“The product of the mind is our business,” said BYU Academic Vice President Brent W. Webb in an address to faculty on Monday. “[However,] it seems that it is more the heart than the mind that defines us.”

Speaking at the University Conference Faculty Session, Webb said the only way to be successful in any endeavor at BYU is to be both thoughtful and heartfelt.

“Especially at BYU, the Lord needs the willing mind – He needs your extraordinary intellect, shaped and sharpened through extensive study,” he said. “He also needs your heart."

Combining the heart and the mind is the only way to fulfill the mission of BYU, he said.

“As a university we will not achieve our mission to ‘assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life’ without bringing our hearts and minds to bear,” Webb said. “If we approach our assignment here without both mind and heart, BYU will be only a superb university. But our charge and aspirations are much grander."

Brent W. Webb
BYU Academic Vice President Brent W. Webb speaking at the Faculty Session of University Conference. (Photo credit: Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

To reach that grander aspiration, Webb mentioned several ways faculty can accomplish more by serving with both the heart and mind.

Faculty who are guided by their hearts are profoundly, energetically interested in the learning of their students.

“One of the many ways this is manifest, this profound interest in students, is through careful attention to program learning outcomes. Students should understand what they can expect from a program, and faculty should understand how their courses contribute to those expectations and we should measure how we are doing.

“Our next step in pursuing that strategy is the exploration of a robust approach to peer evaluation to teaching. This year we are assembling a task force to begin to undertake the development of an approach for effective and efficient peer evaluation of teaching…. We will seek to develop a principle-based methodology that can be adapted to disciplines across campus.”

Faculty who are motivated by the heart are more interested in what they give than what they get.

“So many of you could be elsewhere – with a higher salary, more space, more time for research, more equipment – but you have chosen BYU, often at some sacrifice. Despite sacrifices, I believe we have compensatory help. With increasing frequency it seems our faculty and students are recognized nationally and internationally for their accomplishments.

“When new department chairs and deans are appointed I tell them that they will deal with a variety of issues.... I also try to reinforce that while all of these matters are important, the single most important decision they will make will be their recommendation of new faculty hires and the subsequent development of that faculty member.”

Faculty who serve with the heart are committed and equipped to bring Heaven’s influence into their interactions with students.

“Learning seems to flourish when it is cultivated in an inspired environment…. My sense is that [the Board of Trustees] are most keenly interested in our ability to build faith in the students. That sets you apart from any other faculty body in the world.

“The beauty of BYU is that each of us approaches this dual stewardship in our own way, and the genius is that students experience multiple personalities and multiple approaches to faithful learning. Imagine the impact on a student who sees a faculty member who has distinguished herself in her discipline and who is thoughtful and open about her faith.”

Faculty who serve with heart seek and see the influence of the Holy Ghost in their work.

“If this place is as central to the building of the kingdom as has been declared in so many prophetic statements, we should not doubt that the windows of heaven will be flung open to permit the flow of knowledge in our stewardships. It strikes me that this is perhaps the most critical reason that the Lord requires both the heart and a willing mind in the important work we do here.”

BYU Online Courses

With direction from President Worthen, BYU has been developing online courses for matriculated campus students as part for their regular course load and tuition, Webb said. For Fall 2016 Semester, there are 31 BYU Online courses, in seven colleges and Student Life, representing 49 sections, with 2,284 students enrolled, so far.

“We are determined to ensure that these courses preserve the unique and special BYU experience,” Webb said. “These courses are being developed as a partnership between faculty in departments across campus, [which] have the disciplinary experience, [which] Continuing Education who has the online design and pedagogical experience and [which] provides support to academic departments for course development and delivery.”

As BYU Online expands, Webb said, they hope to achieve President Worthen’s goal that by 2020 all entering freshman at BYU could take 15 credits online toward gradation.

Webb’s full address will be archived on speeches.byu.edu.