Moving On from One Legacy to the Next

The College of Humanities’ community joined together to reflect back on the work done by outgoing dean John Rosenberg and outgoing associate dean Gregory Clark and to look forward to the future of the college.

PROVO, Utah (May 29, 2015)—Outgoing dean John Rosenberg and outgoing 1505-71 060associate dean Gregory Clark reflected on their years of service at a Q&A discussion sponsored by the Humanities Center. Its Director, Matt Wickman, moderated the discussion that included faculty, staff, and students.

Wickman, began by asking them about what he considers the three biggest things that happened during Rosenberg’s time as dean, namely the creation of Humanities+, the founding of the Humanities Center, and the College’s leadership in the university-wide project of systematic assessment of student learning. Asking where the initiative on those projects came from Rosenberg stated that they didn’t have a master plan when they started, but that they were not standing without a foundation. Clark followed up Rosenberg’s comments. “[Rosenberg] had a vision to make the college really good and to support faculty in every way and to support students in every way that would make them more self-aware of what they are doing in taking a degree or program in the fields that we study,” he said. Clark also noted that it was Rosenberg’s idea to show students how the humanities can connect to careers that helped shaped the Humanities+ program into what it has now become.

One question asked what perspective they gained on humanities students. In general, one thing they learned about humanities students is that they, as a rule, “are really passionate about what they’re studying but not very strategic about it,” noted Rosenberg. It was this understanding that guided them and their colleagues to step in and help provide a structure for students to see what to expect post-collegiately.

“There are lots of individuals with very different stories,” said Rosenberg, including those described as non-traditional students (i.e., single parents, single mothers and returning students).. Rosenberg said that during monthly breakfasts the deans held with students throughout the semester they learned about the diverse needs of students, including some who, as Clark put, as sometimes “locked out” by the ways we are used to doing our business. Both agreed there is work still to be done.

RosenbergNear the end of the session, one question posed was what the college has done well and what it can do better at building the kingdom of God. Rosenberg responded with “What have you done well and what can you do better at building the kingdom?” Rosenberg emphasized that BYU’s own mission is that of educating the students that are matriculated and that the professors’ responsibility is that of representing the university and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by being the best that they can possibly be in their disciplines. Paraphrasing Elder Maxwell, Rosenberg stated that a “mediocre academic institution is of little value to the Church.”

He reminded those present that they are in a unique position as university professors because they are identified with the Church in very specific ways. Rosenberg then quoted the goal continually expressed by English Department chair Phillip Snyder: “Be men and women of God.” Rosenberg said that this needs to be evident to the people that each of them associates with throughout the world. He said that “there shouldn’t be anybody we engage with around the world – whether members of the Church in foreign countries or colleagues – who would have reason to doubt the power of the Restoration because of our examples.”

The final question asked what they are thinking about as they move forward and Rosenberg answered that, for him, what has lasted are the relationships. It has not been the assessment, the Humanities Center, Humanities+, positions, etc. It has been who the professors have been as people with each other. He also noted that the remarkable thing about working in his position and at the college has been that those who were in that room with him that day “are extraordinary human beings, [they] are kind and giving, and kind and forgiving.” Rosenberg thanked his fellow colleagues for the privilege of working with them by saying, “I am reminded of how remarkable you are as disciples and how easy it is to try to be good when you’re surrounded by so much goodness. So I would just say thank you and bless you for the privilege of working with you.”

–Amelia Wallace (B.A. English ’15)