Air Mail: Traveling the Globe with Rex Facer
Bespectacled and bow-tied, Flat Facer—a riff on 1964’s Flat Stanley—explores the world in an envelope.
Rex Facer, however, needs a bit more room than his paper equivalent when traveling internationally. But that hasn’t stopped the MPA professor from building a globally focused career and helping BYU students do the same.
On a recent trip to Ghana, Facer led a group of twenty-five students from the MPA, accounting, and MBA programs. The students completed six different projects in an orphanage, a school, and a hospital during their stay. The trip is annual event, focusing on helping organizations in Ghana gather the tools and resources needed to fulfill their missions. And there are tangible benefits for the students too. “The students get to apply the things they’ve been learning in the classroom in a real-world setting,” Facer explains.
Watching students utilize classroom principles in the field wasn’t the only memorable part of the trip. Meeting with members of the LDS Church in Accra, Ghana, was a special highlight, Facer says. “We were challenged to see with African eyes and hear with African ears,” he says. “That’s what I’ll remember the most.”
Facer’s next project is also internationally focused. He’s working with a United Nations development program to promote civil service reform in central Asia. Thirty countries are participating. One of his contributions was delivering a lecture in Taiwan about the important principles that should guide every organizational decision: agency, accountability, and agape, the Greek word for concern for others. Facer says he was inspired by the unique perspective that members of the BYU MPA program share.
When he’s not working to improve the public sector around the world, Facer enjoys fly fishing, sailing, and spending time outdoors. Facer combines work with hobby when he takes all incoming MPA students rafting on the Snake River for orientation. After riding the rapids, Facer treats his students to some of his famous Dutch-oven cooking. “I love giving people an eating experience that’s different,” he says.
A member of the faculty for fourteen years, Facer’s favorite part of the job is watching students understand things they previously had no idea existed. “That’s what gets me up in the morning—that I get to learn and interact with incredibly bright and capable students,” Facer says. “They continue to amaze me.”
And that devotion goes both ways. It was MPA students who originally dreamed up Flat Facer, sketching the real Facer and cutting out around the edges to make a mobile professor. They regularly document Flat Facer’s adventures on social media with the hashtags #FlatFacer and #BYUMPA.
Regardless of how he travels—by plane or by envelope—it is clear Rex Facer has put his stamp on the MPA program.