Summit

11Apr07

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For some reason I subscribe to BYU-Idaho’s Summit Magazine. I don’t know why. The only magazine I recall subscribing to is Food and Wine, and that was to help raise money for a local middle school.

But I don’t mind Summit because it is free, and it is always nice to see something in my otherwise empty mailbox at work.

I have a sneaking suspicion that sending this publication to Alumni, for free, and sometimes without their being aware that they subscribed to it, is for the purpose of raising money. All colleges seem to do it. My father who graduated from the University of Washington decades ago receives a magazine monthly, and my Mother also receives stuff from BYU Central Command (BYU Provo Campus).

But what I find interesting is what these three emphasize in their publications is what they think will put perspective donors in a charitable mood.

For instance my father’s al ma mater seems to focus on the academic and professional accomplishments that are happening at the UW. Articles will highlight important research that faculty members are doing, conferences that they have participated in, or will feature prominent figures that gave addresses recently at the university. On the whole you get the idea that the University of Washington believes that people will be most likely to donate when they see that the school is committed to preparing students to enter and contribute to the professional world, or that the university is making a serious contribution to society.

BYU’s magazine is similar although it will highlight General Authorities that have recently addressed the student body, but will still include what is going on academically at the University.

The thing is that though I have not been to either school, from looking at their official publications to alumni, you get an idea for what these schools value. The University of Washington, much like other big name public universities, wants to let everyone know that their highest priority are the contributions that they are making to the business world and academia. BYU is focused on the development of the whole person, and reassures readers that LDS values are still central to that end, and the school is still committed to providing the best secular education for the tithe money spent.

Then there is BYU Idaho. In past issues of Summit, including the one I got this morning, articles generally do not discuss anything professional or academic. There is hardly a word said about new programs that are added, or the professional contributions that faculty and graduates are making. The focus is on the Ricks/BYU-I experience.

Whoever is in charge of this magazine must in part believe that those who donate look back with warm feelings of nostalgia on whatever amount of time they spent at Ricks/BYU-I.

Articles highlight devotional addresses and submissions by faculty and alumni focus on how BYU-I strengthened their family or how Ricks occupies a special place in their hearts even decades after attending.

There is rarely mention made of research, or even how professors are innovating as the school is always rethinking education.

The focus is, those who attended had a unique experience and because of that experience, Ricks/BYU-I occupies a special place in their heart, and that if we can show that the same thing is happening today as in the past, alumni will generously contribute to the university.

Okay, at this point you might think that I am being overly critical and that I might harbor feelings of bitterness towards one of the “Lord’s” schools, but I feel that a university education should be more then just focusing on spiritual well being. I believe that the University should provide a person with a set of skills that will enable them to either be gainfully employed in what ever profession they choose, or that their education will prepare them for graduate studies which will then lead to work with in the field of higher education or in the world of business.

All that I am saying is that if I am going to donate to a university, I want to be sure that money will go towards preparing people to enter the workforce as ethical, hard working, capable people as opposed to religious zealots who are really good at showing you they brought their scriptures with them. If I don’t see a professional focus in the publications, what am I supposed to think?

Oh well, I guess that I will continue to enjoy others’ walk down memory lane and a recap of the latest devotional in Summit magazine, but will always be an ardent supporter of my al ma mater, BYU-Hawaii a.k.a. the Lord’s University.

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