During President Clark G. Gilbert’s inaugural response, he expressed the love the faculty members have for the students.
“One of the hallmarks of BYU-Idaho is the personal investment of faculty who unapologetically build their focus on teaching and advising students,” President Gilbert said. “That this institution has been able to expand so dramatically while preserving this individual attention is a testament to the university’s design and to the character of the faculty.”
Diane Soelberg, Music Department chair, said that at the beginning of the hiring process, the Music Department wants to know the applicant’s commitment to students.
“From the time a student comes to audition to become a part of a music program, till the time they walk through the graduation line and receive their diploma, we’re always very interested in their welfare and their progress,” Soelberg said.
Andra Hansen, a Communication Department faculty member, said that to her, being a teacher is an honor.
“The students are so energetic and so alive, and they are about to go off and do all this cool stuff, and they’re thankful and kind,” Hansen said. “It is the luckiest job in the world if you keep your angle on that.”
Hansen said she feels that being clear about what matters most on the job, the students can keep teachers from feeling overwhelmed.
“I try to remember that each of my students is a unique individual with strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears and that there is more going on in their lives than school,” said Christopher Lowry, a Psychology Department faculty member.
Eric Embree, a Communication Department faculty member, said the faculty feels it is their mission to teach the rising generation, even though they have the potential to be making more money and living more exciting lives.
“Central to a good learning environment is people have to know they are safe and they are cared for,” Embree said. “I know that all of the teachers here on campus are — I haven’t met one that wasn’t — loving and empathetic and student-focused.”
Emily Harmon, a sophomore studying psychology, said she felt loved and uplifted when religion faculty member Ryan Gardner took the time to serve her when she was diagnosed with a medical condition during Winter Semester 2015.
“After class, he sat down with me and just talked,” Harmon said.
Through tears and a trembling voice, Gardner listened to Harmon explain her situation and helped her gain an eternal perspective, Harmon said.
Harmon said she felt he treated her as the Savior would.
Hansen said she works to help students feel validated and safe in her classes by genuinely listening and taking their perspective seriously. Instead of telling them how to think and feel, she said she wants her students to feel that she trusts them to have their own opinion.
“Students are walking around with a lot,” Hansen said. “They are carrying a lot of baggage — good and bad — but it’s heavy.”
She said keeping in mind students’ individual situations helps her to not look past the person and only see deadlines.
“We are the lucky ones,” Hansen said. “We are lucky to be their teachers, and to get paid to do what we do. It is a privilege.”