Dean James P. Porter
In the October 2000 LDS General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke about “the challenge to become.” He said, “In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something” (emphasis added). In the College of Life Sciences, we seek to aid our students in their quest to become something. We recognize that the possibilities for becoming are almost as numerous as the number of our students. Whether it be in the home as a mother or father, in the Church as an active participating member, in the community as a volunteer or leader, or in the workforce as an employee or employer, we hope that our efforts here in the college will make a positive difference in the development of our students.
When I was growing up, I never thought I would become a dean. I didn’t even know what a dean was. When I started as a student at BYU, I thought I would become an electrical engineer. It didn’t take long before I found out that I didn’t like electricity and I didn’t like engineering. When I returned from my LDS mission, I changed my major to zoology. I thought I would become a physician. By the time I was a senior, I was married with two children and began to wonder if the physician’s lifestyle was right for me and my family. I never applied to medical school. Instead I opted to go to graduate school. I thought I would become a college professor. Nine years and five more children later, after obtaining M.S. and Ph.D. degrees and getting three years of post-doctoral experience, I finally became a professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Thirteen years after that, in 1998, I joined the faculty at BYU. Since then I have been asked to become a department chair, then an associate dean, and then three months ago I was asked to become the dean. So, why this brief recounting of my life? I wanted to illustrate that we are never done becoming. Becoming is a process, as is our quest for perfection and eternal life. Becoming requires sound decision-making, critical thinking, hard work, faith, and grace. We hope our students leave the College of Life Sciences with the skills and experience needed to become something good.
James P. Porter
Dean of Life Sciences