BYU Pres: Focus First on Academics

BYU Pres: Focus First on Academics

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- New Brigham Young University President Cecil O. Samuelson said he will focus first on academics rather than new facilities.

"As I consider where I might best focus my directional energies here at BYU, I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to what I call our soft or academic infrastructure. I want it to be as solid as the wonderful physical or hard infrastructure this beautiful, well-equipped and appointed campus is," Samuelson said.

Samuelson spoke to faculty and staff during BYU's annual University Conference on Tuesday.

He addressed questions he said he has received frequently since beginning his new job, including where his attention would be focused as a new president.

He also said leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are aware that most faculty and staff at BYU are paid less than many of their national peers.

"The board (of trustees) is unapologetic in its view that an element of sacrifice continues to have importance as a component of the offering we make in our BYU service," Samuelson said.

"It is vital to note, however, that they will do all in their power to insulate us from the financial threats and crises so common in the first half of our institutional history," he said.

Samuelson said he doesn't expect to see enrollment limits at BYU "liberalized" in the near future.

"I can say that we will want to look even more closely at the questions of how we better prepare our students before they come, how we better advise and help them determine ... their majors and courses of study," he said.

The university has "an obligation and opportunity to continue to raise the bar ... on what we expect of our students. This includes their understanding and personal endorsement of their honor code commitments," Samuelson said.

Samuelson also said the fact that his sister, Jan Samuelson Scharman is vice president of Student Life, does not run afoul of the university's anti-nepotism policy.

BYU policy does not allow administrators to hire family members or determine their salary, but Scharman was in place before Samuelson's arrival, and her salary is determined by the board.

University policy does allow siblings to work together at the administrative level with board approval, which Samuelson said he has.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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