PathwayConnect (formerly called Pathway) is a low-cost, one-year educational opportunity that combines online courses with local gatherings. Participants gain valuable skills that will serve them throughout their lives. As a program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, students will also receive the spiritual benefits of a gospel-incorporated education. Brigham Young University-Idaho has greatly helped and influenced the development of PathwayConnect.
Inspired leadership and innovative education have been fundamental qualities in the history of BYU-Idaho and PathwayConnect. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been offering educational opportunities to students in Rexburg, Idaho, for more than 120 years. What started as an elementary school in 1888 has now blossomed into a four-year university that serves thousands of students across the world.
For years, Church and school leaders have recognized the need for educational opportunities to extend beyond the city limits of Rexburg and into the far reaches of the Earth.
In 1971, Henry B. Eyring, then president of Ricks College, declared the following in his inaugural address:
"We must also find ways for this college to serve young people whose needs are shaped by a great variety of cultures and situations, and who may not be able to come to this campus. We will find direct ways to move the blessing of education ... from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere."
PRESIDENT HENRY B. EYRING
Inaugural Response, December 1971
Nearly 30 years later, in his own inaugural address, David A. Bednar stated:
"It will be necessary for us ... to serve ever better the thousands of students we have on campus while simultaneously reaching out to bless the lives of tens of thousands of young Latter-day Saints throughout the world... We must learn to assist and bless institute students and other LDS youth in Rhode Island and Rome while effectively serving our students on campus in Rexburg."
PRESIDENT DAVID A. BEDNAR
Inaugural Response, February 1998
Kim B. Clark, president of BYU-Idaho from 2005–2015, had this to say in his inaugural address:
"I’m convinced that we will find new ways to use information technology, new ways to reach more students and to deepen the learning experiences of those we touch … In these experiences students will teach one another in new and powerful ways. The capacity to educate effectively across time and across space will allow us to leverage the capacity of the university and reach many more young people."
PRESIDENT KIM B. CLARK
Inaugural Response, October 2005
In 2009, BYU-Idaho introduced PathwayConnect, a one-year program designed to help Church members begin working toward their educational and other personal goals. This unique program utilizes the flexibility of online learning while also incorporating a weekly gathering with other students — a combination between traditional campus-based and online educational platforms. What started as a humble pilot program of three locations in the United States serving 50 students has emerged into a system of more than 646 worldwide sites, operating in 77 countries and 43 U.S. states. To date, tens of thousands of students have participated in PathwayConnect. As President Eyring suggested, the university has truly found “direct ways to move the blessing of education … from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.”
Since its creation, PathwayConnect has blessed lives more than just academically. Priesthood leaders have utilized PathwayConnect as a tool to help bring Church members back into the open arms of the gospel. Many students express that their testimonies have been nurtured and strengthened through coursework and interaction with others. Hundreds of couples and individuals have also served the Church as Pathway missionaries.
As each semester passes, we continue to see the blessings of PathwayConnect touch the lives of Church members across the world. In 2011, PathwayConnect was introduced on an international level, providing the program to students in Puebla, Mexico, and Christiansborg, Ghana. Since then, international sites have opened in over 77 countries (as of 2017). These international sites vary in culture, climate, and language, but they share the bonds of the gospel and a desire for higher education. PathwayConnect has also extended to over 242 domestic sites within the United States and Canada.
PathwayConnect will continue to open doors of education and hope throughout the world. As the program grows, we will always seek the most efficient ways to serve all who are involved. We have truly seen the hand of the Lord throughout the development and progress of PathwayConnect. He is in charge, and He directs this work. We are excited to see what the future holds for PathwayConnect, and we are confident that, with the Lord’s help, thousands of lives will continue to be blessed.