5 reasons you’ll love Clark Gilbert, the new BYU-I president

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Clark Gilbert

Clark Gilbert will officially become BYU-Idaho’s 16th president later this year. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Clark Gilbert, who is currently CEO of Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media and an executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation, will begin his tenure as the next president of BYU-Idaho this April. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the change in a BYU-Idaho devotional this Tuesday.

Gilbert’s name is familiar to some on the BYU-Idaho campus who worked with him at BYU-I before he began his job at Deseret Digital Media. But his name is new to those who started work at BYU-Idaho after he left.

“I’m surprised how many people don’t know him here,” says Robyn Bergstrom, former dean of the College of Business and Communication at BYU-Idaho. “People say ‘Who’s he?’ and I say, ‘What do you mean, ‘Who’s he?’ We love him. I got to feel his passion for the things that he was in charge of when he was here before. I’m excited to have him back on campus and to feel that.”

For those who don’t know Clark Gilbert as well as his old colleagues, here are five reasons to love BYU-Idaho’s newest president.

1. He’s a family man

Clark Gilbert with his family

Clark Gilbert and his family walk across the stage at BYU-Idaho’s devotional last Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Clark Gilbert and his wife, Christine, bring their eight children with them to Rexburg. The oldest, James, is a high school student; the youngest, Claire, is 1 year old.

“When Clark and Christine first came to Rexburg, they had a small number of children, but it was very clear that their family came first,” said Ric Page, who worked with Gilbert as a fellow associate academic vice president at BYU-Idaho. “Part of the benefit of working at BYU-Idaho was that he had more home and family time. They have a firm dedication to their family.”

2. He’s passionate

BYU-Idaho Devotional

Elder Russell M. Nelson speaks to students and faculty at BYU-Idaho Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Clark Gilbert’s associates say he is extroverted and kind with a gift for passionate and candid leadership.

“President Gilbert is a great father and friend,” says BYU-Idaho Advancement Vice President Henry J. Eyring. “He is also tremendously energetic and passionate about his work, regardless of the assignment.”

That passion often translates into great love for those he works with.

“I remember an experience I had when I went with a group of faculty to Deseret Digital,” Bergstrom said. “He had just started. He was showing us around; he was so fun. Then he took us into a private room and kind of broke down and got emotional. He said how much he missed being at BYU-I. Then later he spoke at BYU-Idaho with a passion and love for the Deseret News and for Deseret Digital Media and for everything that he was doing there. He had the same passion for his people there and expressed his love for them.”

3. He’s a visionary

From his time at Harvard to his work at BYU-Idaho to his tenure at Deseret Digital Media, Clark Gilbert has been notably visionary. He studied disruptive innovation at Harvard and helped establish the strategy for BYU-Idaho’s innovative approach to online learning, Pathway.

“He is particularly well-suited to lead BYU-Idaho, having helped President Clark establish the strategy for online learning and the Pathway program,” Eyring said. “He will do great things at the university, as in the past.”

Later at the Deseret News, he took a struggling news outlet and turned it into a thriving media force. Those cases exemplify Gilbert’s strengths as a leader, including a vision that many lack.

“His research specialty at Harvard was disruptive innovation,” Page said. “By its very nature, that discipline tends to look ahead and find a way to change what’s being done or how it’s being done, to better serve our publics. … One of his talents is working with others (at BYU-Idaho) to look ahead, position themselves to meet upcoming needs, and prepare our organization to successfully serve our students.  I expect that we’ll see some very innovative approaches to higher education as we move into the future under his watch.”

4. He’s genuine

The people Gilbert worked with at BYU-Idaho appreciate his down-to-earth demeanor and consider him approachable.

“I mean, I saw this guy shaving on his way to work,” Bergstrom said with a laugh. “Clark is so real. When he was at Deseret Digital Media, he’d call and say, ‘Do you have any good students who want to come down for an internship?’ He’d just call us. He could have worked though any public relations or human resources agencies that he had, but he’d just call.”

5. He listens to the people around him

Elder Russell M. Nelson

President Kim B. Clark and his wife, Sue, look at the group assembled at BYU-Idaho’s devotional Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Despite his strong leadership, Clark Gilbert knows and values the people around him.

“He is such a great leader, but he also builds teams,” Bergstrom said. “He bring people in and counsels with them. That is such an important part of being a president.”

Page noticed that same quality in Gilbert.

“President Gilbert is personable, kind, caring, and he throws himself energetically into everything he does,” Page said. “He’s got a bright mind, but at the same time, he values what the rest of us think and how we view things. He’s a good listener and doesn’t preempt other thoughts by stating his thoughts first. He’s good at allowing free flow of thought before decisions are made.”

To see some of Gilbert’s past public addresses (both spiritual and professional), see the videos and links below.

Gilbert speaks at 2012 LDS Tech Conference

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

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