World War II and the Manwaring - Clarke transition
When students began registering for fall quarter in September 1940, they found a new policy in place. During previous years when economic conditions had been horrible, students were allowed to defer paying fees by signing notes or obligations of labor or produce. Deferred payment was still possible, but it was discouraged by requiring a $1 processing fee, parents’ signatures on the notes (students had one week to get their parents to sign or their registration would be dropped), a $10 down payment had to accompany the deferred payment request, and all notes were due and payable in full sixty days after the quarter commenced. Furthermore, a deferred payment committee was established that had to approve student requests. With a favorable financial climate, Ricks was joining other institutions of higher education that were developing their own plans to get a greater percentage of fees paid at registration.
The expanded religious education curriculum was another change quickly noticed by returning students. The Church commissioner’s staff had developed a standard study course for its schools and institutes. Students in religious education took specific courses during each of the six quarters needed to graduate.
The fifty-third academic year started with more than 285 registrants compared to 240 the previous year. By week’s end, more than 330 had registered.
Students seemed satisfied with the slogan selected for the year: “While we are preparing to defend our lives, let us prepare to live abundantly.”
“Preparing to defend our lives” had more than passing significance for young men registering at Ricks. Men who were eighteen and over were aware they soon would be required to register in their home county for the first peacetime draft in American history.
Although the United States was not at war, most of the rest of the world was. By 1940, the United States was clearly siding with the allied powers against the dictators. Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt considered a peacetime draft prudent to ensure prepared soldiers in case the international conflict directly threatened the United States. Perhaps a show of preparedness would serve notice that expanding the conflict to include the United States would be foolhardy.
Young men had a hard time concentrating on school activities, at least until after the national lottery was held to select the first draftees. More than 1,000 young men had registered in Madison County by October 16. Full names had to be used when registering and the list was published. Everyone could now learn what had often been a well-kept secret: middle names! “It’s just one more thing that we have against Hitler,” one observer quipped. The national lottery on October 29 was directed by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. When the numbers were drawn and sequence known, the college football and basketball players, and especially Coach Biddulph, breathed a sigh of relief. No member of either team had been chosen high enough in the lottery that they had to worry about military service very soon. The local draft board was required to classify those who had high lottery numbers. Of the first fifty, only thirteen received the 1-a classification. The others qualified for one or more of several deferments.
Fall quarter ended and winter quarter (with more than 285 registered by the Christmas holiday) began with a close watch kept on the military situation. A local unit of the Idaho National Guard had been organized and designated as Battery G of the 183rd Field Artillery. They trained as an antitank unit. The college’s Playmore Hall was used as a temporary armory until anticipated military armory specifications arrived. Then a building was to be built or a building remodeled to conform to specifications. The first training session had been in Playmore Hall on October 7, 1940. Drills were held every Monday. Joining the guard was encouraged, in part as a way to obtain a draft deferment. Not explained was the fact that joining could get a person mobilized quicker than if drafted. On April 14, 1941, soldiers of Battery G paraded down Rexburg’s Main Street. Playing martial music, the college band led the parade. The soldiers were on their way for training at Fort Frances E. Warren in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Patriotic fervor was abundant.
A new section was added to Leadership Week: international affairs. “Grave problems confronting our troubled world” were to be discussed, President Manwaring explained. Joseph L. Wirthlin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, was the presiding ecclesiastical authority. By design, little emphasis was placed on more traditional religious-oriented sessions such as genealogy and Church doctrine. “Those subjects in L.D.S. church activities that are thoroughly covered in church conferences and convention will be omitted from this year’s leadership event,” President Manwaring noted. Certainly, to maintain integrity of the chosen theme “Faith in a World of Confusion,” faith was interpreted by the speakers and teachers in the context of their particular presentation.
Presiding Bishop LeGrand Richards was at Ricks to speak at the Church seminary youth convention on May 3, 1941. The convention was an opportunity to advertise Ricks and Rexburg, and downtown service clubs joined the college in developing the conference program. Each student was given a pin on which Ricks was pictured. The seminary convention, coupled with the annual high school seniors and Girls Day on campus, brought a significant number of potential students to campus. With the likelihood that young men over age eighteen would continue to have their attention diverted for the foreseeable future either waiting for their draft number or with National Guard training, an ongoing, vigorous recruitment campaign was needed to keep the college functioning.
President Manwaring spent most of the last three weeks of spring quarter talking to seniors in about forty Upper Snake River Valley high schools. “Everywhere I have gone I have been received very courteously,” he said. He hoped that “a most congenial feeling . . . being developed toward our local college” would translate into student attendance.
Freshmen entrance examinations kicked off the 1941-1942 school year on September 22, 1941. First-day registration was down from the previous year. Many young men who would have registered stayed home to help harvest crops or prepare for military duty. Because of the lack of young men due to the national defense program, football was canceled. Coach Biddulph announced a wide variety of intramural contests designed to keep everyone in good health. Especially invited to participate were young men below draft age. They needed to be in good condition for the time when they would register and perhaps be drafted.
To help with student socialization, a student union room was provided in the Spori Building. Furniture was ordered from San Francisco. Richard “Dick” Davis, the student-body president, led a drive to solicit funds for a phonograph and radio for the student union. Each class pledged fifty cents per member. The class getting the most students to sign up won a cash prize.
Upon the urging of M.D. Beal, the American Legion changed Armistice Day to Defense Day. He pointed out that the “present state of world events has completely disclaimed the armistice idea. While we are grateful for success of arms in 1918 we have reason to regret our indifference to world events since that time. The people of Idaho should discard traditional attitudes of isolationism.” Furthermore, “they should rebuke their present congressional leaders and take a definite stand for the defense of our true traditions and institutions.”
The American Legion and Ricks combined Defense Day and Founders Day celebrations on November 11, 1941. The college sponsored a parade with bands, floats, and pep clubs; Dr. Harold T. Christensen from Brigham Young University gave a patriotic address; and a reception was held for alumni, students, and college patrons. Because there was no Ricks football team, college alumni and patrons were invited to attend the Madison versus Sugar-Salem high school football game. At halftime, Coach Biddulph held intramural contests, which served as homecoming for the year. A dance concluded the day.
The Faculty Women club was organized on November 16, 1941, to include women faculty and wives of male faculty members. Officers elected were Edna Ricks, president; Bessy Beal, vice president; and Rachel Bennion, secretary and treasurer. The object of the organization was to foster “social and cultural development of the students and faculty women, and promotion of the ideals of the school.” During the next few years, club members worked hard on campus activities and, in addition, worked hard promoting and aiding the war effort.
Returning to classes on December 8, students were aware that their world had changed the day before—December 7, 1941. Much of the American Pacific fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, had been bombed by Japanese naval and air forces. Everyone was stunned. That the United States would now enter the war on the allies’ side against the dictators was certain. President Roosevelt, with approval of Congress, issued the declaration of war on December 8. Now all theories about preparedness, patriotism, and democracy would be tested.
Early in January 1942, President Manwaring announced plans for Leadership Week on February 10 to 12. Religious, political, and educational leaders were to be in Rexburg to address the theme: “The free agency of man is the greatest fundamental principle of human progress and good government.” About one week after the announcement, word was received that the Church was developing a policy of “retrenchment” and events such as Leadership Week were to be canceled. With reluctance, a disappointed President Manwaring advertised the cancellation. He felt the theme would have provided informative discussion and interpretation of the war. That year would have been the program’s twentieth. The president sent out information explaining the “role of the school in the war.” He sent the following statement to several newspapers:
"This is a time when young minds, true hearts, and steady hands must grapple with new and strange conditions. They must bring order and stability again out of confusion and chaos. They must bring back the security and loveliness to American homes and communities and make human hearts happy with the loveliness of life.
"The administration of Ricks College has full faith that the students going from this institution will cherish and practice the Christian standards, and the American way of life; and that they will make full contribution to the preservation and renewal of all that is lovely and beautiful in the life of men."
College faculty and students were quickly caught up in demands being made on the home front. They registered with the Civilian Defense Committee to do volunteer work where needed and with the Home Defense Corps to protect the area against sabotage. They cooperated with tire and gasoline rationing programs, participated in scrap metal and rubber drives, and bought defense stamps and war bonds. Young women wore corsages made of defense stamps rather than flowers to the annual Bachelor Club formal. Students volunteered to help the local Red Cross chapter, as did Faculty Women club members. Several signed up to take the Red Cross life-saving course being offered on campus. Students surveyed the campus, locating the best places to plant “victory gardens.” The freshman class play seemed especially apt: What a Life.
Not all attention was on the war. The college basketball team did very well, especially during the last part of the season. They received an invitation to participate in the Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournament held in mid-March in Denver, Colorado. The invitation caused substantial excitement. Because the college was in no position to totally finance the trip, the community went to work. A benefit dance and basketball game were held. Chamber of Commerce members and others contributed enough funds for the Vikings to go to Denver. They won their first game against Oklahoma Southwest School of Technology, then lost their second against Dow Chemical of Michigan, and came home. But Ricks College and Rexburg had been well advertised.
Ricks approved enrolling seventeen-year-olds who were still in high school. Those students could get a quarter or two of college credit before their eighteenth birthday when they became eligible for the draft. Testing was required, but those with acceptable scores could join the Navy V-1 program. Pending successful completion of prescribed courses with acceptable grades, those men would not be drafted, but could get two years of college paid for by the Navy. Those accepted into the Army program had to attend the thirteen-week boot camp for further evaluation. If accepted, they would then be allowed to attend Ricks. Those accepted by the Navy would go directly to Ricks. In both cases, students would be military personnel, wear the appropriate uniform, and conform to military discipline. All their expenses would be paid. Artell Chapman, Eldred Stephenson, and Oswald Christensen administered the program.
Spring term began on March 23, 1942, but numbers were down. Many students withdrew to help farmers with spring planting. The addition of the agricultural department beginning with the 1942-1943 school year was a new development. Announcing the change, Commissioner Franklin West speculated that in the future more than 800 would be enrolled at Ricks, and, given the location of the college in a farming area, expanded offerings in agriculture seemed appropriate. Learning better farming methods also could benefit the war effort. And, just maybe, more young people would stay on the farm after learning the latest farming techniques. The Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, in which the Church held a controlling interest, offered six scholarships to students enrolled in the new agricultural curriculum. Nelson-Ricks Creamery of Rexburg also offered several scholarships. Commissioner West announced that adding another year to the elementary teacher education curriculum also was being considered.
Recruiting efforts to increase student numbers continued. Getting girls to the college was not too hard, but getting young men was a challenge. In addition to the draft, young men were being encouraged to enlist in the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, Navy Aviation, Marines, and Coast Guard. By joining the Merchant Marines or by being employed in an industry essential to aiding the war effort such as railroading, a young man could be exempt from the draft.
Fifty of the seventy-six members of the class of 1942 graduates were women, and by far the largest number of graduates received associate degrees in education. J. Reuben Clark, First Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke words of encouragement and counsel at commencement:
"When I first came into the Presidency I heard that you were trying to get the state to take over Ricks College. I said nothing about it particularly because it was a policy already determined. Twice since then you have made sincere efforts to get the state to take you over. Each time I hoped and prayed that the state would not do so. And I want to say to you people tonight that this is not a sudden conversion under the spur of the spirit of this meeting, but it is a settled judgment after much reflection that you will never be turned over to the state if I can in any way prevent it. There is a place in the Church for the Church school and you in this area, with your loyalty, integrity, your righteous living, your desire to serve God, and to keep his commandments, are entitled to a Church school in your midst.
"As you young people go out from here into the realities of life—realities that are more stern and terrible than most of us, your parents and grandparents have known—you will, if you permit yourselves to be, be wafted about by one doctrine after another. . . .
"Now my Brothers and Sisters, and particularly you graduates, I pray the Lord will bless you as you go out. You do face a serious task and my heart aches for you, when I think of how you are being thrown into certain attitudes of mind particularly preparing you if necessary for the great sacrifice. . . .
"If we live as we should live, if we follow His Commandments, keep His Commandments, live righteously, His peace will be your peace. That is not the peace from conflict; that is not the peace that comes from no care and from luxury; it is the peace that comes into your hearts. The peace that dwells and the peace that gives you faith and hope and charity. It is the peace that comes . . . from the knowledge of a righteous life lived out."
When prospective students received the college bulletin advertising fall quarter, they read about the new agriculture program as well as about an agreement that had been made with the armed forces: If a student desired to enlist in the Army or Navy and attend college, he could get two years of his training at Ricks. The cost to stay in the college dormitory was only $19.50 per month. Students wanting to take advantage of the military program would find that when inducted they “can have a better place because they are educationally prepared,” as well as giving “a decided advantage again when they return to civilian life.” Officers from branches of the armed services were on campus shortly after school started to answer all questions. Coach Biddulph hoped enough young men would take advantage of the program to sustain athletic teams.
Students were dismissed from fall quarter classes at noon on October 6, 1942, to help in the harvest. Children of farming families went home. All other students and faculty members were encouraged to help farmers in the Rexburg area. The Federal Employment Service would pay for work in potatoes and beets if farmers could not pay. The labor situation was critical with so many young men gone to war.
College commenced again on October 24 when harvest appeared completed. To get the required number of hours in the quarter, President Manwaring announced that “school will need to be held several Saturdays and the ordinary Christmas holiday will be eliminated.” After all, “the war is on, and the faculty and students of Ricks are willing to give their best in both personal and public good.” Those who planned to wait until after the harvest to register could still register because all students would be making up work anyway.
Many items of interest in The Rexburg Journal during 1943 related to present and former Ricks College students registering for the draft, being drafted, being called to active duty from reserve units, joining various services, being commissioned as officers, writing home from battle fronts or prisoner of war camps, receiving commendations for bravery, and being reported as killed or missing in action. Others had gone to shipyards or military bases to work as civilians.
Coach Biddulph had a hard time getting teams to play basketball games. Some games were canceled, some were postponed, some were pick-up games. Two games played against an Army team from the Pocatello Army Air Base were played in the college gymnasium on January 15 and 16, 1943. Although the Army team was made up of former college basketball players, they had little practice time and were easily defeated by the Vikings. Coach Biddulph’s team finished the season with an eight-win, five-loss record. By defeating Boise Junior College—the last game of the season—Ricks laid claim to the Idaho junior college title.
President Manwaring encouraged all seventeen-year-old seniors to register at the college spring quarter on March 12. High school principals cooperated with the program by either giving students diplomas when they left for college or agreed to allow them to receive their diplomas at the high school commencement with their classmates. For fall quarter 1943-1944, the program was expanded to include seventeen-year-old students who had completed their junior year in high school. They could enroll at Ricks even though they had not attended their senior year. Those students were to be carefully screened and judged able to handle the more rigorous college curriculum.
Graduation ceremonies for the class of 1943 began with baccalaureate on May 23 in the tabernacle. A former Ricks faculty member, Dr. Ray J. Davis of the University of Idaho Southern Branch at Pocatello, delivered the sermon. Guest speaker at commencement was Elder Richard L. Evans of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was well known as editor of The Improvement Era and as the voice of the Tabernacle Choir heard on KSL radio from Salt Lake City. A reception and graduation dance were held, but there was no alumni gathering because a substantial number of alumni, at least of recent years, had gone to war.
Summer school in 1943 was geared to former teachers returning to the profession or students wanting to become teachers. Because of war, many schools were short on faculty. Those schools looked to Ricks and other Idaho institutions to provide training during the summer for prospective teachers they could hire for fall. Several seventeen-year-old students attended summer school expecting to continue at Ricks in the fall.
President Manwaring was enthusiastic about the fact that seven-teen-year-olds could register at Ricks for the 1943-1944 school year. Even those who would turn eighteen soon and be eligible for the draft were encouraged to register and continue school until being drafted rather than just waiting at home. Parents were assured that Ricks was the place for their young men. The Church had “provided a favorable place for their children” where they “can be assured of a security that only the Church can give in these days of disrupted standards of life.”
Commissioner West also visited Ricks and local seminaries before school commenced in the fall. He was especially concerned that Latter-day Saint students register for religious classes in high school seminaries or at the college. He said, “The influence and teaching of these institutions will do much to offset the general tendency toward carelessness and delinquency which now exists.”
President Manwaring said that the “school program at Ricks College has not been disturbed by the military requirements; and the boys and girls of southeastern Idaho can carry forward their college work under normal conditions.”
Registration for fall quarter on September 21, 1943, showed a “substantial increase in women students, but quite a decrease in men.” Even seventeen-year-olds did not show up in expected numbers.
A change had taken place in the lives of three college teachers. Artell Chapman, Eldred Stephenson, and Hugh Bennion had been “called up.” Chapman went to the University of Idaho to teach naval training courses; Stephenson received an officer’s commission in the Navy and temporarily was assigned duty at the Agricultural College in Logan, Utah, awaiting attendance at the Navy Supply School in Wellesley, Massachusetts; and Bennion accepted a position as a counselor at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
Several from the local community received a nice surprise in the mail from President Manwaring early in November. They had participated in raising money for the college dormitory, and their money had been secured by notes from the college. They had received, about a year before, the interest and about 20 percent of the note principal. Many had assumed that was all they would get and would simply consider the rest a donation. They now received the balance due, giving them funds to purchase war bonds.
Founders Day on November 11, 1943, was combined again with the local American Legion program. A highlight of the program was a skit entitled “An Open Letter to the Occupied Countries” performed by young women of the college. Former Ricks student Quincy Jensen, home on furlough, assisted in the skit.
Winter quarter commenced on December 10. President Manwaring encouraged all young men who had stayed home to help with the harvest to come to Ricks for the winter months. However, he cautioned they should check with their draft board, especially if they had a farmwork deferment, to see if they would likely be drafted before they could finish winter quarter. Young women staying home to help on the farm or to help in the home were reminded that most of that work slowed down or ceased during the winter and they should just as well be at Ricks as be idle.
Winter quarter continued in January 1944 with focus on classes. There were not enough men to have a basketball team so the intramural program was the only way the few boys could compete. Weekly dances were held in the gymnasium building. There were so few boys attending school that they got a good workout at dances. Girls danced with girls. Male faculty members might dance with their wives a time or two but would mostly dance with students. Students who brought male relatives to dances were much appreciated.
The city fire alarm sounded on February 1. The fire truck, with siren wailing, turned up College Avenue from Main Street and drove to the front of the Spori Building. Some pipes had frozen and while using a blowtorch to thaw them, some nearby oil-soaked sweeping compound ignited. The fire was quickly extinguished. A sizeable crowd had gathered to watch, and then blocked the fire truck, preventing the truck from leaving. “The worst hazard was caused by the traffic congestion of fire followers,” complained an irritated FireChief McEntire. The traffic jam finally was untangled so the fire engine could return to the station.
The Ricks College Advisory Committee wrote a letter to Commissioner West dated February 10, 1944. They expressed a particular concern about a college building program that they believed would be needed for implementation when the war was over. The committee believed that an advertising campaign should be instituted to counter the years of bad publicity generated by trying to give the school to the state. Planning was needed to maintain student and faculty morale. “The school should not be a big institution” in the committee’s opinion, but “should be a high-class, small institution that would favorably attract the attention of educators and students alike.” Furthermore, “all present” expressed belief that
"communities served by this institution stand ready and anxious to give [Ricks] their moral and financial support provided a thorough program on behalf of the institution is developed for the future and they are assured [that program] will be carried out. Even though the school has filled a great purpose in this valley, [Ricks] can be of even greater service if given an opportunity."
President Manwaring and the committee developed policies and projects to accompany the letter. Commissioner West agreed to give the recommendations full consideration.
Navy recruiters came to campus on March 22. They focused their attention, naturally enough, on the women. They explained the part WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) could play in the war and encouraged young women to enlist in the U.S. Navy.
There were few students on campus during spring quarter. Most sophomore education majors were practice teaching in Adams and Washington elementary schools. Those in the agriculture program often visited farms or implement dealerships. Several volunteered at Red Cross headquarters to help fill the surgical bandage quota. Ricks faculty women were assigned to do this job the first and third Monday evenings of each month.
Commencement of 1944 was the last for Hyrum Manwaring as college president. Being sixty-seven years old, he had been granted retirement. He had suggested to Commissioner West when he was sixty-four that he be allowed to retire when he was sixty-five. West had agreed. However, President Manwaring continued as president for three more years, rather than one. He had been a fixture at Ricks for thirty years, fourteen of those as president. During his tenure as president, the college was almost closed, almost given away, almost bankrupt, and affected by international war, but he had continued to lead with an unshakable optimism that the college would survive. He continued as a college faculty member for some time.
Appointment of John L. Clarke as president of Ricks College seemed to surprise everybody, including Clarke. He had no administrative credentials other than stints as a seminary principal and director of the Church institutes in Thatcher, Arizona, and St. George, Utah. When he received the invitation to serve at Ricks, he was in graduate school in Los Angeles. His tenure would commence in August. Some said the choice of Clarke was fortuitous; others said the choice was inspired. Either way, the right man for the job had been hired.
When President Clarke got to campus in mid-August, some important meetings had been held and important information disseminated. Announcements appeared in Salt Lake City newspapers and on KSL radio that the First Presidency and the Church Board of Education approved building new and renovating existing buildings on campus. A letter was sent to all stake presidents and bishops in Idaho explaining the Church’s position that Ricks College would be a permanent part of the Church educational system, would be built into a first-class junior college, and “the people of Idaho [are asked to] give [Ricks] their full support.”
Commissioner West followed those announcements with meetings with the College Advisory Committee. That committee discussed plans to advertise the school and help finance building and remodeling projects. They looked forward to Ricks College becoming one of the “finest junior colleges in the Northwest.” Committee Chairman Delbert Taylor and Hyrum Manwaring traveled throughout the Upper Snake River Valley presenting information to stake presidents, high councils, and bishops, and soliciting support. “They all expressed themselves as being willing to give this new educational course their full support,” reported Taylor and Manwaring. The new president seemed to be in a most promising situation.
Registration for fall quarter started on September 26. By week’s end President Clarke announced that 115 had enrolled. More were expected after harvest vacation. Returning students recognized all but the three new faculty: President Clarke, MaryStowell Jensen, and LenoreCraven Passey. M.D. Beal returned from a two-year leave of absence.
President Clarke announced that Ricks College had been admitted to membership in the American Association of Junior Colleges. It was already a member of the Northwest association, and this gave Ricks a national association that, President Clarke explained, “will definitely buttress the college’s academic standing.” He also received word that the American Council of Nursing, headquartered in New York, placed Ricks on its approved list for teaching pre-nursing courses. He noted this recognition “will soon result in the establishment of an extension program through which the college will cooperate in the training of nurses in the Idaho Falls L.D.S. Hospital.”
President Clarke met for the first time with the College Advisory Committee on November 20. After introductions, he explained the proposed building program. The committee already had been at work advertising the program and soliciting “funds to assist in this project.” After all, explained Chairman Taylor, the Latter-day Saint “people, like their pioneer fathers, believe in contributing to worthy causes.” Major funding was expected to come through the Church Board of Education.
Fund-raising efforts by the College Advisory Committee were going strong by early 1945 and pledges were still coming in. More than $100,000 was anticipated from members of Idaho stakes and Ricks alumni. College student Gale Millward used the experience she had gained as the college war stamp and bond chairman to help the college fund. She converted ice cream cartons into red, white, and blue Uncle Sam hats. A hat was placed on each classroom desk. If a student was tardy, a contribution was to be deposited in the hat. Or, if a student chose to make a contribution to buy a bond, that was encouraged. Many did, especially when they learned that the bonds would be made in favor of Ricks College. Student tardiness decreased while contributions for stamp and bond purchases increased.
Welcome news was received on May 8, 1945. Germany had surrendered and the war in Europe was over. The victory celebration quickly arranged for that evening in the tabernacle was tempered by the fact that the war with Japan was still being fought. The end for Japan came quickly when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on August 14. The victory celebration in Rexburg lasted late into the night.
Before spring quarter concluded, President Clarke approved the usual high school recruitment efforts. Faculty were sent to speak to high school seniors and they also spoke at several graduation exercises. Women’s glee and drama clubs made tours to area high schools. Girls Day was held on campus under the Amagus Club’s direction. Altogether, most high schools were visited from the Utah border on the south, to the Wyoming border on the east, to Ashton on the north.
A memorial service was held for LDS Church President Heber J. Grant on May 18, 1945, in the college auditorium. President Grant had died on May 14. He was the only President of the Church most of the students and faculty had known, having been sustained as President in November 1918. He was beloved and missed.
President David O. McKay, recently sustained as Second Counselor to President GeorgeAlbert Smith, delivered the baccalaureate address on May 27 for the class of 1945. This class was the first—and last—all-girl graduating class in the history of the college. Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, a professor of religious instruction at Brigham Young University, was the commencement speaker. The valedictory address was delivered by Donna Heileson and the salutatory address by Carol Stoker. Beth Moulton, Doris Kunz, Irene Muir, Ruth Thomas, Phoebe Welch, and LaPree Christensen were honor students. Former President Hyrum Manwaring gave the president’s report of the class. Rexburg Stake President Peter J. Ricks presented diplomas. The Faculty Women sponsored a reception for graduates in the girls’ dormitory (the dormitory had been coeducational before the war). Plenty of men attended the alumni ball, providing graduates with dancing partners.
During the summer of 1945, remodeling was started on college buildings. Much of the interior of the administration building was redone and refurnished. The heating plant was replaced. Many interior changes were made in the gymnasium. Despite hard work, the buildings were not finished in time for fall quarter. President Clarke announced the opening date for the 1945-1946 school year would be moved from September 24 to October 15.
Remodeling was not completed by October 15, but school started anyway. Some classes were held in the Fourth Ward church across the street from campus. Remodeling had been slowed because the war effort had first priority on building materials. Finding skilled laborers also was difficult. By October, building supplies flowed more rapidly into Rexburg. Some veterans returning home had building skills. As rooms became available in college buildings, classes were moved into them.
More than 200 registered for classes the first week, with more expected after harvest. Although most of the freshman class of about 150 students were women, Ray Smith of Idaho Falls was elected president, bringing “war time matriarchal domination” to an end. The sophomore class elected Dawn Klingler of Rexburg president, Beverly Walz was chosen student-body president, and Orson Tew of Shelley was elected student-body vice president.
Six men organized the Associated Men of Ricks College on November 5 with Lowell Biddulph as advisor. Richard Dunkley of Preston was elected president and Reid Nelson, a veteran of campaigns in Africa and Italy, was elected vice president. Many veterans joined and the organization grew quickly. Those veterans returned home with a sophistication about international geography and politics, and also the meaning of life and death—and miracles, that would become the focus of a lifetime.
The combined Founders Day and Armistice Day assembly on November 12, 1945, had added meaning. Bishop Delbert Taylor, the keynote speaker, spoke of sacrifices made to build Ricks and sacrifices made to maintain democracy. Further sacrifice would be necessary to see the college and nation prosper.
Several College Advisory Committee members met with President Clarke on December 15. They toured remodeled buildings and discussed local curriculum needs. They discussed the fund-raising campaign, of which about $35,000 of the $50,000 goal had been raised. The committee planned to do the necessary work to raise the other $15,000. President Clarke suggested funds be raised to establish scholarships and fellowships so more students could attend college with financial assistance. That notion was to be further explored by the committee.
With Ruth Barrus at the stake tabernacle organ and John Anderson conducting, a 150-member choir thrilled the congregation with Handel’s majestic Messiah on December 16. With the war over and a degree of normalcy returning to community and campus affairs, Messiah identified, with renewed clarity, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
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