Henry B. Eyring, a New Dimension
Dr. Henry B. Eyring was on the job early in July 1971. He assumed the presidency under favorable circumstances. The building program of the last ten years provided a modern physical plant estimated to accommodate 7,500 students. Faculty and administrators were well-educated, adroit teachers who personified gospel concepts. The staff was highly skilled and kept the numerous functions of the college in balance. An aggressive Alumni Association maintained far-flung contacts. Upper Snake River Valley citizens, notably those living in Rexburg, gave wholehearted support. The Church Board of Education generously provided means to maintain a first-rate institution.
President Eyring brought to Ricks special organizational talents, buttressed by a vital testimony of the gospel. His philosophical view of Ricks, recorded by Jerry Roundy, gives insight into how he used those talents:
"I have the view that this is the Lord’s school and the Lord will not let it get very far off the track. So I approach every situation this way—not that I will get revelation in the sense that I will get a voice to speak to me or that I would get a sense of certainty, although from time to time that does come—but rather that my job is to discern what the Lord already wants to do; not to create ideas nor to make decisions, but to discern what it is that He already has for His purpose and then just make that happen."
President Eyring had the ability to ask questions that stimulated thinking and demanded focused attention. Committees were set up to study every aspect of the curriculum and campus functions. In a few months President Eyring brought Dr. Harry J. Maxwell to campus as dean of academic affairs. Maxwell had been chancellor of the Washington County campus of the University of Wisconsin. He would be closely involved in campus studies and implementing changes, primarily reconfiguring administrative structure for departments and divisions.
One area that changed over the next few months and years was intercollegiate athletics. Several sports were dropped: men’s and women’s swimming, women’s softball, women’s field hockey, women’s gymnastics, tennis, skiing, and rodeo. Some continued to compete as clubs, but not as part of the athletic program. Several argued that baseball should be dropped, too. A year was unusual when at least one-third of the games were not canceled due to weather conditions. But, with the indoor fieldhouse perhaps the fortunes of the baseball team would improve. Added emphasis was given to major sports—football, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, cross country, and track and field for men and women. Even with all the changes, Viking athletic teams became the teams to beat in all sports. Numerous teams, individual athletes, and several coaches received conference, regional, and national honors.
President Eyring had been president for more than five months before he was officially inaugurated. During those months, two summer sessions were completed and the first semester of the 1971-1972 academic year was nearly over. A successful football season was completed under Coach Don Rydalch, and what would be successful men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling seasons were under way. Fiddler on the Roof, which was directed by Lyle Watson, had received critical acclaim. Construction progressed on the physical plant building. The Ricks College Development Office became part of the Church Educational Development System with Hal C. Barton appointed development officer at Ricks. The college marching band, directed by Noel Brown, was decked out in new uniforms for homecoming. Numerous alumni gathered at homecoming to meet President Eyring, renew old acquaintances, and rekindle the “spirit of Ricks.” Local merchants continued their financial support of the college with their annual 10 percent day. And knowledge was imparted, lessons learned, testimonies enlarged, and missionaries trained. By his inauguration, Dr. Eyring had a notion of what Ricks was and, perhaps, what Ricks could be.
Some research had to be done to find out how to properly inaugurate a college president. Nothing like that had happened at Ricks before. When John Clarke became president in 1944, World War II was on and not too much attention was paid to inauguration. But research done under the direction of Hal Barton’s inauguration committee ensured that President Eyring’s inauguration would be conducted with proper pomp and circumstance.
The Ricks College fieldhouse was packed to witness the inauguration of Henry B. Eyring as tenth president of Ricks on December 10, 1971. Darwin Wolford provided prelude music on the organ. The academic processional commenced to the familiar strains of “Coronation March” from The Prophet by Meyerbeer performed by the symphony orchestra conducted by LaMar Barrus. The processional was followed by the posting of colors by Boy Scout Troop 444 from the Lincoln Second Ward. Elder Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Church Board of Education, offered the invocation. President Harold B. Lee, the First Counselor in the First Presidency and the presiding authority, conducted the program. Greetings were then extended to President Eyring by Neal A. Maxwell, the Church Educational System commissioner; Michael L. Mulcady, the Associated Students of Ricks College president; Edward S. Malstrom, the Ricks College Faculty Association president; and T. Bardell Klingler, the Ricks College Alumni Association president. Greetings were followed by LaMar Barrus conducting the symphony orchestra in Dvorak’s Carnival Overture. President Lee then introduced Henry Eyring, President Eyring’s father and a distinguished professor of chemistry and metallurgy at the University of Utah, who gave the inaugural address. He spoke of his pride in his son and how the “harvest” of his son’s tenure “will be measured in successful lives, with their influence continuing for generations.” He also reminded those present of the high moral and dress standards at Ricks. “The Church by virtue of its comprehensive support is in a position to insist on Church standards at Ricks,” he said. “Preserving high standards in no way conflicts with the free agency of members of the student body.” If someone does not agree with Ricks’ standards, one could find another institution “which more nearly fit his needs.” Dr. Eyring concluded by stating that “attendance at Ricks College is a privilege open to those who meet those high standards of excellence in scholarship and in personal conduct. The purpose of Ricks is to build the whole man.”
Elder Marion G. Romney, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Church Board of Education, formally installed Henry B. Eyring as president of Ricks College and charged him to “endeavor to improve upon her past expanded physical facilities, enlarged student body and erudite faculty, which makes of her one of the major educational institutions of the Church.” He was to “help Ricks achieve her destiny as a teacher of spiritual truths.”
President Eyring spoke briefly about his view of the purpose of Ricks. He noted that while the college was located in agriculture-oriented southeastern Idaho and the needs of the area would dictate curriculum to a degree, the “community which should be served by [a Ricks] education is the whole world.” Further, “we must . . . find ways for this college to serve young people whose needs are shaped by a great variety of cultures and situations, and who may not be able to come to this campus.” By doing that, the obligation of the Church “to preach the gospel to every creature” will be, at least partially, fulfilled by Ricks College.
The conclusion of the inaugural program was a musical rendition of Wilhousky’s arrangement of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” performed by the college combined choirs and orchestra. Elder Paul H. Dunn, a member of the First Council of the Seventy and the Church Board of Education, pronounced the benediction. The recessional was to the music of Mendelssohn’s “Festival March,” played by the orchestra. Darwin Wolford then played organ postlude music.
President Eyring announced shortly after graduation in 1972 that his administrative staff was completed. He appointed Harry Maxwell, dean of academic affairs, to replace Hugh Bennion who had been dean of faculty for twenty-one years. M. Rex Bennion was appointed dean of administration; Mack G. Shirley, dean of student life; Daniel Hess, assistant to the president for external affairs and director of public relations; and Glen R. Erikson, director of development, replacing Hal Barton who became associate director of admissions and registration. Henry B. Isaksen was appointed coordinator of academic planning and new programs, and J. Clark Whitehead was named personnel services director.
After Dean Maxwell had time to consider the academic structure, he recommended that the existing ten academic divisions be reordered to five. Gaylin S. Fuller was appointed chairman of the Division of Instructional Service; Robert B. Powell, Division of Humanities and Performing Arts; Cleve R. Winkel, Division of Natural Sciences; Donald C. Rydalch, Division of Religious and Family Life; and Robert H. Todd, Division of Industrial and Social Sciences. Of the new divisions, only the Division of Industrial and Social Sciences seemed especially strange. Most faculty could not see any tie between industrial science and social science except the name “science.” By mid-1975, new academic configurations would divide Industrial and Social Sciences. With the new academic organization, lines of communication were fairly rigid—a noted departure from President Clarke’s administrative style.
One of the blessings of being president was the opportunity of speaking at devotionals and other assemblies. President Eyring was an eloquent speaker with impressive spirituality and intelligence. One of his duties was to introduce special speakers, who were often General Authorities of the Church. At the devotional assembly on March 28, 1972, Elder Spencer W. Kimball was on the stand. But the focus was on his wife, Camilla E. Kimball. This was the Women’s Week devotional assembly and Sister Kimball was presented the Exemplary Womanhood Award. The citation on the award said, in part, that she was chosen because “she is a woman who gives of her talents and services in the home, church and community.” She exemplified the Women’s Week theme: “Womanhood is an eternal and divine project.”
Final plans were completed early in 1972 for another major building on campus. The building would house the family living, nursing, and health education programs, as well as the health center. Three construction companies submitted bids with Davis Construction Company of Rexburg submitting the low bid of $2,537,000. Some late decisions were made about the location of the student health center in the building, but the changes were easily accommodated.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted April 10, 1972, by Daniel Hess for the new building. Among the honored guests were two sisters, Annie Kerr and Elizabeth Stowell, who were daughters of Jacob Spori, the first Ricks administrator. They turned over a ceremonial shovel of dirt with President Eyring. Elizabeth Stowell, who was born in 1888, the year the school was founded, was quoted as saying, “Our father was a visionary man. He said he had a vision that some day this hill would be covered with buildings.” She concluded that “in these ceremonies we see the vision of our father being literally fulfilled.” Both women had attended every groundbreaking ceremony on the campus. President Eyring, noting the history of the college, said, “This building is possible because of the fortitude of great men and women over the years.” Helen Lamprecht, co-chairman of the Division of Family Living, commented, “We are so grateful to have this new Family Living Center at a time when the importance of family is being destroyed in the world.” The center “will be a beacon to church members and the world—a place where one can come to learn of the importance of the family.” The expected building completion date was July 1973.
Ruth Biddulph was honored by the faculty as Teacher of the Year in 1972. In two paragraphs from her well-crafted honors lecture presented in April, she said much about literature and art—and Ricks:
"The unique experience that Ricks College can—and I believe does—give students in great literature and all art is that it puts it in the spiritual framework of the gospel. It is this amalgamation of the spiritual and the aesthetic that can bring about a true renaissance in today’s literature. Admittedly, we do not go to literature for the revelation of great truths; great literature generally asks more questions than it answers. It is in the revealed word of the Lord that we find answers. But the complex human questions, the questions that troubled Job and Oedipus and Hamlet, the questions that the masterpieces of the world have struggled over were all posed against a world of faith and belief. And it is that spiritual framework that is our unique contribution to the cultural world of today.
"[Part of Lincoln’s 'Gettysburg Address' was used as the basis for this paragraph.] . . . This is holy ground. The Lord’s purposes have been sought here from the beginning. This school has been consecrated and hallowed by sacrifice beyond our comprehension, and by devotion and by inspiration. In the very heart of a rugged pioneer and rural environment, it has been sweetened and refined as a center for spirituality, knowledge, and culture. These values have been translated into the lives and families of its alumni who have assumed positions of leadership all over the world. The most conspicuous tradition of this school has been a very special, intimate, family spirit. I felt it here as a student and I have felt it as a teacher. It has resisted worldliness and has uplifted the pure in heart. These treasures of the past we must not lose as we grow in numbers and attempt to meet the high purposes and challenges of the future. It is for us here to dedicate our lives to the forever 'unfinished work which has been thus far so nobly advanced.'"
President Eyring conducted his first baccalaureate service and commencement program May 4 and 5, 1972. President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency spoke at baccalaureate to the 1,090 graduates. “One of the greatest things you . . . can do is to make up your mind to be an individual, to take an individual responsibility of learning the truth and doing the things that are workable and right, and not lose yourself in the senseless emulation of the crowd.” President Tanner concluded with the admonition to each graduate “to contribute to a better community and a better world.”
President Eyring noted in his address to the graduates that the class of 1972 came from forty-three states and nine foreign countries. He counseled graduates to continue to study, develop testimonies, and improve their communities.
Students registering for the fall semester of 1972 found a change in ecclesiastical structure. In May 1972, Church President JosephFielding Smith announced that all college wards were to be changed to branches. The General Authorities determined that college wards more closely approximated branches than wards. By having branches, branch presidents could be called from the student population. A branch president did not need to be ordained a high priest as did a bishop. Students were divided among twenty-five branches in the two college stakes.
Elder Delbert L. Stapley of the Quorum of the Twelve presided at the dedication of two buildings as part of homecoming. Prior to his address and dedicatory prayer, President Eyring paid tribute to John William Hart, for whom the physical education building was named, and Mark Austin, for whom the industrial science building was named. He noted that both men had been instrumental in preserving Ricks College. Both had served on the college Board of Education during times of change and stress. “These great men did not serve in vain for we are blessed because of them,” President Eyring emphasized. Elder Stapley exhorted youth in attendance to “give your allegiance to the Church and its teachings. Be courageous in keeping the commandments of God. Live exemplary lives. Strengthen the image of the Church by so doing. Devote yourselves to building the kingdom of God on earth.” He continued, “You have the sweet spiritual environment of Ricks to build a solid foundation for a fruitful, rewarding life.” Many descendants of Hart and Austin were at the dedication.
Almost everything about homecoming seemed perfect. This was the earliest homecoming had been in many years, and the weather was great. The parade was large, with many floats and several high school marching bands. The college marching band was conspicuous by its absence. (At its October 12, 1972, meeting, the Alumni Council decided to write a letter to President Eyring “encouraging him to reinstate a marching band at Ricks College.”) The Vikings won the football game thanks to freshman kicker Mark Uselman. A special feature was the reunion of missionaries who served in Australia from 1920-1923. The missionaries at the reunion honored one of their fellow missionaries: Elder Marion G. Romney. He had hoped to attend the reunion, but had responsibilities at a conference in Mexico. He sent his greetings.
During the fall semester of 1972, four pilot programs were instituted with approval of the Church Board of Education. As noted in the November 4 Church News, the programs were designed to “help students make career decisions, develop learning and writing skills, teach small groups and apply gospel learning in their lives.” The pilot programs were the result of committees organized by President Eyring “to study ways to give students more help with achieving personal goals.” If the programs proved successful, they would continue and become part of the five-year academic plan being developed for the college.
Although President Marion G. Romney had not been able to attend homecoming, he was on campus in December to participate in Christmas Week activities. After visiting Christmas Tree Lane on December 12, he spoke to the student body in the Hart Auditorium. He gave a stirring discourse on the theme “Jesus of Nazareth, Who Was He?” Christmas Week concluded on December 17 with the annual performance of Messiah. Under the direction of Richard Robison, the music department invited five high schools to send choirs to participate in the performance. Ricks’ combined choirs provided 320 voices and the high schools provided another 400. Each choir had been assigned a particular chorus. All joined in the “Hallelujah Chorus” and “Worthy Is the Lamb.”
Late in 1972, President Eyring announced that an 83,000 square feet addition to the McKay Library had been approved and construction would be under way early in 1973. The Alumni Council voted to raise $85,000 to apply toward the addition. If each alumni paid $3, the goal could be reached. To assist in raising funds, about twenty-five students a night for four nights participated in the first annual college “telefund.” They called some 1,800 alumni and asked for donations for the library. About $4,500 was pledged.
Friends of the Library acquired two book collections that would go into the new facility. John F. Evans, Jr., of Council Bluffs, Iowa, donated books on Church history and comparative religion in memory of his father, John F. Evans, Sr. Henry G. Hillier of New York City donated several hundred books on western history, business, and geography. Another donation, deposited in the rare book collection, was a first edition of the Book of Mormon. When state Senator Dick Smith and his brother, John, were notified that the book had been offered to the college, they donated $1,000 to purchase the book from a Denver, Colorado, bookshop. Dick and John Smith made the donation as a tribute to their mother and father.
Glen R. Erikson, the director of development, arranged the largest trust fund donated to the college to date. Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Groberg, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Price, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Holm made the donation. President Eyring commented, “We are so grateful for such a generous gift given by residents of the area who have shown by their dedication to the Church and the rearing of wonderful families that they truly exemplify lives of service and love.”
Early in 1973, a new radio station could be heard. KRIC were the call letters of the college FM station. Students and faculty did all programming. Kay Wilkins was director of broadcast services and John Haeberle was station manager. Local and national Public Broadcasting Service programming were broadcast, including the weekly Metropolitan Opera broadcast from Lincoln Center in New York City.
Three of the “old guard” retired at the end of the academic year. Hugh Bennion, J. Wendell Stucki, and Lowell Biddulph had been on the faculty forty-two, thirty-six, and thirty-four years, respectively. Also retiring at the end of summer school, which he directed, was Donald Merrill who had taught seventeen years. The contribution of each to the college is incalculable. Bennion presented the honors lecture at the annual Faculty Association banquet.
Receiving awards at graduation were nine Spori Scholars. They were honored at a special dinner on May 8, 1973. President Eyring initiated the program to give special recognition to the best and brightest graduates. The first Spori Scholars were JanetMarie Johnson, Kristine Jacobs, GaryLee Harris, Nyla Sauer, Marie Briscoe, Brian Cooper, Debra Loveless, Keith Kingsford, and Linda Allred.
President Eyring gave his report at commencement on May 10. He reminded the more than 1,000 graduates that Ricks College “is a college of the Lord Jesus Christ. We humbly but clearly bear His name.” Also Ricks is part of the worldwide Church education system and the graduates “were part of the standard being raised in these last days.”
Students attending summer school in 1973 had several choices in addition to the usual classes held in classrooms. They could enroll in the Academy of Fine Arts, travel with Ed Williams on the annual natural science field expedition, or attend Discovery ’73, a biology summer camp in Island Park directed by R. Lynn Speth and Richard L. Clark. Those staying on campus found they did not attend classes on Friday. The four-day school week was being piloted, but it did not last.
The August 1973 Today, a Brigham Young University alumni publication, carried the bold headline “$800,000 Gift Donated to BYU, Ricks.” The gift of stock was made by several donors who wished to remain anonymous. Ricks College received $263,333 in unrestricted funds. The announcement of the gift was made by Ben E. Lewis, BYU executive vice president, and Donald T. Nelson, director of Church Education Development, at a BYU luncheon on July 26. The gift was a great boon to Ricks and BYU.
Enrollment for fall semester of 1973 was down about 200 students from the year before. Yet more and more top high school students were choosing Ricks as a first choice over other colleges and universities. “I firmly believe that these students chose Ricks because of what it can offer them,” commented President Eyring at the opening faculty meeting. The faculty’s responsibility was to “help these young people who expect so much from you.” Henry Isaksen, the director of the honors program, commented that of the more than 200 students in the program, thirteen were high school valedictorians.
Students returning to Ricks noticed that the college had a new logo. The Viking symbol was replaced by a symbol with a tree design. President Eyring had initiated a design competition for a new symbol that gave “emphasis to spiritual rather than temporal values.” Richard E. Bird, the director of the department of publications, won the competition. He explained the symbol in a letter to faculty and staff:
The tree, traditionally a symbol of longevity and deep-rooted integrity, has been adopted as the symbol for Ricks College. The symbol was chosen because of its link with the history of the school. In 1890 Jacob Spori, the first principal of the Bannock Stake Academy, made a prophecy that the Academy would grow from an acorn into a towering oak whose branches would reach around the world. This prophecy was in the form of a prayer and a commandment for the recently founded academy. In the eighty-two years since President Spori made this prophecy, the Bannock Stake Academy, an elementary school with fewer than 100 students, has grown into a college with an enrollment of over 5,000. The branches of Ricks College are reaching around the world through the influence of our foreign students, missionaries, and alumni.
Bird also noted the many scriptural references to trees that influenced the design. He explained that "the structure within the Ricks College tree forms three distinct circular shapes, symbolically representing the Godhead and priesthood authority or leadership, i.e., Godhead comprises three personages. Likewise the First Presidency, the Stake Presidency, Bishopric, etc.
The three circular shapes are held together with three lines representing total unity.
The encasement surrounding the interior represents the full life cycle. Earth to heaven. Heaven to earth. A never ending union."
Not only did the school have a new symbol, but students had the opportunity during registration to make a symbolic gesture. For a dollar they could write their name on a brick to be used in the new library addition. More than $600 was raised for the Alumni Council’s Library Endowment Fund during registration. The Alumni Council, which was having a hard time getting money for the library addition out of alumni, decided that selling bricks had worked so well they would do the same thing at homecoming.
Homecoming on October 23-27, 1973, was outstanding. The parade, emphasizing the theme “Yesterday Once More,” was the “best I’ve seen in 43 years,” commented an alumnus. Homecoming queen was Junko Tamaoki, an art major from Tokyo, Japan. Class reunions of all classes ending with “three” were well attended with special attention given to a reunion of the 1923 football team and Coach Clyde Packer. The team and wives were seated in a special section and added their voices to cheer the Vikings on to a 52-7 blowout of Treasure Valley Community College. Also honored were members of the 1923 championship basketball team. Alumni were invited to visit the new Alumni House and meet the new executive secretary, Gary Brock, who had replaced Glen Erikson.
The President of the Church, Harold B. Lee, spoke at the homecoming devotional assembly on October 26. The largest crowd ever to assemble in Hart Auditorium came to listen to the Prophet. Closed circuit television was used so those who were not among the 5,000 in the auditorium could watch and listen from several locations. President Lee responded to the national turmoil engendered by the so-called Watergate scandal (which would lead to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974). In a forceful address, part of which was published in the Los Angeles Times on November 11, 1973, President Lee said, “We are living in a time of great crisis. The country is torn with scandal and criticism, with fault-finding and condemnation, and there are those who have downgraded the image of this nation probably as never before in history.” Yet the nation would stand. “Men may fail in this country. Earthquakes may come; seas may heave themselves beyond their bounds; there may be drought, disaster and hardship,” the Prophet said. “But this nation, founded upon principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail.” Furthermore, “critics are striking at the underpinnings of one of the greatest of all the nations of all the world . . . a nation that was founded upon an inspired declaration we call the Constitution which the Lord said was written by men whom he raised up for that very purpose.” President Lee concluded by saying that the Church is “one of the most powerful agencies for progress in the world.” He urged all to speak “with one voice” and express their confidence “in the nation and its destiny and mission. I have faith in America. You and I must have faith in America if we understand the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
As the assembly concluded, student-body president Steven Flint presented President Lee with a tribute written by English faculty member Dorla Jenkins and several of her students. In part, the tribute said, “Thanks be to God that we live in a prophet’s time, when his inspired leadership draws us closer to standing in those holy places where we prayerfully await Christ’s second coming.” Other tributes were given to President Lee. Dewain Silvester, the president of the Alumni Association, presented President Lee with an Oliver Parson painting of the Tetons as a gift from alumni. Darwin Wolford wrote music for a song written by fellow faculty member Donnell Hunter. The song, “Glorious Is the Voice We Hear,” was sung by the A Cappella Choir. President Lee graciously accepted the gifts. He stayed in Rexburg to ride in the homecoming parade and watch the football game on Saturday before returning to Salt Lake City. President Eyring voiced his testimony of President Lee as a prophet at the Sunday evening fireside for students, and added, “Let me tell you that he loves you and he showed his love by coming here to be on campus with you.” President Lee’s words took on added significance when news was received on December 26, 1973, that President Lee had died unexpectedly.
Classes were in session at the beginning of spring semester in the new family living complex. Tours of the building convinced everyone that the building was a first-rate facility. President Eyring announced plans were being developed for a technological agriculture program that would include beef, dairy, and horse production and management, agronomy, and, possibly, horticulture and land management. President Eyring had talked early in his tenure of the need for a strong agriculture program. Auxiliary services and plant sciences buildings were approved with construction soon to start. The library addition moved along on schedule until a strike by several craft unions at the Teton Dam site early in June. Union craftsmen working on the library joined the strike. As a result of the strike, dam construction was set back over a year—construction was due to be completed in October 1975—and the library addition was thrown several weeks behind schedule.
Early in January, students and faculty spent as much time indoors as possible. The outside temperature was far below zero for several days. To know that the first Alumni Association tour to sunny Hawaii was a success only created envy on campus. However, envy was a self-defeating behavior. That situation could be handled by attending a self-defeating behavior workshop in the counseling center. Vance Hendricks, Dan Peck, Jay Risenmay, and Robert Telford had developed the program from which many students and others benefited.
While alumni were in Hawaii, the college program bureau was finalizing plans to take dancing groups to Europe. Rehearsals were under way early in the semester. Robert Oliphant, the coordinator of the dance department, assisted by faculty members Charles West, Caroline Prohosky, and Terry Jessop, choreographed the “Dance American Style” program. The dancers were acclaimed wherever they performed, whether in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Canada, or Spokane, Washington. Starting on April 23, the tour, under the direction of John Thompson, took almost a month. In addition to packed performances, the dancers handed out several hundred copies of the Book of Mormon.
Commencement activities for the class of 1974 began with the Spori Scholars, honors program, and Phi Theta Kappa banquet on April 22. The following afternoon graduates listened to former Secretary of the Treasury and United States Ambassador at Large David M. Kennedy. He had been appointed by the First Presidency as special consultant for Church diplomatic affairs. He talked about problems of the affluent society, urging graduates to be more concerned “with the human and spiritual side of life than the financial and economic.” President Eyring presented Kennedy with the Distinguished Service Award. In the evening, the alumni banquet was held in the fieldhouse on the recently installed floor covering. More than 1,600 alumni attended, including the more than 900 members of the class of 1974. Among the many honored at the banquet was Steven Flint, the student-body president. He had competed against some 200 students from 100 junior colleges and won first in extemporaneous speaking. Alan Bossard, the debate coach, was accustomed to his debate teams winning—they had amassed more trophies over the past two years than they had room for—but winning a national competition was a first.
Commencement was on April 24, 1974. President Eyring gave the annual president’s report. “But the real report is inside you,” he told the graduates. “Not inside your neighbor. What happened to you while you were here? The changes that took place in some of the students. Some goals set. This is the real report.” With the customary singing of “Happy Ties,” graduation was completed.
Another graduation took place on May 30, 1974, at the end of the first session of summer school. Fifty students received diplomas. With the inauguration of summer school graduation, students who completed the three to six credits needed to graduate no longer had to wait for the following year to officially graduate.
Several alumni who missed the Hawaii trip, or some who wanted to take another trip, signed up for the Temples and Holy Land Tour sponsored by Brigham Young University and Ricks alumni. They left Salt Lake City early in July. Daniel Hess was one of the tour guides. The tour was more memorable than expected. The tour had not left Israel on schedule and when they arrived in Greece they had missed the scheduled charter flight to Zurich. They were to have left on July 21. Once they missed their flight, they began to wonder if they would get out of Greece at all. They were right in the middle of the Greece-Cyprus imbroglio, and they were confined to their Athens hotel. Robert Taylor, the BYU travel studies chairman, was able to make contact with Hess. Hess told him that the group was “under some stress” with tanks rumbling in the streets and the threat of a coup, although no threats had been made against tourists. The seventy-two members of the tour group got on the first flight out of Athens since the trouble began on July 24. They flew to London, then caught a commercial flight to Chicago. From there they returned to Salt Lake City. They had had more memorable experiences than were advertised for the tour.
Former Ricks President John Clarke and his wife, LaRae, were released from the presidency of the New England Mission in July 1974. They were invited to speak at a devotional early in September. President Clarke concluded as the bell rang. He sat down. Usually the closing prayer follows the end of the address. But on that day, President Eyring stood and said he had an announcement to make. The Church Board of Education had authorized the family living, nursing, and health building to be named for President Clarke. The announcement was met with applause and stunned President Clarke. He managed to express his appreciation and noted that “they only name buildings after dead people and I’m not dead yet.” He received a standing ovation. Most of the students in attendance were not on campus when Clarke was president. But they had all heard about him, and they were touched by his humility. The building name was a fitting tribute to a man whose fortitude had brought the Viking ship to a safe harbor.
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