You may be surprised to learn that over eighty professors from other colleges on campus teach religion classes each year. These colleagues are part of the transfer professor program initiated by the university in 1973. At that time, Dallin H. Oaks, then president of the university, saw this as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of religious education in all sections of the university. Before then, a few select individuals taught religion classes, but in 1973 a greater number of qualified faculty from other colleges began teaching. The percentage of classes taught by transfer professors varies but has averaged 20 percent for the most recent years.
The selection of transfer professors begins each fall semester when the dean of Religious Education meets with the other college deans to discuss individuals they wish to nominate as transfer professors for the coming year. The qualifications include a desire on the part of the nominated professor, demonstrated high teaching ratings, and availability. The nominees typically agree to teach one or more religion classes each year for a three-year period. Transfer professors usually teach a Book of Mormon class, but they may also teach other courses if invited. Once nominated, each transfer professor participates in an orientation program. Then, during the school year, the college provides regular in-service training and support from college consultants. The college is committed to the success of the transfer professors.
Religious Education measures the success of the program by monitoring the effect it has on the individual transfer professor and the student responses to the professor and the class. While the program has proven very successful, it is not without its challenges. Not all transfer professors are equally prepared to direct an in-depth study of the scriptures. Religious Education recognizes this challenge and provides regular preservice, intervention, and support services.
At our recent university conference, we gave the 2010 Outstanding Transfer Professor Award to Kristin Gerdy, a professor of law, who has taught a religion class for the past several years. Her students have consistently given her the highest ratings and expressed their appreciation for her service. She represents the best of the transfer professor program.
The transfer professor program will remain an important part of religious instruction at Brigham Young University. The program has given religious instruction the central position that President Oaks envisioned so long ago. It has also strengthened faculty across the university, broadened the experience for our students, and complemented the work of Religious Education.
Thank you for your sustaining interest in and support of Religious Education.
Dennis A. Wright
Associate Dean of Religious Education