resources or funds with a massive move of its employees.

“Every employee who’s going down, they’re in the process of marketing their homes. They’re starting that process and such right now. There is a decent amount of time to sell your home and then find a new home and things. It’s flexible based on people’s schedules and when homes sell,” Cargal said.

Thomas said the department needs to stay closely connected to BYU-Idaho and specifically the services and support department.

“We have a lot of student employees who work for us, and we have close ties and connections to other organizations across BYU-Idaho,” Thomas said. “I’m personally grateful for the opportunity to stay a little bit longer so that we can really smooth out these services that we’ll provide to the Pathway Worldwide students.”

Cargal said it may be a more of a challenge to operate since the team will be separated, but they are willing to make it work. He said the groups have planned to meet in person which may mean travel for the SLC group, or Rexburg group.

“We’ll just collaborate in different ways for that year, we’ll do things through virtual connections. There’s also plans for the team that’s in Salt Lake and the team that’s in Rexburg to meet live for team meetings and other things pretty regularly,” Cargal said. “We’ll just have to work a little harder to keep that collaboration going, but we’ll certainly make sure that happens.”

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