John L. Clarke, Symbol of the "Spirit of Ricks"
Registrar Eldred Stephenson anticipated that fall 1967 enrollment would be about 3,000. He was surprised when well over 3,400 registered. Erma H. Magleby, vice president of the Alumni Council and author of the “Comments by Ye Olde Reporter” column in the Alumni Newsletter, wrote that “life on the campus at Ricks College is changing. The unhurried way of life we knew years ago with its friendliness and easy comradery has been replaced largely by a feeling of hurry, hurry, hurry. But, in the midst of this rush,” she conceded, “Ricks students are a friendly group who open doors for grey-haired ladies and greet everyone with a smile and a ‘Hi.’ ” Was Ricks getting crowded? “Just to show you how crowded the campus is nowadays,” Magleby quipped, “it is now necessary to have an ‘ID’ card and a parking permit to sit under the trees.”
Homecoming on October 9-15, 1967, filled campus with the “spirit of Ricks.” It featured painting of the R, dances, movies, assemblies, concerts, receptions, open houses, coronation of Sharon Horton as queen, songfest, luncheons, alumni activities, and football. A highlight was the groundbreaking ceremony for construction of by far the largest building yet built on campus—the physical education complex. Arrington Construction Company of Idaho Falls had been awarded the bid. Lowell Biddulph, the chairman of the Physical Education Division and athletic director, said the building was expected to be ready for use by the fall of 1969. Dimensions and functions of the building recognized the expanding importance of men’s and women’s sports.
In 1968, everything seemed pointed toward the eightieth anniversary of Ricks College to be held as part of homecoming in October. A pageant was to be written and produced under the auspices of the Alumni Association. An alumni committee, directed by Erma Magleby, was busy early in the year soliciting pictures, stories, and information on events. A song-writing contest was “open to anyone whether or not [they] ever attended Ricks.” At the conclusion of the contest, Lynn Benson, Ruth Biddulph, LaMar Barrus, and Darwin Wolford judged the ten entries. They chose the entry submitted by Iris H. Hathaway, which became the theme song of the homecoming pageant:
The Light on the Hill
There’s a beacon shining brightly
On a hill in Idaho
And its steady, glowing beauty
Guides me everywhere I go,
Through the lowest, darkest corners
To the tops of mountains high
Through the vale of disappointment
To the soul’s triumphant cry.
There’s a beacon flaming skyward
Beckoning to those who seek
Signifying man’s reach upward
From his station, low and meek.
Ricks will light the wanderer’s pathway
To a greater destiny.
Ricks will show the way to freedom
Through true wisdom’s secret key.
It’s an ever-constant beacon
Lighting torches in the hearts
Of the children of our Father
As they yearn to do their parts
In the building of His kingdom
Both on earth and up above;
And to show our Father’s gospel
In their acts of truth and love.
Youth of Zion, keep this beacon
Fired by your growing faith.
Be trustworthy—love your brother;
Rule out every act of hate.
“Charity never faileth.
Intelligence—God’s glory still.”
Remember all our Savior’s teachings.
Love him. Learn to do his will.
To see that all alumni were invited to participate in the eightieth anniversary, about 20,000 addresses were entered into the large state-of-the-art IBM computer for easier mailing.
Women’s Week in February featured Ida Jensen Romney, a former teacher at Ricks Academy. She was presented the Ricks College Distinguished Achievement Award. Her husband, Elder Marion G. Romney, speaking to the College Stake Mutual Improvement Association, was introduced by Clyde Packer, who had been his coach when he played football and basketball at Ricks. Packer presented the Clyde Packer Ideal Athlete Award to Elder Romney. He said, “When Brother Romney attended Ricks in 1920, he was quarterback on the first football team at Ricks and captain of the basketball team. He was a fine athlete, high in scholarship, sportsmanship, moral integrity, and desire to serve. He is the personification of the ‘Ideal Athlete’.”
Elder James A. Cullimore, Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke at baccalaureate in 1968. President Clarke gave his report at commencement and recalled the 1963 Diamond Anniversary homecoming theme: “Era of Expansion.” He said the theme was still appropriate because not only was there a 125.8 percent increase in students since 1963, but the student body had become increasingly cosmopolitan. He spoke of expansion in numbers of faculty, classes, and buildings. “I truly believe that the ‘Era of Expansion’ announced by the student Homecoming Committee is still with us at Ricks College,” he said. As the “faculty and student body increase further in numbers, I continue to envision for her a greatly expanded role of service and influence. Ricks College—a leader, but true to her spiritual heritage.”
All the usual activities were part of the 1968 homecoming, plus an abundance of activities associated with the eightieth anniversary. There was the painting of the R, crowning of the homecoming queen, songfest, alumni assembly, concert featuring the Four Freshmen, and fireworks. A choice had to be made Friday night between the hootenanny and social or the pageant. Saturday was the homecoming parade, football game, pageant, president’s reception, and homecoming ball. The football game was exciting. The Vikings, under interim head coach Charles “Tiny” Grant and behind the stellar defensive play of Dave Walker, defeated four-year Carroll College of Helena, Montana, 26-6. In addition, the annual Valkyrie alumni and the tenth anniversary of the nursing department banquets were held. Six classes held reunions on Friday or Saturday evening. If anyone complained that there was not enough variety, they would be very hard to please.
Usually, the football game is the highlight of homecoming. This year the pageant, “The Light on the Hill,” packed the Kirkham Auditorium Friday and Saturday evenings and thrilled the audience. The pageant was an historical sketch of the eighty-year history of Ricks. Sharon Moser wrote the script, Lynn Benson directed, Darwin Wolford and LaMar Barrus developed and directed the music, and Robert Oliphant was choreographer. The theme song written by Iris Hathaway was sung during the opening scene. The pageant reminded everyone of their heritage and was a fitting climax for homecoming.
The Founders Day birthday party commenced November 12 in the Manwaring Center. President Clarke helped cut and serve the three-foot-by-four-foot, log-cabin-shaped birthday cake. Earlier in the day, M.D. Beal was presented the Distinguished Service Award “based on his contributions as author, historian, teacher, former faculty member at Ricks and as an inspiration to young people.” Beal spoke to the student body and faculty at the devotional assembly, recounting the history of the Latter-day Saints in Idaho, particularly in the Upper Snake River Valley. M.D. and Bessy Beal also provided scholarships to Ricks students.
A booklet entitled “Eighty Years, 1888-1968” was published in connection with Founders Day to remind everyone of the significance of Ricks College’s eightieth birthday. This historical sketch, based largely on Hyrum Manwaring’s manuscript, contained numerous pictures illustrative of Ricks history, a page of school songs, and a list of student-body presidents from Jesse Roberts in 1914 to Kenneth Meacham in 1968. It was prepared by the Eightieth Anniversary Book Committee, which included Daniel Hess, Jay Slaughter, Norman Ricks, Glen Humpherys, Ruth Biddulph, Seth Bills, Gary Grimmett, Ned Brewerton, and Donna Jean Kinghorn, who wrote the script. President Clarke encapsulated the philosophy of Ricks in the booklet:
"The plus extra that makes Ricks great is the comprehensive philosophy of life that permeates its curriculum, faculty, student body, and very atmosphere—the divine philosophy encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But though Ricks College possesses this philosophy of life and living, it cannot give this philosophy to you. All it can give to you is a chance to win it for yourself.
"Because of the gospel, Ricks College is a truly great school; be certain that you taste of its greatness and thus profit from the extra, the plus, the extraordinary that is here for you. There are only two lasting bequests the college can give you. One of these is roots, the other wings. Keep your feet on the ground and your eyes on the stars."
Before fall semester concluded, a significant change was made in the Division of Religion. Dr. Harvey L. Taylor wrote President Clarke on November 18, 1968, and recommended “that you release yourself as Chairman of the Department [Division] of Religious Education and appoint Dr. Keith Sellers as Chairman of the Department [Division].” President Clarke took the recommendation and relinquished his chairmanship of the Division of Religion.
Ricks trained missionaries during its early years as an academy. Normal school special classes were attended by those anticipating mission calls. Even after the “missionary school” was discontinued, prospective missionary classes were part of the religion curriculum. Early in 1969, Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley and members of the Church Missionary Committee with Elder Kimball as chairman announced that a missionary school would once again become a distinct part of Ricks College. They announced a Language Training Mission had been established at Ricks to train in Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish. Ermel Morton was called to be president of the mission with Lorentz Pearson and C. Bernie Jensen as counselors. The first missionaries arrived early in February. Averaging about sixty in a group, they were trained for eight weeks by returned missionaries who knew the languages. They then departed for their missions. All the classes were held in the Classroom Office Building, and missionaries had their own branch. The Language Training Mission continued to train hundreds of missionaries for several years. It closed when most language training was consolidated at the Language Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Prodded by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Congress had passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution on August 7, 1964, which caused rapid escalation of United States involvement in the Vietnam War. At the time, little impact was felt on campus, although President Johnson’s actions regarding Vietnam were generally applauded. Within several months, several young men from the community departed for Southeast Asia to join the conflict. Rexburg’s reserve unit, Company B of the 116th Engineer Battalion, was called up for duty in Vietnam.
Nationally, increasing antipathy toward the war was manifested in campus riots, as well as in numerous other ways, including aberrant dress, hairstyles, and moral standards. There were no riots at Ricks (a couple of streakers wearing only ski masks did make a dash across part of the campus), although the issue was often hotly debated in history and political science classes.
In 1968, Richard M. Nixon received the Republican presidential nomination and was elected. Part of his campaign was that, if elected, he would bring an end to the war in Vietnam. Within several months after Nixon’s inauguration in January 1969, the president did de-escalate the war in Vietnam, and most local men who had gone to Vietnam came home. All received battle medals and ribbons. College alumni GeorgeArliss Willmore and Keith Ricks were awarded the Air Medal for meritorious service. Both were helicopter pilots who made daring rescues under fire.
Construction on campus maintained a brisk pace in 1968 and 1969. A new foyer was built on the south entrance of the Spori Building. Extensive remodeling of the David O. McKay Library was completed. The technical education building was ready for occupancy during the summer of 1969. The physical education building and two more women’s residence halls were ready by fall semester. President Clarke and the College Building Committee headed by Daniel Hess recommended to the Church Education Committee that the old gymnasium be remodeled. Due to excessive costs, Dr. Harvey L. Taylor wrote to President Clarke on April 30, 1969, saying, “It is our feeling that it should be torn down and as much material salvaged as possible and that we locate on this site the new biological sciences building.” Because eventual expansion of the biological sciences building was to the west of the original science building, the gymnasium had a new lease on life for another eight years.
President Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke to the 837 graduates of the class of 1969. His admonition was to “have faith, build faith and live by faith and get acquainted with the Lord.” President Clarke reported at commencement that all fifty states and eighteen foreign countries were represented in the student body and that “there are no finer young people anywhere.” He noted that architectural plans were being developed for a new physical plant building; family living, nursing, and health building; athletic stadium; and trailer court for married student housing. He announced new programs to be in place by fall included an honors program “designed to attract and challenge students with unusual promise by providing them with a flexible and enriched program of study” and a guided studies program “designed to assist certain students to improve their study skills.” President Clarke paid tribute to community patrons and corporations who financially supported Ricks. He announced that the college Development Office would expand to promote and advise about tax advantages that could be realized by donating to Ricks through endowments, gifts, and wills. “The future greatness of Ricks, as with its past accomplishments, must rest upon a shared responsibility and united effort,” he said. “May our Heavenly Father’s blessings attend us in our united efforts to make of Ricks College a great instrument of service in God’s kingdom here on earth.”
Delbert Taylor received the Distinguished Service Award presented by President Clarke at commencement. The class of 1969 presented President Clarke and the campus with a sea gull monument that was placed in the quad fountain south of the Spori Building. The Alumni Association gave Distinguished Alumni Awards to George Hansen and Dr. Gordon Watson. Eldred Stephenson presented a new award to several wives of graduates: “PHT (Putting Hubby Through).”
Faculty member Mary Hess received her doctorate in education during spring commencement at Brigham Young University. She was the first woman faculty member at Ricks to receive a doctorate. Her husband, Daniel, had received his doctorate in education at BYU a few years earlier. They were recognized as the first husband-wife team to receive doctorates at BYU.
President Clarke also received special recognition at BYU. During summer commencement exercises on August 21, 1969, he was presented an honorary doctor of public service degree. President Clarke had put his doctoral program on hold to guide Ricks College and had never been able to resume his studies long enough to complete the degree. That was a major disappointment for him. Now, with the awarding of an honorary degree, President Clarke could add the title of doctor to his list of titles. The November 1969 Alumni Newsletter reprinted from the Idaho Falls Post Register the following tribute:
"A thoughtful, scholarly man who has been the yeast in the phenomenal development of Ricks College and who has also had an impressive arc of public service off campus, will be honored August 21. . . .
"John Clarke is a quiet man who speaks out when the occasion requires. And when he does, he is like the man in a large crowd who does not need to lift his voice to be heard. The crowd harkens to him. He is one of those gifted administrators who has a special talent for organization and for motivating faculty and students alike. And the intrinsic motivating quality stems from a constant of his personality—a charitable man with a sense of order."
President Clarke directed a self-study of the college during most of 1969. Faculty committees looked at curriculum, faculty educational levels and production, athletics, extracurricular activities, and physical facilities. President Clarke was a commission member of the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools and knew the kinds of information necessary for a full evaluation. He welcomed the accreditation visitors early in October. They were impressed with the thoroughness of the self study and “were most laudatory in relation to appearance and attitude of students, dedication of faculty members, and moral climate.” The accreditation team commented that “the most impressive thing they found on campus was not the building—new, beautiful and finely equipped; not the faculty, most qualified—but the students, how they looked and how they acted.” At the final hearing on December 7, 1969, the team recommended that Ricks College be granted full accreditation. The recommendation was accepted and Ricks was fully accredited as it has been each year since the first accreditation of 1936.
Ricks College founder Thomas E. Ricks became better known to students and faculty at the annual alumni homecoming assembly in 1969. DonnaJean Kinghorn wrote and narrated a program illustrating the founder’s life and character. Descendants of Thomas E. Ricks presented a bronze bust of their ancestor, and President Clarke accepted the bust on behalf of the college. “It will be a perpetual reminder and inspiration to all who see this bust of a great man,” President Clarke said. “The heritage left by Thomas E. Ricks is great. The foundation of this College was written by him in 1888.” The bust, sculpted by Edward Fraughton of Salt Lake City, was placed on a pedestal in the Spori Building. Four grandsons of Thomas E. Ricks were honored at the homecoming assembly—Eldin Ricks, LaVere Ricks, Norman Ricks, and Keith Ricks. Each received the Ricks Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
Ricks lost the homecoming game to Treasure Valley Community College in one of those games that cause coaches to go prematurely grey. Ricks was leading 21-7 going into the last quarter and victory seemed certain. TVCC scored twenty-two unanswered points to win 29-21. To help assuage disappointment, fans could visit the new athletic complex, for which an open house had recently been held, and marvel at the building. Or a person could attend the forum assembly on November 13 and volunteer to be hypnotized by Dr. Franz Polgar, who could make everything seem right. Disappointment in the game could be forgotten by attending the stage production of Hello Dolly featuring well-known actress Dorothy Lamour.
To end one decade and begin another, the Valhalla Dancers, under Robert Oliphant’s direction, toured Mexico and several western states. They left Rexburg on December 18, 1969, and returned on January 8, 1970. The dancers performed at a folk dance festival in Mexico City. Their performance was “a great climax to what had been a distinguished international program and . . . did a real service for the United States,” wrote Gaylon L. Caldwell, U.S. Embassy cultural attache, to Harvey Taylor, commissioner of Church schools. “I’m sure the Church deserves credit for the clean-cut youth image the Ricks students projected to the large enthusiastic audience which enjoyed the show.”
The January 20 devotional held in the Hart Auditorium and conducted by President Clarke was devoted to eulogizing President McKay, who had died on January 18. Loren Grover, president of the Ricks College Second Stake, was the principal speaker. He used examples from the long and devoted life of President McKay to inspire students, faculty, and townspeople. All classes were dismissed on the day of the funeral so students could watch the services on televisions located in several places on campus. Many from the community made their way to campus to join students and faculty and pay their last respects.
Almost one month after the death of President McKay, President Clarke’s wife, Fay, died on February 16, 1970. She had been in ill health for many months. President Clarke was uplifted by the outpouring of love and condolences he received. Fay Christensen Clarke was remembered “as a gracious hostess at the president’s reception at homecoming; as a sweet, lovely lady, talented in music and the arts, who gave willingly of her talents to enrich the lives of all about her.”
Ricks College received unprecedented nationwide coverage on February 12, 1970, when radio commentator Paul Harvey broadcast live from Salt Lake City. He had just flown into Salt Lake City after having been the featured speaker at the annual college American Week. “Idaho potatoes grow profusely but with careful tending, and young people thereabouts grow up with careful tending on the wide hill-top campus of Ricks College. Ricks is a Mormon College, a handsome complex of buildings, functional, beautiful inside and out.” Harvey added:
"On a grand swell of exhilarated interest in Mormon related schools and with almost limitless growing room, Ricks is fast building towards prominence and conceivably eventual dominance in the West. . . .
"Ricks College is as isolated as any major college I have ever seen, way out there from anywhere. You’d think those thousands of students would grow restive. Their remoteness does complicate such problems as part-time jobs and year-round housing for the mushrooming student population, but if there are fewer of the big city’s attractions, there are fewer distractions and students thus concentrating their energies on campus activities develop some incomparable scholars and athletes and performers and performing groups. And more than this, the clear-eyed confidence which used to characterize most American young people is still apparent behind their wide open eyes, as exuberant in their fun time as they are reverent in their prayers."
Paul Harvey’s commentary reached every state, including Hawaii and Alaska, and reached across Canada. Although Ricks has achieved prominence, whether “eventual dominance in the West” will, or should, happen is debatable.
Historians and history teachers from many areas in Idaho participated in the Idaho History Conference on April 18, 1970, hosted by Ricks. For many from Idaho’s colleges and universities, this conference was the first time they had been to Ricks. They expressed amazement at the beauty of the landscaping and the modern facilities, most of which were better than anything on their campuses. They also wondered at the clean-cut appearance of the students. On most of their campuses many students were still trying to be recognized by their weird dress and grooming standards, and by political activism. Many other scholars from Idaho and other states attending college-sponsored conferences have echoed the sentiments of those at the history conference.
Not only were 879 graduates added to the alumni rolls in 1970, but two became honorary members. President Clarke and Melvin Luke were presented the Distinguished Honorary Alumnus Award by the outgoing alumni president, Robert Archibald. Distinguished Alumnus Awards were presented to J. Howard Craven, senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Oliver K. Meservy, who had taught at Ricks Academy in 1896; and posthumously to David H. Manwaring, a Rexburg businessman.
October was homecoming month. Festivities started with the alumni assembly on October 8 and concluded with the dance on October 10. In between were reunions of all classes ending in 10, the crowning of Ann Rhees as homecoming queen, a parade, pep rally, football game against Mesa College of Grand Junction, Colorado, president’s reception, and a smorgasbord for alumni. All activities stressed the homecoming theme: “Bound for Glory.” Four of six surviving members of the “Golden” class of 1910 were honored. Special recognition went to the class of 1930. Gordon Dixon had organized a reunion of the championship basketball team of the class of 1930. Nine of eleven players attended the reunion, along with their coach, Clyde Packer. Alumni President Dell Klingler announced inauguration of the First Annual Alumni Giving Program. Funds were to be used for college projects. President Clarke and former alumni president Ted Barrett were the first to present personal checks to the fund. October would, henceforth, be called Alumni Giving Month.
October was a month for special honors. October 27, 1970, was proclaimed Harvey L. Taylor Appreciation Day by Rexburg Mayor Henry Shirley. President Taylor and his wife were honored at a special assembly and an evening dinner. The tributes were fitting for the man who had a long association with Ricks. President Clarke noted that when President Taylor “first saw Ricks College there were only three permanent buildings and the student body was something over 500 students. With his help and under his leadership, twenty beautiful new buildings have been erected, the curriculum has been expanded and our enrollment of more than 5,100 students now comes from all fifty states and more than twenty foreign countries.”
President Clarke was soon to experience another transition in his life. Early in February 1971, an announcement was made by the Church commissioner of education, Neal A. Maxwell, that President Clarke would be released as president of Ricks College effective July 1, 1971. “History will be kind in its assessment of his leadership at Ricks College,” Maxwell noted in a Church News article on February 6, 1971. “His devotion to the Church, his humility and high standards have impressed all of us. . . . He leaves the school with the deep appreciation of all of us for his steadfastness and vision in the midst of great growth and complexity.”
Commissioner Maxwell announced that the successor to President Clarke had been appointed. Dr. Henry B. Eyring, an associate professor of business at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, would become president of Ricks. Dr. Eyring “will bring to the presidency of Ricks College not only his rich scholastic and professional background from Harvard and Stanford, but a deep and abiding spirituality, which is accompanied by unusual skills in working with students and colleagues,” Maxwell commented. “His extensive work with business leaders, and his enthusiasm, will also be of special benefit to Ricks College, to Rexburg and other Idaho communities.”
The college faculty honored President Clarke at a special social on March 22, 1971. As a show of the faculty’s “love and affection,” Edward Malstrom, the president of the Faculty Association, presented President Clarke with two tickets for a trip to England on the Queen Elizabeth II. Included were airline tickets from Salt Lake City to New York City. President Clarke had served a mission to England as a young man. He and his new wife, LaRae King Clarke, had talked about going to England during the coming summer.
President Clarke was to be released, but he was not ready to retire. He had several options. He could stay at Ricks and teach as had his predecessor, Hyrum Manwaring; he was invited to join the faculty at Brigham Young University and teach junior college administration courses; and he was invited to join the faculty at Church College of Hawaii and teach religion while his wife taught in the speech department. The Clarkes decided to accept the Church College of Hawaii positions. They met the college dean of instruction while attending April conference and worked out details. The Clarkes returned to their motel room after the Sunday morning session on April 4 to find a message to call President N. Eldon Tanner’s office. President Clarke was invited to meet with President Tanner, a member of the First Presidency, as quickly as he could get to the office. At that meeting President Clarke found out that the “president” title would continue for at least another three years. He was called to be president of an English-speaking mission. In due time he found out the location. He and his wife would travel in early July to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where President Clarke would be president of the New England Mission. The call meant that plans to teach at Church College of Hawaii and the trip to England had to be canceled. At the conclusion of their mission, President Clarke wrote to M.D. Beal, “We fully expect to return to Rexburg and to make this area our permanent home.”
Rexburg Mayor Henry Shirley proclaimed April 27, 1971, as John L. Clarke Appreciation Day. Mayor Shirley proclaimed:
"Let it be known by all who read this proclamation being issued under my hand that the City of Rexburg wishes to pay tribute to John L. Clarke of Rexburg who has served long and faithfully as president of Ricks College and as church and community leader.
"We the city of Rexburg honor President Clarke for his many achievements as educator. We salute him for his devotion to duty as church member and as resident of this community. We admire him for his work in the area of civic responsibilities.
"He has indeed gone the extra mile on many occasions in the service of his fellow man. We honor him for being a good and faithful husband and father.
"He is entitled to our love and tribute this day we proclaim as his day."
A special public meeting that evening included a narrated slide show, presentation of ceremonial keys to the city, written and spoken accolades, and presentation of a quilt embroidered with names of forty-six campus clubs. Although the evening was not the conclusion of the tenure of President Clarke—he was not officially released until July 1—the evening was a fitting farewell. Erma Magleby, writing in the May Alumni Newsletter, noted that “there was such an outpouring of love and friendship and tribute paid this great man—that tears mingled with laughter and hearts overflowed.” She concluded, “Through [the entire program] all truly felt the ‘spirit of Ricks,’ this spirit of pioneers who builded well; of sacrifices gladly made; of pride in school and self; of desire to serve others; and of honor and love for this great and good man who has always exemplified the true spirit of Ricks to us all.”
The April 30, 1971, issue of the Viking Scroll was an eight-page tribute to President Clarke. Of several prominent people quoted, perhaps Melvin Hammond, a faculty member and assistant minority leader in the Idaho House of Representatives, summarized it best: “Occasionally this world produces a man whose life affects the lives of many—such a man is President John L. Clarke. . . . [He] is the kind of man whose arm is placed on your shoulders and his strength and sweet spirit lift you from depression and inspire you to try harder and to be a better person.” He continued, “He is indeed a man of unique character—filled with love, the spirit of the Lord shines from his countenance and all of us who know him love him.”
President Clarke summarized his feelings for Ricks in the May 1971 Ensign magazine:
"What makes Ricks College a truly great educational institution? It is not her campus, building, and grounds—though we now have many fine facilities, with many others yet to come under our approved master plan. It is not the number and diversity of the courses listed in the catalog—though these compare favorably with much larger colleges. It is not the size of the faculty—though we have a sizeable faculty who are well trained and who are constantly seeking improvement. It is not the size and diversity of the student body—though it represents the largest total enrollment of any of the approximately 180 church-supported two year colleges in America. It is not even the fact that Ricks is a private school and as such, is in the company of some of the greatest institutions in the country. That something extra that makes Ricks great is the comprehensive philosophy of life that permeates its curriculum, faculty, and student body—the divine philosophy encompassed in the gospel, or the “good news,” of Jesus Christ.
"I am a romanticist. I love Ricks College, its campus and buildings, its students and faculty, and its history and traditions. Ricks is a great educational institution."
President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke at baccalaureate on May 7, 1971. About 5,000 people filled the physical education auditorium to listen to the Prophet speak. In addition to the council given to 970 graduates, President Smith paid tribute to President Clarke. “President Clarke is a very able and good man and his service to the Church and here at Ricks College has been inestimable,” he said. “As president of Ricks for 27 years, he has inspired and guided young and old alike to seek learning, both by study and by faith, and to do those things which bring peace in this life and eternal glory in the life to come.” President Clarke gave his report at the evening commencement. He reviewed the history of the college and the development of the “spirit of Ricks” in his last message as president of the college. He counseled students “to show those with whom you come in contact what the Gospel of Jesus Christ can mean in the lives of young adults.” Although the setting was melancholy for President Clarke, his last message was inspiring to graduates.
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