"The College on the Hill"
A special missionary farewell was held in the Fourth Ward chapel on Sunday, January 28, 1951. Ermel Morton and his wife had been called to a mission in Tonga. They were to take charge of Liahona College, a new Church school. Ermel had served a mission in Tonga from 1936 to 1939. In 1939, he had translated the Book of Mormon into Tongan, and, subsequently, he had assisted in revising and publishing the book. (He returned to Ricks at the conclusion of the mission.)
Peace, from the perspective of being prepared for a national emergency, was part of Gordon Dixon’s devotional address to students and faculty on February 28. In addition to his duties as a faculty member, Dixon was the county director of civil defense and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. “We don’t want to lull ourselves into [a] false sense of security and forget what is happening in Europe and Asia,” Dixon cautioned. “We must become mobilized to a high degree on the home front and [mobilize] our armed forces for defense.” In conclusion, Dixon said that the “strength of the United States lies in its unity and all citizens should be willing to serve in case of national strife.”
Speaking of a false sense of security, Vernon Williams, administration building custodian, said he had checked all doors before he left the building on April 18 and “everything was in order.” Yet someone had a key to the building and the treasurer’s office and knew the combination to the vault. Six hundred dollars in cash was discovered missing from the vault Thursday morning. The thief was never apprehended.
Civic and Church leaders from the Upper Snake River Valley gathered on May 23 in the college cafeteria to discuss how to assist in meeting college needs. President Clarke was present to give an assessment of the college and answer questions. Deciding that an official organization was needed, the group organized as the Ricks College Development Association and elected Delbert Taylor as president. They determined the most immediate need was for a new athletic stadium. Plans for a new stadium already had been drawn, some funds already had been contributed, and some work already was being done, according to Lowell Biddulph, the college athletic director. They decided that they would raise funds, in cooperation with the Ricks Alumni Association, and have the stadium built in time for the fall football season. They also decided to assist with the long-range building program of the college developed by the Church, including an auditorium building, library, dormitories, and campus beautification. The building program had been on the drawing board for many months without any sign of activity, and local community members were uneasy. Members hoped that by showing more organized community support, the Church Board of Education would be more confident about local financial support. There was an attitude that if the stadium was built, momentum would be established that would carry through the rest of the building program.
Along with unease associated with slowness of the campus building program was a general uneasiness about the Korean conflict. Young men from the communities of eastern Idaho, which supplied most young men attending the college, were being drafted. They could get educational deferments under certain conditions, but fewer were seeking the deferment. The college program most affected by the war was football—not necessarily by a decrease in the number trying out, but by the absence of some key players who had gone to war.
John Porter, the fund-raising committee chairman of the development association, announced that July 15, 1951, was the date agreed upon to kick off a drive to raise $50,000 for the stadium. The drive would concentrate on Madison, Fremont, Teton, Jefferson, Clark, Bonneville, and Bingham counties. By far, the largest number of residents lived in Bonneville County. Workers were assigned to each county with all soliciting for funds to be completed by August 1. “Every businessman, professional and farmer benefits through the college either directly or indirectly,” Porter said. “Expenditures by the college in one year exceed a half million dollars.” Furthermore, “if through the stadium and expansion program an additional 200 students are added to the student body this will mean an increase in the faculty of four members and an expenditure of another $100,000 annually.” That the local economy was tied closely to college expansion was well known and not open to academic argument.
The stadium was to be used for more than football games. Stakes in all counties would have access for dance festivals and pageants that could be held at night under floodlights. Additionally, school and civic activities could be planned for the stadium—notably, high school track meets could use the quarter mile track that would be constructed around the football field. The fund-raising committee consisted of Joe Parkinson, Gilbert Larsen, Arthur C. Porter, Fred Smith, Clyde Packer (who solicited former athletes), Stanley Anderson, C.A. Watson as treasurer, and “prominent men in each community.” Despite their best efforts, the goal was not reached by August 1. However, work continued on acquiring funding for the stadium project.
Freshman registration for fall quarter of 1951 was somewhat disappointing. By the time all registration was completed, including short-term agricultural students, the freshman class, while the largest on campus, was still about fifty fewer than the year before. Part of that drop could be ascribed to the Korean conflict.
Special student enrollment was also down from previous quarters. These students were those who took one or two classes at the college, usually during the evening. An effort was made to increase enrollment by increasing the number of extension classes. Hugh Bennion, the director of extension services, pointed out that residency requirements could be met through extension classes. Classes also were offered in both upper and lower division levels. Winter quarter enrollment was considerably better than fall quarter.
Ralph Maughan had left after two seasons as head coach. He was replaced by Berkley “Brick” Parkinson. Parkinson’s football team beat Carbon College and Dixie College, tied Weber Junior College, and lost to Boise Junior College. The appearance of Jay Slaughter’s marching band in their new uniforms costing $3,000 may have been the highlight of that game. Other losses were to Westminster College (Salt Lake City television stations televised the game), Branch Agricultural College, and Carroll College. The basketball team did much better, winning eighteen, losing seven, and coming home with the ICAC championship. The track team under Coach Biddulph, with Max Brown dominating the competition, won the ICAC crown. Gordon Dixon’s boxers continued their winning ways.
In an effort to boost athletic fortunes, Dr. L. Eugene Peterson, who had been assistant football coach for one season, announced the organization of the college Bleacher Athletics Club in the fall. The aims of the club were to “promote athletic scholarships; secure part time work for athletes and build Ricks College athletic programs generally.” Peterson was elected president for the 1951-1952 school year by the other founders: Joe Parkinson, Gilbert Larsen, John Porter, Roy Cole, John Parkinson, Joseph DeMott, Jack Randall, Dr. M.F. Rigby, Dick Smith, Jess Welker, and Berkley “Brick” Parkinson. The present-day Viking Club is the descendent of the Bleacher Athletics Club and continues the tradition of active support for Ricks athletics.
Two new school songs were written and presented during fall quarter. Alma L. Dittmer of the music department wrote “Ricks, Our Alma Mater.” The song, sung by the college choir, was presented to the student body during an assembly on October 10, 1951, and at halftime of the homecoming game against Branch Agricultural College on October 26.
Ricks, Our Alma Mater
Beacon of light and truth, Symbol of valor,
To thee our hearts we raise,
Ricks our Alma Mater, founded by Pioneers
Blessed with faith and vision
Nurtured thru long years by highest aspiration.
When in the days to come, Our paths are severed,
Still may thy light of truth
Lead us on forever, Long may our friendships ties
Strengthen and inspire us
Long may our lives glow—With wisdom, love and purpose.
Oscar A. Kirkham, a member of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was in Rexburg for a stake conference on October 14, 1951. President Kirkham spoke of his love for Ricks College and urged those in the congregation to do all they could to support the school. He recalled his attendance at Ricks Academy as a student and later as a faculty member from 1903 to 1906. He read a song he had written that illustrated the meaning of the school for him:
Dear Old Ricks
Oh, take me back to dear old Ricks
The college on the hill,
And let me sing her songs again
And let me catch the thrill
Of comrades true and teachers dear
I’m longing now for you.
Oh, take me back to dear Old Ricks,
The college on the hill.
Then cheer again for dear old Ricks
And keep her banners high.
There is no school that’s half so dear,
Her love is ever nigh.
I walk again her sacred halls
And sing her happy songs.
No matter where my feet may tread
My heart to her belongs.
Now that the college had graduated two senior classes and the curriculum had been developed to acceptable accreditation levels, President Clarke made application to the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools for full accreditation of the four-year program. After a visit and evaluation by an accreditation team, full four-year degree-granting accreditation was awarded on December 7, 1951.
President Clarke announced in March 1952 that the Church had appropriated $112,000 for a new campus building. The building was to be constructed just east of the administration building. The two-story building would have a large auditorium, stage, classrooms, offices, pipe organ, and balcony. He mentioned the fact that during the past six years the Church had appropriated $400,000 for remodeling existing buildings, new construction, and acquisition of temporary buildings. The athletic stadium also was under construction. Additionally, the college had purchased 160 acres contiguous to campus on the south where the city airport had been located. The airport hanger was “converted into a well equipped dairy barn” and a large dairy herd was developed as part of the agricultural program. The college now owned 260 acres. With the new building added to the campus, the college could reach the “ideal size for a college” of 1,000 to 2,000 students.
Of the graduating class of 1952, more entered high school teaching than any previous class. There was a sharp decline in teachers entering elementary education. High school teachers were paid more than elementary teachers as were all others who held “professional and semi professional jobs,” according to Marriner Morrell, education department chairman. More than half of the thirty-three graduates were expected to enter the teaching profession. One graduate who eventually taught at Ricks College from the class of 1952 was George E. Patterson of Sugar City. Patterson, who was named valedictorian, graduated with a 3.919 average out of a possible 4.000, the “highest grade average on record for a student graduating with a bachelor’s degree.” The salutatorian was Carma Albrechtsen of Salt Lake City, President Clarke’s secretary for two years.
Baccalaureate was held on May 25, 1952, in the tabernacle. Milton R. Hunter, a member of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and noted author of several books dealing with Church theology and history, was the featured speaker. Dr. Henry Eyring, a prominent scientist and dean of the graduate school at University of Utah, was the featured commencement speaker. The usual optimism for the graduates and the college was heightened by the president’s report that included information about new building plans.
When the teachers’ seminar was held prior to beginning the 1952-1953 school year, President Clarke introduced Lorentz Pearson, who would teach agricultural and biological sciences. The addition of another scientist to the faculty meant that majors leading to bachelor of science degrees could be offered in general agriculture, biological sciences, and physics. Other faculty changes for the new school year included Hugh Bennion’s promotion to the position of dean of faculty and Albert A. Pieper becoming a full-time faculty member. Pieper, who had been employed in the business office and taught German classes part time, had received his bachelor’s degree with the class of 1952.
More than thirty football prospects showed up for camp beginning on September 4, 1952. Under the coaching of Berkley “Brick” Parkinson, they won seven of their eight games, losing only to Boise Junior College. Parkinson’s basketball team won an invitation to the NAIA finals in Kansas City, Missouri. They lost their first game and were eliminated from the tournament, but just to get there was an honor. Parkinson also coached the baseball team to a winning season. Gordon Dixon, who was no longer coaching boxing because it had been dropped from the curriculum, had a winning junior varsity basketball team. Max Brown, under Coach Biddulph, wrote a fitting ending to his collegiate running career by meeting the national standard established by the NAIA for the two-mile run and competing in the national track meet in Abilene, Texas. He finished in sixth place. Also representing Ricks at the national meet was Dick Mickelsen, who competed in the low hurdles.
For the fourth year, Ricks was the official training school for the LDS Hospital School of Nursing in Idaho Falls. Each year the program expanded. Forty-three had signed up for the current pre-nursing course. To graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, each student had to complete six quarters of pre-nursing and two-and-one-half years of nursing at the hospital school. Vernetta Hale, the hospital school director, visited with those enrolled in pre-nursing and acquainted them with the LDS Hospital program.
President Clarke announced early in November 1952 that delays had occurred in construction of the new building because of a revision in building plans. The building was to be larger than originally proposed—big enough to hold 1,500 people, rather than 1,000. The estimated building cost was $300,000. Church authorities agreed to appropriate $212,000 of that amount, and the remaining $88,000 would need to be raised locally. Construction was anticipated to start early in the spring of 1953. The local fund drive started on February 1, 1953. The Rexburg and North Rexburg stakes were assessed $30,000 each. The remaining $28,000 would be raised by other stakes in the Upper Snake River Valley. Each ward was assessed an amount based on population. President Clarke and Marriner Morrell had double duty. Not only were they involved with faculty fund-raising efforts, Clarke was president of the Rexburg Stake and headed that stake effort and Morrell was the counselor in the Rexburg North Stake presidency assigned to head that stake’s effort. The Alumni Association, through its new publication Alumnus, encouraged alumni to contribute so that “when you look up College avenue and see the new structure you’ll want to feel you shared in its building, even if it only be a brick or a shingle.”
By mid-March 1953, President Clarke and several faculty members had met with architect William F. Thomas to finalize building plans. Excavation did not start as expected. A “slight delay” was necessitated by the decision to expand the main auditorium from 800 to 1,000 seats. It was reasoned that the college would “expand in the future and the added seating would be necessary.” The plan to construct a brick building was again under consideration. Some Church officials thought the building needed to harmonize with the existing stone buildings. Although alterations would push the building’s cost up, no changes were anticipated in the local share already assessed. President Clarke announced community funds of more than $20,000 already had been raised and the drive was proceeding on schedule.
The basketball team almost had to look for another gym in which to play. Early on February 20, Clifford Anderson, a college janitor, noticed smoke coming from the gymnasium. The fire department responded quickly and extinguished the fire that was burning on the gymnasium floor. Fire Chief Silas Clements said that a small hole had burned in the floor near the water cooler, but would not affect basketball games. The fire started by “spontaneous combustion in a box of sawdust that workmen sanding the gym floor the day before had left on the floor.” Everyone knew that if Anderson had not been alert and the fire department had not responded so quickly that the fire could have been disastrous.
Along with usual spring quarter activities, the Ricks College-Community Symphony performed a benefit concert. The concert, directed by Alma Dittmer, included not only symphonic music, but also the college choir performing music from a recent western Idaho tour. Funds raised were to be placed in the college building fund account and applied toward the new building that was to be built that summer.
Sixty-nine students of the class of 1953 received diplomas at commencement ceremonies on May 28 in the tabernacle. Henry A. Dixon, the president of Weber College, was the featured speaker. There was some disappointment that the new building was not yet under construction, but President Clarke reported that construction would start that summer.
The Alumni Association welcomed graduates into the organization and informed them that their $1 dues would buy them a subscription to Alumnus that would keep them informed about college affairs. The classes of 1903, 1913, 1923, 1933, and 1943 were honored with the class of 1953. No one from the classes of 1903 or 1913 showed up for the annual banquet. President Clarke gave his annual address to alumni titled “Ricks College—An Expanding Institution of Higher Learning.” He reported that cumulative enrollment totaled 1,180, compared to 597 five years ago; students came from sixteen states, territories, and Canada, compared with seven states five years ago; faculty numbered thirty-seven full-time and nine part-time members, compared to twenty full-time and six part-time members five years before; and the current catalog listed 655 courses in the curriculum, compared with 282 five years before—an increase of 373 courses or 132 percent. The college granted sixty-five bachelor’s degrees and four two-year degrees, compared with thirty-three bachelor’s degrees and four two-year degrees in 1952—an increase in graduates of 97 percent. With all that, the fact that the auditorium was not yet being built to accommodate growth still caused worry.
The class of 1908 celebrated its forty-fifth anniversary in May 1953. Remarkably, the fourteen class members and their class adviser, Arthur Porter, Jr., were all still alive. Porter had taught each class member and had kept track of them for the past forty-five years. Another faculty member from forty-five years ago was Nelle Child. She had been their music teacher and had married their class advisor.
A change was announced in the Church educational system organization on July 9, 1953. All Church educational institutions were unified under a single office, with Brigham Young University President Ernest L. Wilkinson as director. He would retain his position as president of BYU and be charged with the administration of Ricks College and all other entities in the Church educational system. President Clarke would retain his position as president of Ricks but would answer to Dr. Wilkinson. Wilkinson would be assisted by vice presidents of religious instruction and business administration and by an executive assistant in charge of general education. He appointed William E. Berrett, William F. Edwards, and Harvey L. Taylor, respectively, to the offices. Appointing President Wilkinson to be the director of the unified system would have far-reaching consequences for Ricks College. At the time, the college alumni directors announced in an August 1953 Alumnus article that “policy wise, many have thought the school is in a better position. Certainly, the church purposes will be served better under the unified program.”
A question asked of the new director of the unified system was “When are you starting the new building?” The architect’s drawings incorporating recent changes were due early in July. Hiring of a building supervisor was being considered by the Church building committee to oversee construction. The building was to start “soon.”
The signing of the armistice on July 23, 1953, ending the Korean conflict brought renewed optimism about college growth. That optimism lasted only a few months.
Perhaps feeling some uneasiness with the new unified system, or maybe just to remind him about Ricks College’s meaning, Hyrum Manwaring wrote a letter, dated July 27, 1953, to President David O. McKay:
"When our counselors and we were doing everything in our power to save Ricks College for the saints of the great state of Idaho, it was your inspired mind and heart that spoke, and saved our wonderful school for the faithful people of this state. History, if it speaks the truth, must record that President David O. McKay did more than any other one man to save our great school. The manifold blessings that come to the excellent youth of this great state through Ricks College in large measure must be attributed to the persistent faith and foresight of President David O. McKay. For what you did in our school’s crucial hour, and what you may do for the future of its growth and development, thousands will rise and call you blessed. This is the sincere testimony of a co-worker, who with grim determination, held the doors open, and borrowed coal for the fires, when most other people pronounced the great school “closed.”. . . We hope we can rejoice together for a great accomplishment that will bless thousands of our growing youth."
President Manwaring wrote a letter, dated August 11, 1953, to Dr. Wilkinson, in which he did some interesting name dropping. He first reminded him that he, too, loved Brigham Young University. He had been a student there sixty years before when the school consisted of a “single building.” He was there when several buildings were built, and he “personally helped make the road and steps that lead to the upper campus. My hands helped build the fence and grandstand of the first athletic field, and place the original ‘Y’ on the mountainside. I was there when the school was made a university, and was a member of the first four-year college class.” After setting the stage, Manwaring turned to Ricks. He noted that when he arrived at Ricks forty years before, a “barren ten-acre city block with a great stone building [stood] alone in the sagebrush.” He helped build buildings and plant trees and grass on the campus. After teaching for fifteen years, he went to George Washington University to complete his doctorate. Before he could finish he was “called back to become president of the college.” What did he come home to?
"I found that the church was eliminating its church schools, and that Ricks College was in the [throes] of death. There was so much to do in the face of this impending fate—we must strengthen our faculty, improve our campus, enlarge our library, reconstruct our courses of study, prepare to better house our students, and get our school fully accredited as a Junior College; and then use every device to try to give it away. . . . [Three times] the state refused to accept it and there seemed no hope of saving it. However, we found that a new spirit was growing toward us in Salt Lake. The next year we graduated nearly a hundred Junior College students, and Presidents David O. McKay and J. Reuben Clark were both present. After our hardship and terrific fight to save our school, my people and I, with tears of joy in our eyes, have never heard sweeter words than those spoken by President Clark. He graciously said: “The people of Idaho need Ricks College, they deserve it; and as far as I am concerned, they can always have it.” It seemed that a resurrection had taken place and new life was born. The next spring, we took our college choir to Salt Lake to sing in Conference. The boys and girls seemed inspired, and sang beautifully. At the close of the meeting, President McKay took my hand in both of his, and said these thrilling words: “President Manwaring, let us never offer Ricks College again to anyone. Let us keep it and run it ourselves. You go home and build a fine little college for the church.” I have never heard words that thrilled me to the soul so much as these. I had stood in the gap for six dreadful years and fought with everything that was in me, and these words were my reward.
"After fourteen years, on my own suggestion, I was retired as president at sixty-seven, and things were turned over to President Clarke. . . .
"In most ways President Clarke has been well supported by the church. A part of our improvement program has taken place. But the school has definitely suffered because of lack of an auditorium and recreational facilities and adequate housing program.
"Because of my deep love for Ricks College, and the great people of Idaho, I sincerely hope that in your new responsibilities you will not forget this great school, and the marvelous people of this great state. If you can help give what we sorely need to maintain a fine little college, you will ever be remembered and blessed by a mighty people and their growing children.
"How I wish you younger men success as you carry on where we older ones must leave off. May the God of Heaven bless you in your efforts to lead the youth of Zion to the “abundant life.” May you personally be blessed with vision, and determination to build a great church school system."
How much effect Manwaring’s letters had can only be surmised. Shortly after commencement of the 1953-1954 school year, President Clarke announced groundbreaking for the new auditorium was scheduled for September 16, 1953. Several hundred students, faculty, and patrons gathered at the appointed hour to witness the groundbreaking ceremony. Several years of planning, fund-raising, and delays seemed to now be in the past. Religious leaders and educators from the Upper Snake River Valley were special guests. President Clarke conducted a short service and a few speeches were given. Joining President Clarke for the ceremonial breaking of the sod were Rexburg Mayor J. Fred Smith, Chamber of Commerce President S.M. Meikle, Alumni President G. Alton Anderson, and President Emeritus Hyrum Manwaring. As the ceremony concluded, the crowd was moved back and, as noted in Alumnus, a “huge carry-all and drag-line rolled onto the site and began excavation.”
Shortly after the basement was dug and some of the foundation prepared, construction stopped. Apparently, the project was being reconsidered. President Clarke had not been notified of any change in the status of the project. No one knew why the stop, or quite what to expect, and soon an atmosphere was created where rumors quickly spread. The rumor that construction was merely halted for the winter months but would continue in the spring seemed to be largely ignored. Rumors that quickly gained credence and spread far and wide were that the college was to be closed or was to be moved to Idaho Falls. Patrons could laugh at the delightful Comedy of Errors presented by the college drama department, but the perceived errors associated with the campus building project could not be laughed away. What might happen to the “college on the hill” had a dampening effect on the Christmas season of 1953.
The new year commenced with the rumor mill cranked up. Even though there were no official announcements about closure or moving the college, everyone knew it was being discussed by the Church Board of Education. Because there was no action on the auditorium building, succumbing to those “in the know” was easy.
The following telegram was sent by Western Union to President David O. McKay on March 17, 1954:
"WE ARE VERY MUCH DISTURBED OVER RICKS COLLEGE BEING MOVED. IT IS OUR HERITAGE, WE WERE BORN AND RAISED HERE AND WANT TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN UNDER ITS INFLUENCE."
It was signed by the 84th Quorum of Seventies, including Grover Hemming, Gilbert McKinlay, Elmo Davenport, Blair Cook, Lawrence Grover, Stanley McCulloch, A.L. Dittmer, and Max Benson as secretary.
President McKay promptly responded with a telegram to Grover Hemming later that same day:
"REST ASSURED THERE WILL BE NO CHANGE IN RICKS COLLEGE - President David O. McKay"
President McKay and Ernest Wilkinson were on campus for graduation exercises on May 23 and 24, 1954. Dr. Wilkinson was baccalaureate speaker and President McKay spoke at commencement and “gave further assurances of the permanency and church support of Ricks College.” He also presented diplomas. President Clarke talked about college progress at commencement and the alumni banquet. Donnell Hunter represented the class of 1954 at the alumni banquet.
Despite official statements, some in the community were sure that the college would be closed. The only way they would be mollified was if auditorium construction resumed. Local civic clubs sent letters to the First Presidency indicating concern for the future of the college. Robert W. Purrington, president of Rexburg Lions Club, wrote on behalf of the club on June 29. He received a reply, dated July 9, 1954, from the First Presidency:
"You will be pleased to know that we have already taken steps for the consummation as soon as possible of improvements that have been outlined. The matter has already been referred to the committee with instructions to proceed with projects already recommended so that the people of Rexburg will have an assurance of the future stability and excellency of this institution."
Irving Woodmansee, Rexburg Rotary Club president, also had written to the First Presidency. He received a reply on the same day as Purrington with exactly the same wording. But Woodmansee’s letter had an added last sentence: “The college is not going to be moved from Rexburg and the expansion program is under way.” That last sentence would be recalled later when the attempt to move Ricks to Idaho Falls would be made.
Merrill Skinner, the Chamber of Commerce president, sent a lengthy letter to the First Presidency. He expressed “appreciation for establishment and maintenance of Ricks College in Rexburg. . . . The wholesome influence of this institution is recognized and appreciated.” He pointed out that Rexburg was the best place for the college:
"Rexburg has always respected the ideals of Ricks College and through the years our officials have consistently adapted our laws and activities in a manner to keep Rexburg a clean town morally so far as lay in their power. We have no honky-tonks, no liquor by the drink dispensaries, no bawdy houses, no night clubs. Rexburg has endeavored to maintain an atmosphere and environment satisfactory as a home for Ricks College. If private or local interest have sometimes clashed with this policy, they have been subordinated."
Skinner reminded the First Presidency of all the physical and financial aid that Chamber of Commerce members and the community willingly donated to benefit the college. “It was especially gratifying to us to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony last year for the proposed new building.” However,
"we have looked forward hopefully month after month for work to go forward in fulfillment of the promise of this much needed addition. The long interval since construction was stopped has created a feeling of uncertainty as to the future of the school. This situation has probably had some effect in discouraging attendance, and in decreasing support abroad for the school. Meanwhile, rumors, reputed to be from authentic sources, to the effect that the building will not materialize, or that the school may be moved from this location, continue to circulate. People are disturbed. Some are even urging that a mass meeting be called to see if something can be done about this building. We feel, in justice to you, that we should call attention to the local situation, and concern developing here, because of the long delay and many disturbing rumors.
"We believe that some definite assurance should be given by those in authority as to when work will be resumed on this building. We, therefore, respectfully petition you to resume work on the new building and to add such needed facilities as will enable the school to maintain its leadership in education and character building. We are convinced that construction work on this building will have an immediate and magical effect in developing new enthusiasm, and support for Ricks College.
The same response that had been sent to Purrington was sent to Skinner, who read the response at the July 13, 1954, meeting of the directors of the Chamber of Commerce. They were gratified that “projects already recommended” would be resumed, “so that the people of Rexburg will have an assurance of the future stability and excellency of this institution.” Even so, several months passed before work resumed on the building.
Fall quarter commenced with a slight increase in registration from the previous year. The football team arrived early to prepare for the season. That season would see them win six, lose one, and tie Boise Junior College. Just getting a tie with BJC was cause for celebration. An article by Howard Biddulph, the sports editor of the Viking Scroll, in the Alumni Association’s publication Alumnus said, “Coach ‘Brick’ Parkinson’s Viking football crew . . . did something no other Ricks team has been able to do in recent years. In fact, they accomplished something no other team in ICAC postwar history has been able to accomplish. They tied the unbeaten Boise Broncos.” Lowell Biddulph, the director of physical education and athletics, congratulated coaches and players on a fine football season and promised that “athletic activities at Ricks will keep pace with the growth of the school.” Furthermore, “now that Ricks is a mature four-year school, negotiations are under way for more athletic contacts with other similar institutions.” Ricks would be engaging in athletic contests with more four-year colleges and, perhaps, since the Boise school was a junior college, they would be dropped from the schedule at some date. Biddulph concluded, “Bigger and better things are in the offing for future Ricks athletes as they build on the firm foundation laid by the splendid players and coaches of Ricks’ past.”
During the next months and years, Ricks College would have problems that could not be avoided. The complexities of those problems and how they were confronted called for courage and toughness. President Emeritus Hyrum Manwaring, in “Part II, 1954-2014” of his memoirs, gave some advice based on his experience. He compared 1954 to 1914 when he arrived to teach at Ricks. Then he compared Ricks in 1954 to a visionary Ricks in 2014. For Ricks to progress to the 1954 institution took substantial industry and sacrifice. So too would progress to 2014. President Manwaring wrote, “The problem is, can this generation catch the spirit of improvement, make the plans, and then quickly do the work?” as had previous generations. He wrote:
"Ricks College and Rexburg I feel should immediately become definitely ambitious to make the cleanest and finest college, and the most peaceful and cultured city in the state of Idaho. This can easily be done by a good dose of careful planning, and a lot of hard work. It cannot be done by our sitting quietly by and waiting for the government, the church, or some heaven sent messenger to bring us money and equipment. We ourselves must catch the old cooperative spirit of the pioneers; and with our own brains and muscles proceed to do what needs to be done no matter how hard or difficult. Our hopes and ambitions must materialize by our own vigorous effort.
"Starting with the new year 1954 just what will these . . . new generations do with [their] rich legacy? If they match or excel what their pioneer parents and grandparents have done, they will have to do more than jostle their fertile minds, and wag their flippant tongues. They will have to throw off thin plastic cloaks of many colors and make some real plans, and do some hard work. They will have to choose vigorous leaders, stiffen their flabby muscles, sweat their silken skins, and blister their lily fingers. In unselfish cooperation they will need to bring out their idle gigantic graders, their powerful tractors and discs, their massive trucks, and other efficient tools. If they would do this with the same cooperative energy and spirit that inspired their fathers they could work miracles. With proper plans, in two or three days, they could do more than the pioneers could do in that many weeks or months."
Manwaring continued by suggesting how to organize to see that Ricks and Rexburg progressed. Interestingly, his vision of the campus by 2014 was largely accomplished by the centennial in 1988: campus building expansion and beautification, tennis courts and an athletic stadium, residential developments around the campus, realignment of streets to better accommodate traffic flow, and development of “distinguished church leaders and national figures in government and business.” About the only part of the vision not yet realized is the golf course on the south hill.
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