New Buildings! New Status?
While the controversy over removal was in progress from 1957 to 1961, more than 6,500 students were added to the alumni roll. Full-time faculty increased from forty-five to sixty-eight. Leadership programs were well attended. All student activities—academic, social, political, religious, athletic, and cultural—continued without interruption.
Tuition cost $210 per year or $70 per quarter. To live in college residence halls cost $165-$175 per quarter for board and room. Several General Authorities visited campus to speak at assemblies or baccalaureate or commencement, including President McKay, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson of the Presiding Bishopric. President Clarke always set an optimistic tone in his commencement reports. As part of his June 2, 1960, report he announced a major change in organization of the academic year—starting with the 1960-1961 academic year both Ricks and Brigham Young University would move from the three quarter system to the two semester system. That put Ricks in line with all other Idaho colleges as well as “approximately 80% of all colleges and universities in the United States.”
Interesting and informative speakers were invited to forum assemblies, notably Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who compared the governments of the United States and Russia. If things got overly academic, students could relax at drama or musical productions such as Bredrich Smetana’s comic opera The Bartered Bride or dance to the music of the Kollege Kings.
After the announcement of April 26, 1961, community leaders such as Mayor Gilbert Larsen, Chamber of Commerce President Howard Potter, John Porter, Arthur C. Porter, Rexburg Stake President Delbert Taylor, and North Rexburg Stake President O.P. Mortensen very quickly assured President Clarke of their support for college programs and urged all others to do likewise.
Don C. Archibald, the Alumni Association president, called an Alumni Council meeting on May 15, 1961. They established the Ricks College Alumni Development Fund to “assist in making Ricks College one of the finest institutions in the land.” President Clarke announced at the Alumni Council meeting that “the sum of $2,700,000 has been approved to be used for the construction of a science building, classroom-library building, two or three women’s dormitories and for campus development.” He also spoke of the building program in his commencement report. Those attending commencement, especially alumni, sang “Happy Ties” with renewed vigor and sentiment.
Everyone was gratified at the speed with which Dr. Wilkinson and the Board of Education moved on the building program. Harvey L. Taylor, vice administrator of the Unified Church School System, was sent to Rexburg along with BYU’s campus planning committee, headed by Sam Brewster, to get building sites located and to review the 1957 campus master plan. A revised master plan was submitted to the Board of Education and approved on June 7, 1961. Often many months, sometimes years, are spent getting major buildings through planning, funding, and construction stages. President Clarke announced late in 1961 that construction would start in mid-1962.
President McKay made another surprise visit to Ricks on September 20, 1961. He visited with President Clarke in his office, then addressed a hastily called assembly of students and faculty in the auditorium. He told President Clarke and reiterated in the assembly that he knew leaving Ricks College in Rexburg was the right decision. He counseled that “it is not alone on the field of battle that courage may be manifested. It is needed in the day-by-day battle of life, not physical courage only, but moral courage.” To conclude his sermon, President McKay invoked God’s blessing:
"God bless you students. I have never been so happy to meet you as I am this day here in your home, the home of Ricks College. God bless you that you may be true to yourself, true to your parents, true to the girls or men whose love you seek—for the responsibility rests upon the girls as well as it does upon the boys. God bless you to build happy homes and by that I mean happy, peaceful homes in that you are true to the marriage vows that you make, and that the children grow up knowing that you are true to the covenants you make in the House of God, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
At the end of President McKay’s address, a beautiful painting of the Teton Mountains was presented to him by Clayne Raybould, the student-body president. Faculty member Oliver Parson had painted the picture titled “Spring in the Tetons.” The presentation was in appreciation for President McKay’s preservation of Ricks College in Rexburg. President McKay, whose love of the arts was well known, graciously accepted the painting.
The new year of 1962 began with a keen feeling of anticipation. The college music department had received a request to prepare a 300-voice choir to sing at April conference, the building program was scheduled to commence in May, and the wrestling team was getting national attention. Even though no building was started in May, at least bids for a new library-classroom building were received from contractors. The choir sang hymns beautifully at conference. The wrestling team ended the season ranked sixth nationally.
Elder Henry D. Moyle, First Counselor in the First Presidency, was baccalaureate speaker May 27, 1962. Commencement exercises were held May 31. Among the 259 graduates was the largest number of nursing students in the history of the program.
There were still a few skeptics around who would not accept that Ricks was secure until they saw action on the building program. They did not have long to wait. June 7, 1962, was “a significant if not historic day for Ricks College,” commented President Clarke. Richard “Dick” Davis of Rexburg, owner of Davis Construction Company, was awarded the contract to erect the library building. Groundbreaking ceremonies signaled the beginning of long anticipated campus construction. Speaking to assembled dignitaries, interested faculty, students, and townspeople, President Clarke commented that “the library is the heart of any college campus and it seems appropriate that the first building in the new expansion program is the new library.” Almost immediately after the groundbreaking ceremony concluded, L.R. Barrick began excavation for the foundation.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the science building to be built by Arrington Construction Company of Idaho Falls were held the afternoon of July 2. Harvey L. Taylor conducted and spoke:
"Within the next ten years you will see facilities on this campus that will be second to none. It is significant that at a time when the churches of the world are concerned so much about the relationship of science and religion that this Church is moving ahead confidently, unafraid, in building a science building such as this for the investigation of and study of science. This Church is not afraid of the study of science for truth harmonizes with truth."
Soon construction commenced on residence halls for women and men and a new physical plant building. The cacophony of construction could easily be heard by the 200 students who attended summer school, some 1,500 participants in the BYU-Ricks Adult Education Center’s Festival of Learning the last week in July, and by more than 1,500 students who registered for fall semester of the 1962-1963 academic year. But no one complained. The rising buildings were beautiful. Many students who watched construction knew they would be able to live and learn in those buildings.
Eight faculty were hired for the new school year. They replaced six who terminated their employment at the college. That net gain of two faculty would be the smallest number hired during any year for the rest of the decade. By 1970, almost 200 faculty had been hired. Most either completed careers at Ricks or are still on the faculty.
Students registering for the 1962-1963 school year could choose from 307 courses in nine divisions and twenty-five departments. Students could live at home and ride buses to the college from Idaho Falls. The cost was $14 for four weeks or fifty cents one way.
Norman Ricks, the director of student housing, was charged with enforcing newly developed off-campus housing regulations. In September, students found that they had to secure a place to live in approved college housing before being permitted to register. A house-holder’s agreement was designed to protect students from paying for marginal housing and householders from students who caused damage or did not pay all their rent. A deposit was required of each student and, if damage was greater than that covered by the deposit or if a student did not pay all the rent, grades would be withheld. If disputes arose, they were reviewed and resolved by a board consisting of a householder, student, and faculty member.
Ricks students were extolled in an Improvement Era article in September 1962. “In spite of the long winters in the Upper Snake River Valley, the spirit in this Latter-day Saint junior college in Rexburg, Idaho, is anything but cold.” Ricks is a “friendly school” where “one never passes anyone else on campus or in the halls without a cheery ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ and a great big smile.” The article noted that Ricks students come from “many states and from several foreign countries . . . to the heart of the scenic country near the Grand Tetons and spectacular Yellowstone to partake of high learning in the atmosphere of a friendly LDS farming community where the spirit of the restored gospel in action prevails.” Students educated at Ricks “find themselves at no disadvantage as they go on in the stiff competition of upper divisional study at a large university.” The article concluded with examples of students who achieved scholarly honors at Utah State University and Brigham Young University. “Ricks College is indeed fulfilling its objective, which is to prepare young Latter-day Saints and others who come to it to take their place effectively in a challenging and exciting new world.” The article helped dispel the “glorified high school” sentiment of some—mostly those who did not attend Ricks.
Homecoming theme for 1962 was “New Horizons.” To magnify the theme a huge R was painted on the North Menan Butte about six miles west of town and visible on the horizon from campus. The idea for the R was developed by Mathletes, the college math club and the brainchild of Harold Nielsen. Club members chose October 13 to paint the R and asked for assistance because the R was the size of a football field. Buses provided rides for students to get to the butte. A large group of students made the trip, establishing the tradition of painting and lighting the R before the homecoming game each year. They also established the tradition of painting each other. In spite of school spirit generated by the R, Ricks lost the 1962 homecoming game.
A highlight of Founders Day on November 12, 1962, was dedication of the auditorium building. Construction had been authorized in November 1951, and an appropriation made in March 1952. Groundbreaking took place on September 16, 1953. Then came delays. The building had been completed in time for the 1956-1957 school year. Now it was to be dedicated. President Harvey L. Taylor, vice chancellor of the Unified Church School System, addressed the audience. Then Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, offered the dedicatory prayer. Naming of the auditorium was postponed until December 11, 1963.
On January 4, 1963, groundbreaking ceremonies for the men’s residence hall, central heating plant, and utilities extension received community attention. Building construction progress was closely watched the first few months of 1963. Of special interest was the science building. A twenty-four-inch reflector telescope was installed in the “observadome” on top of the building. The telescope and planetarium would allow several new classes in astronomy and meteorology to be added to the curriculum. Several other new classes that were made possible by specialized teaching areas in the science and library buildings were added to the curriculum for 1963-1964. The music department also added a new women’s chorus to round out the music curriculum.
Many who graduated in 1963 were envious of those enrolling for the 1963-1964 school year. Not only would they have new buildings in which to live, learn, or study, they would be part of the seventy-fifth anniversary celebration.
The seventy-fifth anniversary was the subject for Education Week speakers in late July. As part of his presentation on “The Idaho Century of Progress,” M.D. Beal spoke about Ricks’ history. Education Week, under the auspices of the BYU-Ricks Adult Education Center, was the descendent of Leadership Week. Called the Festival of Learning in 1962, Education Week had started forty years earlier. Another enrollment record was set in the fall semester of 1963. In addition to the usual shuffling of classes and getting into housing, students were invited by President Clarke and Kay Briggs, the student body president, to get involved in the Diamond Anniversary program. Committees were established to work on a wide variety of activities including drama, music, dances, special assemblies, painting the R, and homecoming.
The Alumni Association established a special “Diamond Anniversary Alumni Student Loan Fund in the amount of $7500 minimum.” Being “by far, the largest fund at the college,” the fund would be available to any student “of good character and at a time of real need,” commented Alumni Association President Gordon Thatcher. Students would “repay the loans when their earning capacity, enhanced by their education, begins. Experience with other funds demonstrates the money is used and reused.” More than 3,000 alumni received letters requesting at least a $5 contribution, and the $7,500 was quickly raised. Rexburg merchants joined alumni fund-raising efforts. A program was initiated whereby most merchants donated 10 percent of their sales on a particular day on or near homecoming. That program raised thousands of dollars for scholarships.
Anniversary homecoming activities commenced on October 25, 1963, in the auditorium. Being especially honored at the Alumni Assembly was the late George S. Romney, the administrator of the school when Ricks officially became known as Ricks College. Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve and a Ricks alumnus was the featured speaker. He paid tribute to his father. His address was “most stimulating and greatly appreciated by all who were present,” President Clarke wrote to M.D. Beal. The anniversary ball climaxed Friday’s activities. Saturday’s Diamond Anniversary homecoming parade proved to be more successful than the football game.
The “Diamond” football team won three of nine games. The basketball team did better, winning thirteen and losing nine—the first winning season in seven years. The wrestling program, under Carl Bair, finished another winning season. Bob Christensen brought special honors to the “Diamond” wrestling team by being the first Viking to win a national junior college title. Christensen, who eventually became head wrestling coach at Ricks, wrestled in the heavyweight division at the Worthington, Minnesota, meet. The track team, coached by Don Rydalch, placed twelfth out of thirty-seven schools at the national junior college track meet in Big Spring, Texas. Berrett Packer took third in the high jump at 6 feet 2 inches. Earlier in the season, Packer had set a school record of 6 feet 5 3/4 inches.
The final event of the Diamond Anniversary program concluded on December 11 with the dedication of eight buildings and the naming of nine buildings. The dedicatory service was held in the auditorium before a capacity crowd. President Clarke read brief summaries of those for whom building and lecture rooms were being named. Elder Marion G. Romney gave the dedicatory address and offered the dedicatory prayer. Buildings dedicated and named were the David O. McKay Library; George S. Romney Science Building; William F. Rigby Hall (men’s residence); and Virginia H. Perkins, Edna Ricks, Sarah Ann Barnes, and Annie S. Kerr Pioneer Halls (women’s residences). The heating plant and utility systems building was dedicated but not named. The previously dedicated auditorium building was given the name of Oscar A. Kirkham, and the administration building was named in honor of Jacob Spori. Additionally, the 168-seat lecture room in the Romney Science Building was named to honor Oswald Christensen, and the 192-seat lecture hall in the David O. McKay Library was named in honor of Arthur Porter, Jr. Christensen had taught science and mathematics at Ricks for forty-one years. Porter had taught French, German, mathematics, and science at Ricks for seventeen years and had published The Rexburg Journal for forty years. He wrote in 1957: “I have participated in every crisis that the school has passed through in the past 55 years.” Of those honored, only President McKay and Arthur Porter were still living. President McKay was ninety years old; Porter was eighty-seven. Receptions held in each building for families and friends of those honored concluded the day’s activities.
Elder Marion D. Hanks, a President of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was the featured speaker at baccalaureate services held on June 2, 1964. Music furnished by the combined college choirs was directed by Richard Robison with Ruth Barrus at the organ. Following the service, the commencement ball was held in the Kirkham Building ballroom. Commencement was held the next day for some 350 Diamond Anniversary class graduates. President Clarke was the featured speaker. He recapped the events of the extraordinary school year just completed. He expressed gratitude for the $7,500 loan fund established by the Alumni Association, the generosity of the community in funding various scholarships, the dedication and naming of buildings, and the other numerous activities of the year. He announced that campus development would continue. Four additional women’s residence halls and one additional men’s residence hall had been approved. “These will duplicate the residence halls dedicated last December. In addition, money has been appropriated for the erection of a beautiful new Student Center containing more than 70,000 square feet of floor space. Architects are now preparing the plans for this building.” Additionally, “planning money has been approved for a new Agriculture and Technical Education Building and a new Physical Education Plant.” He reported that the current graduating class was 34.6 percent larger than the class of the previous year that had set a record. For the first time, at least in modern history, spring enrollment had exceeded that of fall. He could only conclude that the college would continue rapid expansion.
The class of 1914 was honored as the “Golden” class at the alumni banquet. Dr. Ariel S. Ballif, chairman of the sociology department at Brigham Young University and a member of the Ricks class of 1922, was chosen Distinguished Alumnus. Herman Walz and Delbert Taylor, both of the class of 1916, received special recognition for their significant contributions to the Diamond Anniversary Student Loan Fund.
The 1964-1965 school year started with another record enrollment. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia were represented. Almost four-hundred students were from out of state and ninety-one students represented nine foreign countries. The pattern of record enrollments, representing increasing numbers of national and international students, continued for many years.
Coach Carl Bair was especially optimistic that 1964 would be the year the football team would, after nine years, have a winning season. He, and assistant coaches Don Rydalch and Paul Mortensen, had switched to a new straight T formation offense. They discarded the single wing offense used for many years. In addition to a large number of returning sophomores, three joined the team who had played their freshman year in four-year programs: Steve Elliot and Bud Call had played at Idaho State University and Brad Dalling had played at Brigham Young University. Coach Bair’s optimism was not displaced. The Vikings ended the season with a five-win, four-loss record. Bair’s wrestling team continued winning, ending the season with a 9-1 duel meet record. Phil Allsen, coaching basketball in place of Berkley “Brick” Parkinson who was on leave, had an eleven-win, eleven-loss season. The track team coached by Don Rydalch had a successful season. “Dan Marsh finished fifth nationally in the triple jump at 42-10. It was the first year the event was held at the nationals,” noted Stephen Moser in his synopsis of Ricks sports.
Although sports gets much attention and head coaches are well known, musical and dramatic productions always draw large crowds and faculty musicians and dramatists have been equally well known. Not only do faculty members teach but they perform. For example, drama instructor Lynn Benson was outstanding as Henry Higgins in the stage production of My Fair Lady during the spring of 1965. He would reprise that role a few years later. Knowing that Benson was cast in a stage play assured a large attendance. He received accolades for his performance as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, staged during the fall of 1965. Acting the part of Maria was Karen Chandler, a former Rexburg resident who went on to act and sing in Hollywood. The director of stage productions was Lyle Watson, noted for bringing nationally known performers to Ricks to act and sing in several productions.
During the spring of 1965, Gordon Thatcher, the alumni banquet president, reported on the past year’s alumni activities. He noted that the Diamond Anniversary Student Loan Fund had increased to $12,500. He also reported that Elsie Rigby, the widow of Harlo B. Rigby, had established a $50,000 scholarship trust fund. President Clarke noted the scholarship funds constituted the largest gifts the college had received.
When students registered for fall semester of 1965, another men’s dormitory was completed and ready for occupancy. On the slope south of the Spori Building, the student union building was under construction, the fourteenth building since the building program commenced in 1962. The huge building was not scheduled for completion for another year, so freshmen in 1965 would want to be sure to return in the fall of 1966.
A change in campus ecclesiastical structure divided students beginning the 1965-1966 school year among seven wards in the new Ricks College Stake. J. Wendell Stucki had been ordained and set apart by Richard L. Evans of the Quorum of the Twelve to preside as stake president on May 7, 1965. President Stucki chose LaVere A. Ricks as first counselor and Marion G. Forsyth as second counselor. Rulon G. McCarrey was called as stake clerk and John L. Smith and Eldred Stephenson as assistant stake clerks. Marriner Morrell, Merle Fisher, and Albert Pieper, who were all faculty members, were called to the stake high council. The stake did not get a number until May 2, 1969, when the Ricks College Second Stake was organized by Elder LeGrand Richards. Loren H. Grover was called as president of the new stake with F. Melvin Hammond and Robert B. Powell, counselors; Kenneth Papenfuss, stake clerk; Murray D. Ford, Larry D. Scott, Robert H. Hansen, assistant stake clerks; Carl J. Johnson, stake patriarch; and J. Kent Marlor, executive secretary. Students registering for the 1969-1970 school year were apportioned among seventeen college wards.
At the homecoming assembly on October 15, 1965, special tribute was paid to President Clarke “for 21 years of devoted and outstanding service to the school.” Sharon Haws Moser, a member of the Alumni Council, wrote a “This Is Your Life” script and a special song was sung by Richard Robison in honor of President Clarke. Daniel Hess narrated and directed the program. Elder Marion G. Romney brought special greetings from the First Presidency. Complimenting President Clarke for his administration of the college, Elder Romney said, “There is only one Church school which exceeds Ricks in population and not one passes her in excellence.” Elder Romney prophesied that by 1970 Ricks “could have a student body of 5,000 and facilities to house and train them.” (That prophesy came true. Lawrence Benson of Thornton, Idaho, registered as student number 5,000 during the fall semester of 1970.) The “This Is Your Life” program included surprise visits by several members of the Clarke family. John Robert Clarke, serving in the Uruguayan Mission, sent a taped message. Dr. Harvey L. Taylor, the new administrator of the Church School System, in commending Clarke to the students, said, “You have an example set for you in President Clarke.” Taylor reminded students that there was “something found at Ricks that is not found in any other institution in the world.” The climax of the assembly was a presentation of two gifts from the alumni: a portrait of Clarke presented to the school to hang in the Kirkham Auditorium and round-trip airline tickets for President and Sister Clarke to Hawaii. President Clarke was overwhelmed at the love shown, and in his wise and humble way counseled: “May we all live so we can merit the blessings of our Father in Heaven.”
Part of living to merit those blessings was conforming to the established college code of conduct. Lowell Biddulph was the standards committee chairman. A music and grooming standard for much of the free world had evolved from The Beatles, an English rock group. At Ricks, Biddulph said, “We would like to discourage beards, and beetle haircuts on campus and feel these fads are definitely against habits of good grooming and church standards.” In answer to the question “What about stomp dancing and electronic bands?” President McKay had recently commented that “stomp dancing and electronic music are incompatible with church standards.” That style of dancing and music had been declared inappropriate at both Brigham Young University and Ricks. “We are wholeheartedly in support of President McKay in this matter,” Biddulph said, “and we know the entire student body will support the student officers and faculty at Ricks.” A screening committee was established to monitor compliance in all music and dancing performed on campus.
Certainly, The Sound of Music performed during fall semester and Puccini’s La Boheme performed during spring semester of 1966 passed the screening committee. They were performed to packed houses at Ricks. Additionally, The Sound of Music was performed in the Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium. Other performances drawing ovations during the spring semester included Lyle Watson directing Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest and the stage play Arsenic and Old Lace. First-year baseball coach Charles“Tiny” Grant led this team to a seven-win, five-loss season, one of the few winning baseball seasons for Ricks. Perhaps inspiration was provided during the fall of 1965 from forum assemblies featuring actor Alan Mobray and Pittsburgh Pirate pitching star Vernon“Deacon” Law.
During the spring semester, a campaign got under way to increase the number of books in the library to meet American Library Association standards. According to Librarian Gaylin Fuller, the standard was 35,000 titles for a college with enrollment of 2,500 students. Ricks was 10,000 titles short of that number. For the projected 5,000 enrollment by 1970, Fuller estimated that another 25,000 titles would be needed at a cost of some $350,000. The Alumni Council established the Friends of the Library committee that was chaired by A.E. Archibald, president of Idaho Bank of Commerce. Daniel Hess, the Alumni Council executive secretary, said the committee’s goal was to raise an initial $100,000 for library needs.
In March 1966, the Alumni Association issued a twenty-two-page document titled “Why the Alumni Association Strongly Favors Four Year Status For Ricks College.” The campaign to return Ricks to four-year status began in earnest about one year after the end of the removal controversy. All Sixth District high school superintendents signed a letter sent to President McKay dated May 7, 1962, noting that “we strongly feel Ricks College is doing a disservice to education in Idaho by continuing a two-year terminal teacher training program. . . . We feel that any two-year program, regardless of its excellence, cannot adequately prepare a quality teacher in this period of time.” The superintendents concluded by urging “that consideration be given to the establishment of a four-year, degree granting, teacher training program at Ricks College.” Several months later an editorial in the Idaho Falls Post Register encouraged the Church Unified School System to provide, eventually, “a four year, degree granting institution” to “fulfill a real need in Idaho.” As part of the 1965 Alumni Council questionnaire sent to Ricks graduates with bachelor’s degrees, a question was asked if they favored four-year status. Of 163 who answered the question, 152 said yes, three no, and eight had no opinion. Late in November 1965, Daniel Hess received a letter from Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson indicating support for a four-year program at Ricks. Hess wrote back early in December. He noted that he had discussed Isaacson’s letter with President Clarke and “we were overjoyed to know of your support for a four-year program at Ricks College.” In February 1966, Alumni Association President Ted Barrett wrote that “a rule is now in effect in the State of Idaho that teachers will not be granted a teaching certificate unless they have a four year degree.” The Idaho Legislature had passed that restriction several years ago but had allowed time for phasing in. Meanwhile, teachers had been able to teach on provisional certificates. Now all teachers were required to have a bachelor’s degree to be certified. “One of the most alarming results of this is the prospect of a drastic decrease in the number of Latter-day Saints teaching in our public schools,” Barrett wrote. “The well trained teachers who have graduated over the years” from Ricks College “have inspired and uplifted hosts of public school students over a wide area of Idaho and surrounding states. Is this historic role to end?” he asked.
President Clarke supported efforts to have Ricks returned to a four-year institution. In a letter to M.D. Beal dated March 31, 1967, he wrote: “I surely appreciate your attitude towards a four-year program for Ricks and, at the present time, about all that I could ask you to do is to use your voice affirmatively when the opportunity arrives or whenever you have an opportunity to speak to anyone who might have any influence on the decision. I feel confident that the change will be made but as to the time I do not know.” But despite the best efforts of the Alumni Association and others, the question “When will Ricks become a four-year college again?” is still being asked. To President Clarke, this was an ongoing source of disappointment. Each president since Clarke has been asked the question numerous times. The policy has been iterated by Church education commissioners and several General Authorities that Ricks College will remain a quality junior college.
The graduating class of 1966 numbered 453, setting the record as the largest class in the seventy-seven-year history of the school. Elder Hugh B. Brown was baccalaureate speaker. Louise Taysom, the valedictorian, and Walter Whipple, the salutatorian, joined President Clarke in addressing graduates at commencement. The president reported that the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center would be ready by fall, and groundbreaking would take place in the fall for the classroom-office building and the next spring for an agricultural-technical education building. He was pleased to report that Coach Don Rydalch’s cross-country team had brought recognition to Ricks College by winning the national championship. He appreciatively noted the gifts to the library and money donated for scholarships and loans. He expressed appreciation to the faculty for all the work they did and to students, especially those involved with student government. He invited everyone to attend BYU Education Week that would start on June 6 and feature The 3-D’s, a singing group. “In reciting all of these developments, we have not lost sight of the principal purpose of Ricks College,” he concluded, “this is the training of the students who come here in their various disciplines in an atmosphere permeated by the standards of the Church and the spirit of the Gospel. The pursuit of excellence in teaching has guided the efforts of our faculty.”
Credit could be earned by drama students during the summer through participation in productions of the Westgate Playmill in West Yellowstone, Montana. Under the direction of faculty members Lynn Benson and Lee Gifford, students not only honed acting skills, but learned the economics of operating a theater.
Students enrolling for the fall semester of 1966 noted a change in the school calendar. School started the end of August rather than mid-September as was customary. This meant the completion of first semester before Christmas vacation. Spring semester of 1967 would end two weeks earlier than usual. This would give Ricks students a jump on finding jobs because they would be out before high schools or other colleges. The change was generally applauded.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the classroom-office building (known for several years somewhat irreverently as the COB) were held on October 7, 1966. The 60,000 square foot building would house 100 offices, forty classrooms, and two large lecture rooms suitable for ward meetings. According to Daniel Hess, appointed by President Clarke to oversee new campus construction, Skyline Construction Company of Salt Lake City was to have the building ready for use by August 1, 1967. And it was.
While a new building was under construction, a city and college landmark underwent a change. The College Avenue building that had served for many years as a dormitory was remodeled to contain the art and speech departments.
While late fall cold weather enveloped the campus, the football team under new head coach Don Rydalch was completing a four-win, four-loss season. The wrestling season got started under new head coach Wes Christensen (ending with a nine-win, three-loss duel meet record and ranked sixteenth nationally). And, in the warm clime of Pensacola, Florida, the cross-country team under new head coach Jed Gibson won the national championship. Don Zaph was the highest finisher for Ricks in fourth place out of some 160 runners.
Robert Peterson of New York City was on campus to sing the leading role in the musical Camelot. The role of King Arthur was well known to Peterson as he had performed the role on Broadway and as a member of a touring company. Ina Lou Cheney of Idaho Falls was Guenevere and Ricks student Sam Gillingham was Sir Lancelot. Not only was the musical performed in Rexburg and Idaho Falls, but two performances in Pocatello received critical acclaim.
During 1967 Women’s Week, two special presentations were made. Laurie Sanders of Rapid City, South Dakota, was crowned Woman of the Year by Susan Richards, the 1966 winner. President Clarke, on behalf of all Ricks women, presented the Distinguished Achievement Award to Jessie Evans Smith. She thrilled everyone in attendance at the special Women’s Week assembly by singing a couple of songs, accompanied by her husband, President Joseph Fielding Smith of the Church First Presidency.
In recognition of his long and significant service to Ricks College, Marriner Morrell was presented with the first Faculty Association Honors Lecture Award in April 1967. Along with the $100 stipend, which Morrell announced would go toward fishing gear, went the privilege of preparing and delivering the honors lecture. The award has been presented annually since 1967, going to the outstanding faculty member of the year as determined by his or her peers.
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to 544 graduates at baccalaureate on May 10. President Clarke, giving his report as part of commencement on May 11, noted that the addition of the Manwaring Student Center “has provided a tremendous lift to student extra-curricular activities and to varied Church and community events.” He also announced schematic drawings were under way for a technical education building.
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