BYU-Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert will leave his post to become the commissioner of the Church's new global higher-education organization, BYU–Pathway Worldwide, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf announced during a press conference Tuesday.
The new higher-education program will encompass all online degrees and certifications offered by the Church Educational System (CES) and offer courses to students around the world.
"We have felt that now is the right time to give increased focus and direction to Pathway and online higher education in the Church," President Uchtdorf said, according to Mormon Newsroom. "Pathway was created to make college educational opportunities available to those who otherwise would not have them. Pathway is a bridge into the world of online college education and a pathway to opportunities for a successful livelihood. The program combines online learning with religious education in local institutes or meetinghouses in an environment of faith, grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Patterned after the rapidly growing BYU–Idaho Pathway program that began in 2009, the new program will include programs like English language certification and technical and skills-based certificates in addition to online degree programs and will be accredited through CES institutions.
The new program will also serve the 37,000 students already enrolled in the program, according the Deseret News, and will also take over the 497 sites from the former Pathway program.
With experience as the CEO of Deseret Digital Media, president of Deseret News, and president of BYU–Idaho, Gilbert was chosen to head the new and expanding program.
"Based on the rapid growth of the Pathway program, the educational needs across the Church and the need to work with other Church institutions to make this work, it is the right time to expand Pathway,” Gilbert said, according to Mormon Newsroom. “We are part of a worldwide Church, and there are members all across the world who are ready for this.”
At the press conference, President Uchtdorf also expressed the need for this program, calling it "a hidden treasure in the Church now is the right time," according to the Deseret News.