Summarized by Kent Larsen
Changes Ahead for Ricks As It Becomes BYU-Idaho
Salt Lake Tribune 22Jun00 D3
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- At a news conference yesterday announcing
that Ricks College would become a four-year institution and change
its name to BYU-Idaho, details of some of the changes at the campus
were revealed. Among the changes are plans to drop Ricks' junior
college athletic program, which has won several championships, and
add several bachelor degree programs to the school.
In the news conference, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said
that the athletic program in Rexburg would be limited to intramural
competition. Explaining why the program was being dropped, he said,
"It's too much money."
While the school will add bachelor degrees, it will not offer
graduate degree programs, President Hinckley said. Ricks had offered
bachelor degrees once before, when it became a four-year college for
an eight year period beginning in 1948.
Hinckley added that the changes would happen gradually, "BYU-Idaho's
move to four-year status will be phased in over a period of time and
accomplished in such a way as to preserve the school's autonomy and
identity. Undoubtedly, some changes to the campus will be necessary.
However, they will be modest in nature and scope." Ricks has recently
undergone extensive new construction and renovation that have
prepared it well for its new role. The school currently has 8,600
The LDS Church's commissioner of education, Elder Henry B. Eyring of
the Quorum of the Twelve and a former president of Ricks, will
continue to supervise current Ricks President David Bednar. Eyring
said that in spite of the changes Ricks/BYU-Idaho will continue to
have a unique spirit. "Ricks has always been seen as a place where
students could come with a little more expectation of nurturing and
personal attention than they might have with other institutions,"
Eyring said. "That spirit has been there and surely will continue."
The change to four-year status will relieve some of the pressure on
BYU, the Church's higher-education flagship, which turns away about
27 percent of those that apply. The Church has two other institutions
of higher education, BYU-Hawaii and the LDS Business College in Salt
Lake City. It also runs several high school level institutions such
as the Church College of New Zealand and Benemerito de las Americas
in Mexico City.
Ricks was established in 1888 as the Bannock Stake Academy, one of a
series of high-school level academies that the Church started to
provide education for members. Other academies included Brigham Young
Academy in Provo (now BYU), Brigham Young Academy in Logan (now Utah
State University), Weber Academy (now Weber State University) and
several others. The LDS Church closed or transferred all of the
Academies except for BYU and Ricks by the middle of the last century.
Ricks' name changed several times, to the Fremont Stake Academy in
1898 and then Ricks Academy in 1903 to honor Thomas E. Ricks, the LDS
pioneer that started Rexburg and who was then president of the
Bannock Stake. When the school started offering college-level
courses, its name changed to the Ricks Normal College, and in 1923,
it became simply Ricks College.
But shortly after the experiment with four-year status ended in 1956,
LDS Church officials considered moving Ricks to Idaho Falls or even
closing the school. A campaign by local Church leaders and area
residents convinced them to keep the school.
The transition schedule is still being worked on. Ricks/BYU-Idaho has
made commitments for a 2000-2001 junior college athletics
competitions that it will keep. Elder Eyring also indicated that it
will take a year or more to move to a four-year operation.