Richard Osguthorpe
Richard Osguthorpe
Read Time: 4 minutes

In many ways, Richard Osguthorpe grew up in the McKay School, and education is practically a family business. His mother, Lolly, taught in Provo-area schools for many years, and his father, Russell, was a distinguished McKay School professor prior to his retirement in 2013. Osguthorpe himself worked as a French teacher following his own graduation from BYU, but even as an undergraduate, he was drawn to the research side of education and what he calls “the joy of seeking.” He received master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan, then spent nearly 15 years at Boise State University, preparing teachers and exploring (among other topics) his major research interest, the moral work of education. He eventually served as dean of BSU’s College of Education.

Osguthorpe brought that leadership, influence, and perspective to the McKay School in 2019, continuing his research, teaching an influential undergraduate education class, and indulging his bone-deep devotion to BYU sports. He misses his regular access to rafting Idaho’s Payette River but continues to seek time on flowing water wherever he finds it. He and his wife, Gwen, also a BYU graduate, have four children.

We asked Dean Osguthorpe ten questions, ranging from silly to serious, to help all of us get to know him a little better. Here they are.

If someone offered to take you to lunch anywhere on campus, where would you go and what would you order?
Jamba Juice, for a Large Peach Perfection

Osguthorpe and his family river rafting
Osugthorpe family river rafting, courtesy of Gwen Osguthorpe

Why is whitewater rafting your favorite leisure activity?
I love everything about being on a river: being in constant motion; floating aimlessly on a calm current; feeling the contrast of hot sun and ice cold water; navigating unpredictable rapids; coming face to face with a wall of water and punching through it (or climbing over it); being at one with the rhythm of a long wave train; hitting the perfect line; etc.  

Do you have a “guilty pleasure”? What is it?
Donuts and pastries

What is your vision for the McKay School as you take the reins as dean?
I want the McKay school to be a world-renowned and heaven-blessed school of education. We have to be excellent in undergraduate teacher education and clinician preparation, graduate education, and research and external funding. We have to excel in those areas to have the reputation we want and to call ourselves world renowned; and we’ve got to be good in our partnerships.
But that is all encapsulated in the mission of this university, to assist others in their quest for perfection and eternal life. That’s why I came here. That’s a profound part of me not just as a member of the church, but as someone who, in a lot of ways, grew up in the McKay School.

Osguthorpe and two of his children at a BYU football game
Richard Osguthorpe with two of his children at a BYU football game, courtesy of Gwen Osguthorpe

What are the greatest BYU sports moments you’ve ever witnessed?
All of these tie for making me scream and jump up and down uncontrollably.
In person: Ty Detmer scrambling all over the field and then completing a pass for a touchdown (with his chin all stitched up) in the win over Miami in 1990—first to Matt Bellini and then again to Mike Salido.
On television: Bill Schoepflin’s blocked punt with about 15 seconds left in the 1980 Holiday (Miracle) Bowl followed by Jim McMahon’s Hail Mary to Clay Brown (I must have reenacted both plays a thousand times with my brothers).
On radio: Danny Ainge’s coast-to-coast last second layup to beat Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen of the 1981 NCAA Tournament (I was attending a Church activity that night and listening via a small portable radio).
Extra-special: The 2002 Women’s Basketball team advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in program history with an upset over 3-seed Iowa State. My 
favorite play was my sister Lisa drawing an offensive foul
on Iowa State’s star player with under a minute to play.

What’s one question you would like to ask current McKay School students?
How are you doing spiritually?

What’s one message you have for McKay School undergraduates and graduate students?
God has a work for you to do that only you can do.

Why do you enjoy research so much?
I love trying to examine questions that we don’t have answers for. I guess I’m curious, in a way that kind of pushes me to examine the unknown. Some would say, ‘All you do is become an expert in this little tiny thing, and the impact you have is going to be so minuscule’—but that that’s not an obstacle for me. I love to discuss. I love to talk about things and generate ideas. My mentor, Gary Fenstermacher, used to say ‘I’m in the idea business.’ I love ideas. No one can give you an idea and have it be your own. You can only come up with an idea yourself, and I love coming up with ideas. I love the spark that’s required for that. I love that process of receiving inspiration.

Osguthorpe Family
Osguthorpe family, courtesy of Gwen Osguthorpe

What would your children say are a few phrases you always use?
Try your hardest, do your best, have fun, and remember that I love you-hoo! (the “you-hoo” is exclaimed over and over in sing-song voice)

Is there a random or unexpected thing you’re good at that you’d like to share with us? Any tips to help us get good at it, too?
I can make a snapping noise with my toes. It requires a lifetime of daily effort and practice.

For more on Dean Osguthorpe, watch for the fall issue of McKay Today magazine.