"Lambing Sheds" for a Four-Year College
Enrollment for winter quarter beginning January 2, 1946, was so high that an appeal was made to the community for housing. The dormitory and other advertised housing in private homes were full. Twenty to thirty more rooms were needed to house those who wanted to register at Ricks.
The first order of social business during winter quarter was initiation of seventy women and twenty-two men into Lambda Delta Sigma. Enough interest in the organization was expressed that another initiation was held spring quarter. That initiation was followed the next evening with a sleigh ride, to which the entire student body was invited. “There was plenty of snow and the temperature was down low enough to justify snuggling.” Trucks were used to pull the sleighs on back roads toward Teton. The evening concluded with chili and crackers in the dormitory.
The administration and gymnasium buildings were still not completely remodeled by spring quarter. Classes were held in several places off campus. The contractor, Howard J. McKean, and the architect, William F. Thomas, drove from their Utah offices to inspect the buildings in mid-January. They said they were still having a hard time getting needed materials. They visited with President Clarke about future building plans: dormitories, a shop building, and a multi-purpose building.
President Clarke and Eldon Hart went to Salt Lake City near the end of spring quarter to meet again with McKean and Thomas. They were informed the present remodeling would be completed by September—over a year after the original completion date. President Clarke and Hart ordered equipment for the buildings. Much of the equipment was government surplus and was expected to be available within a few weeks. The college had purchased a Eurocoupe airplane in Provo, Utah, so they went to check the expected delivery date. “Soon!” they were told. The airplane would be used in an aviation course to be part of the fall curriculum. The plane was also for school business, with Hart as pilot.
The Federal Public Housing Authority (FPHA) was charged with aiding colleges and communities with housing for veterans and families. President Clarke and a faculty committee composed of Oswald Christensen, Artell Chapman, and Eldon Hart, and Rexburg Mayor Joseph B. DeMott had submitted a proposal to FPHA to locate units on campus. Representatives from FPHA spent a day at Ricks meeting with President Clarke, going over the proposal, and looking at selected sites on the east side of campus. Units remodeled from military surplus buildings were available. Each apartment would accommodate a family of six, with Ricks College allocated enough units to house twenty-six families. Ricks and the city were responsible to have foundations built and utilities on site. The buildings, coming from Vancouver, Washington, would be in pieces that could be easily assembled. Site preparation began early in April, and the first building materials arrived in Rexburg near the end of April. A small temporary building was erected for the construction foreman. While the site was being prepared for twenty-six apartments, word was received through the office of Idaho’s United States Representative Henry Dworshak that an additional thirty-six dormitory units and fifteen more family units had been allocated to Ricks College and the city. A target date of July 17 was established to have the first group of apartments ready for occupancy. Each apartment had two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and bath. Rent would be nominal. FPHA housing was intended to be temporary, and if the housing shortage for returning veterans and families was eased, in two years the buildings were to be torn down.
By the end of the first week in May, the site for the buildings had been prepared under the watchful eye of Artell Chapman. Visiting FPHA officials agreed that site preparation was completed and authorized hiring a local work crew and foreman. Ninety days were estimated as necessary to complete the project, pushing the completion date from the middle of July to the middle of August. The Veterans Administration canvassed all colleges in the country to see how many veterans could be accommodated. President Clarke indicated that Ricks could accommodate 125 with the FPHA housing.
Commissioner West visited campus on March 15. President Clarke updated him on the building program and informed him that the College Advisory Committee had raised $50,000 to help finance the program. President Clarke was especially pleased to note several businesses and individuals had pledged money for scholarships to aid new students, as well as students going on to four-year institutions.
Forty-seven graduates listened to Elder Mark E. Peterson affirm that “the abundant life is a worshipful one” during his baccalaureate address on May 26. Richard H. Wells of Pocatello was commencement speaker the following evening. He admonished graduates to “exert sufficient energy and willpower to get a front seat in the arena of life.” Representing the graduates were Beverly Walz, the student-body president and valedictorian, and Dean Hill, a veteran B-17 pilot and salutatorian.
Anticipating a substantial increase in student registration for the fall quarter of the 1946-1947 school year, President Clarke had faculty members canvass Rexburg for housing. Initially, housing was found for twenty-five men and ten to fifteen women. Even with the recently constructed veterans housing, the dormitory, and housing some community members had provided for several years, more was needed. Growth of the school apparently would be circumscribed by the amount of student housing.
President Clarke had purchased surplus cafeteria equipment for a yet-to-be-built cafeteria on campus. Until that was available, those who stayed in single veterans housing or who had lodging where no board was provided ate in the college dormitory dining hall. The president also purchased surplus office equipment, shop equipment, and business machines to help furnish classrooms, laboratories, and shops. Both the administration and gymnasium buildings remodeling projects were expected to be completed soon.
Students registering on September 17, 1946, found an expanded vocational arts curriculum. Karl E. Hart had been hired to teach carpentry, welding, some architectural and engineering drawing, and a farm machinery repair course. Students also found an expanded research capability as the library had been designated a federal depository by Idaho’s United States Senator Glen Taylor. The newly hired assistant librarian, Theron Atkinson, had actually had university classes in library science.
Shortly after school started, a quasi-political group was organized in College Heights, the name given to the veterans housing project. Jay J. Campbell of Burley was elected mayor, and George E. Patterson of Bloomington and Walt J. Davis of Rexburg were elected councilmen. “City council” responsibilities included hearing complaints and acting on them, initiating projects and activities, and being concerned with the general welfare of the College Heights community. The community soon would be enlarged to house another sixteen families and thirty-six single veterans. The mayor and councilmen appointed Terrell Woodmansee of Rexburg to be the fire chief, and the fire department consisted of Preston Brimhall, Erwin E. Wirkus, DeLoy Lemmon, Denton Y. Brewerton, and Lash Laker. Ermel J. Morton was appointed social committee chairman. Both the city and college looked with favor upon this organization.
The Madison High School gymnasium was the site for the college intramural basketball tournament beginning on October 24, 1946. On eight intramural teams were many who hoped to make the college intercollegiate team. Coach Biddulph watched closely and then picked twenty-one men for the college team. He could not travel with that many, so he chose a junior varsity team. While the varsity played a twenty-nine game schedule, the junior varsity players gained experience playing more than twenty games against high school, Church, and city league teams. The varsity, with fine coaching and the floor leadership of team captain Orson Tew, ended the season with a twenty-two-win, seven-loss record. The team was invited to the Western States tournament in Compton, California, in early March 1947. Ricks College received a lot of publicity from the California tournament. The team won one game and lost two, coming home with the sportsmanship trophy.
President Clarke and M.D. Beal had accompanied the team to Compton. Beal recalled that while visiting with President Clarke on the way home, he suggested the “advisability of changing the name Ricks to Idaho Mormon Pioneer College, or some combination of those terms.” Apparently, President Clarke was not too interested. “If judged by Clarke’s interest,” noted Beal, rather laconically, “consideration of Idaho Mormon Pioneer College is an example of an idea whose time never came.” Since that time there have been other suggestions made to change the name of the college, but none have been seriously considered.
During the Christmas holidays, remodeling of the treasurer’s and registrar’s offices was completed. Work on the veterans dormitories was completed. There was still room for six veterans in the single veterans dorm. To provide more sleeping spaces, three had been assigned to each room, rather than two as originally planned. Of forty-two veterans residing in the dormitory, twenty-seven were attending Ricks. Of forty-two, two-bedroom apartments, thirty-seven were occupied. The others had been assigned. With inclusion of College Heights in campus boundaries, the campus looked a lot like a military base.
Registration for winter quarter continued when classes resumed on January 6, 1947. But a new late registration fee had been added. Veterans could enroll in a new course—flight training. Arrangements had been made with companies in Idaho Falls and St. Anthony to offer flight training. Eldon Hart already was teaching ground school, but the Rexburg airport had not been approved by government authorities for use for flight training airplanes.
Early in January 1947, John Anderson, the music department chairman, announced the college had purchased a two-manual pipe organ (six sets of pipes) for $750. The organ was installed by H.A. Howze, an expert from Salt Lake City. Anderson encouraged all stake and ward organists to enroll for organ lessons that he and Ruth Barrus would instruct. Before this acquisition, organ students and instructors had used the tabernacle to teach and practice. The organ was not completely installed in time for spring quarter classes, but it was ready and used for most of summer school.
Two laboratories, separated by a classroom, were constructed in the gymnasium building as part of the remodeling process. Artell Chapman moved his chemistry and physics classes into the building.
Students registering for spring quarter commencing on March 11 had several new classes from which to choose. The acquisition of government surplus office machines allowed for business machines classes. Others included office management and practice, childhood and adolescent psychology, mental health, business English, and first aid. For the first time in several years, a popular archery class was offered with Beulah Blaser as instructor.
Of special interest was President Clarke’s report at commencement in 1947. The school had experienced the largest enrollment in college classes in its history. Remodeling projects and new student housing had made possible an expanded curriculum to accommodate more students. New approved buildings included a cafeteria, shop, dormitories, and a multi-purpose building. These buildings were to be constructed as soon as acquisition of building supplies and laborers allowed. More land had been purchased on the south end of the campus, bringing the land owned by the college to about 110 acres. “A fruitful future for the school is assured,” Clarke concluded, “if [Ricks’] friends and patrons continue their support. In the future the college intends to keep faith with the ideals and standards of the founders and builders of the past.”
Four-week and six-week summer school sessions were offered in 1947. Students could choose from forty-one courses. As usual, the emphasis was on courses needed to complete education certification requirements. For the first time, courses were offered in journalism and religion taught by Ermel Morton.
Registrar Eldred Stephenson, who had returned after his stint in the Navy, announced new registration procedures would be enforced starting with the 1947-1948 school year. No longer could a student just show up and register. A registration permit was now required. That permit would not be issued until an official application had been received along with high school transcripts, and college transcripts if another college had been attended. Men and women over the age of twenty-one who had not graduated from high school needed a recommendation from their high school principal sent with their application, and President Clarke then needed to approve the application. In implementing this registration procedure, Ricks followed the lead of other institutions of higher education in the state.
Late in August 1947, President Clarke received word that the college had been allocated a $250,000 government surplus heating plant. The plant was at Gowen Field Air Force Base near Boise. Happy to accept the plant, President Clarke would need college funds to dismantle, move, and install the heating plant. The plant would fit in the existing heating plant building, meet present college building needs—as well as buildings in the planning stage, and still have reserve capacity. The plant had to be moved from Gowen Field by October 8.
During the summer, the decision was made that Ricks would field a football team in the fall for the first time since the war started. Thirty-one prospects showed up for the first day of practice on September 9, 1947. Coach Biddulph was gratified with the large number. He also was pleased that the administration had hired Dr. L. Eugene Peterson, a St. Anthony optometrist, as an assistant football coach. Peterson had some high school coaching experience. Players who made the team would wear new silver and blue uniforms. Ricks would be at some disadvantage as most opponents had started football a year or two earlier. This was especially obvious in the first game on September 26 against Boise Junior College. Boise’s experienced players thoroughly drubbed the Vikings 31-0. The Vikings ended their first postwar season with two wins, one tie, and four losses. But they maintained hope for the coming year. They would then have some experienced players and things would be different.
Three hundred twenty students registered for fall quarter during the first week, compared to 1946 fall quarter registration of 387. But final numbers were not known until those who stayed out until after harvest vacation had registered. Eldred Stephenson noted that six states and one foreign country were represented among registrants. The one foreign student was the English wife of veteran Jay L. Nichols. They lived in College Heights.
Albert Pieper, a local postal worker, Ricks alumnus, and former missionary in Germany, was appointed by President Clarke to teach an expanded German curriculum. He replaced J. Wendell Stucki, who could now give full time to his position in the agriculture department. Many of Pieper’s German students over the next many years were called on missions to Germany and were well prepared in the language.
The annual production of Messiah was performed in the tabernacle on December 14. No sacrament meetings were held in the North Rexburg and Rexburg stakes so all could attend the performance. John Anderson conducted a mixed Ricks-community orchestra and 200-voice choir. For the first time, the local performance was shared with more than just those assembled in the tabernacle. Radio station KID in Idaho Falls broadcast the performance to listeners, providing a fine Christmas gift to the whole Upper Snake River Valley.
Shortly before winter quarter ended, Valkries, a new service club exclusively for women, accepted ten members. Valkries was an alternative for young women who did not wish to join Lambda Delta Sigma, but still wanted to contribute to the “spirit of Ricks.”
The Rexburg Journal bold-faced headline on April 22, 1948, announced, “Church to Make Four Year Institution of Ricks College.” President Clarke had made the announcement on April 20. He had been in meetings with Church authorities from time to time for the past year discussing an Idaho legislative mandate. The 1947 Legislature had passed a bill that required all teachers to complete four years of training for state certification after September 1, 1955. A significant percentage of each Ricks graduating class entered the teaching profession. Excellent training received by prospective teachers at Ricks made them very much in demand throughout Idaho and surrounding states. Under existing circumstances, the new law meant that education majors had to transfer to another institution to complete their degree to obtain certification.
Officials worried that rather than transferring to another school, prospective students might simply pass up Ricks and register in four-year college or university programs. President Clarke had discussed with the Church Board of Education that one way to forestall losing students to four-year programs was to transform Ricks into a four-year institution that granted bachelor’s degrees. The Church Board of Education made the decision on April 19, 1947, to add a third college year at Ricks for the 1948-1949 school year and a fourth year the next year. President Clarke was elated with the announcement, as was everyone else. To alumni, faculty, and members of the Upper Snake River Valley community, the announcement seemed to certify what had often been expressed—the college remained in the Church education system at Rexburg by divine design. The “spirit of Ricks” took on added significance.
Making Ricks a four-year college did not mean discontinuing the granting of associate degrees and certificates of completion for some vocational programs. Pre-professional courses would continue to be offered without expanding curriculum to complete particular professional requirements.
Many questions had to be considered before the third year was added. With plans already under way for additions to the physical plant, there was little concern about facilities. However, did plans need to be changed to adapt to an expanded curriculum, and hopefully, expanded student body? Would more faculty be needed? What credentials did any new faculty need? What professional education classes needed to be added to the curriculum? Did the current academic structure meet the needs of a four-year college? How many credits would be needed to graduate? Of those credits, how many needed to be upper division and how many in major and minor fields?
To facilitate decision-making, President Clarke made use of college and university models in both the Idaho educational structure and the Church educational program at Brigham Young University. Students fulfilling graduation requirements could qualify for bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees. Five divisions were created: Farm and Home Sciences, Natural Sciences, Education, Humanities, Social Science and Business, and Religion. In due time President Clarke would appoint division chairmen, and faculty committees were reorganized to better meet student needs.
There seemed to be new vigor on campus, stimulated by the announcement of four-year status for Ricks. Athletes seemed more intense in track and on the newly revived baseball team. They were anxious to return in the fall to participate in the third year at Ricks. Coach Biddulph could look forward to experienced football and basketball players and participation in the recently announced new athletic conference, the Intermountain Collegiate Athletic Conference (ICAC). He could look forward to having a new assistant coach with outstanding athletic credentials: Ralph B. Maughan. Musical groups, debate teams, drama and art students, and faculty looked to participation in a new level of expertise. Student-body elections were more intense. Louis Melendez of Rexburg, a World War II veteran, was elected president. Even students dismantling the mechanics arts building so the new heating plant could be installed seemed to have renewed enthusiasm.
Getting into the spirit of things, Marriner Morrell, the summer school director, announced that for the first time upper division credit would be offered for several classes for teachers. This would get them well on their way to a four-year degree and certification.
Many graduating with the class of 1948 anticipated returning in the fall. Some who might have considered other professions expected to return to become teachers. The graduates included the first married couple to graduate, Mr. and Mrs. K. Frome, and several married students, including Norman Ricks who would become a Ricks faculty member in a few years. Hyrum Manwaring delivered the baccalaureate address on June 6. Elder Spencer W. Kimball had agreed to deliver the address, but illness forced him to cancel. The commencement speaker was Howard S. McDonald, president of Brigham Young University. The class of 1908 received special attention during alumni activities, and all but one class member attended the reunion. They were happy with the new status of Ricks, but they recalled, with only a hint of amusement, that they had a four-year degree. Of course, the four years they attended Ricks ended with a high school diploma. Arthur Porter, Jr., attended the reunion as one of the teachers of the class forty years ago.
A new selective service law affected enrollment at Ricks. As explained by President Clarke early in July 1948, the law specified that young men of draft age could “have their draft call postponed until they finish the academic year for which they are enrolled.” That meant that a young man could enroll at Ricks in the fall and he would not need to worry about being drafted at least until after the academic year ended.
President Clarke received word early in July that President Harry S. Truman had signed a bill authorizing educational units to acquire title to veterans housing units. That meant that the college could apply for title to the forty-two veterans housing units located in College Heights (by this time fondly referred to as “lambing sheds” in recognition of the children of new mothers and fathers who lived there), as well as the thirty-six-unit veterans dormitory. Although the housing units had been acquired in 1946 and 1947, they were considered on loan from the government. Now they would belong to the college—although President Clarke still considered them temporary buildings.
The college catalog for the 1948-1949 school year, the biggest in history with 141 pages, listed some 100 new courses to accommodate third-year and fourth-year students. Students intending to receive bachelor’s degrees at Ricks could see a listing of major and minor options. The catalog also listed eight new faculty members, including Gordon Dixon and Ezra Stucki, who had long careers at Ricks.
A new academic administrative design was put into place before fall classes started. Classes would be grouped under six divisions: Education, Farm and Home Science, Humanities, Mathematics and Natural Science, Religion, and Social Science and Business. Each division was headed by a chairman. In addition to his responsibilities as president of the college, President Clarke was also chairman of the Division of Religion. Shortly after school started in the fall, a seventh division was created: the Division of Community Services. The student constitution also needed revision to reflect four-year status, and Norman Ricks, a student, headed the revision committee.
Fall quarter opened with high hopes for increased enrollment. Freshmen had to be impressed by the older students on campus. Of course, many young men who were now working on bachelor’s degrees were veterans and several had young families. President Clarke wrote letters to all mission presidents informing them of Ricks’ new status and encouraged them to inform their soon-to-be-released missionaries. But fall quarter was still somewhat disappointing.
Ricks began affiliation with the ICAC in the fall of 1948, although not enough conference games had been scheduled for full-fledged membership. That would come soon enough. The football and basketball teams, coached by Lowell Biddulph, and the boxing team, coached by Gordon Dixon, had winning records. They were enthusiastic about the next year when they would have returning players with three years of experience.
The agriculture program was also a winner in the fall of 1948. Lilac Remus Unrivaled Duke joined the department, according to Chairman J. Wendell Stucki. The addition was a registered yearling Jersey bull added to the dairy herd.
Alexander Schreiner, the Tabernacle Choir organist, played an organ recital to kick off the Ricks College-Community Fine Art Series on October 4. About 500 people listened in the tabernacle. Ermel J. Morton wrote a nice review of the recital, extolling Schreiner’s artistry. “Mr. Schreiner was not bothered by the failure of the organ to respond to his touch on the tremolo key and few in the audience noticed that the music lacked the tremolo effect so valuable in certain passages of music. Someone had forgotten to connect the plug which controlled the tremolo key,” Morton noted, “and the mistake was not corrected until intermission.”
Winter quarter began on December 7 with more than 400 students in attendance. They were gratified to learn that the Church education committee had approved an appropriation of $58,000 to construct a new shop building. President Clarke said, “This appropriation will give Ricks College [the] first entirely new building of the recent expansion program. All other work along this line has been either additions or remodeling.” The building was to be completed by March 1949.
Starting with the February 22, 1949, edition of the Viking Scroll, and continuing for the next three weeks, was an article about Hyrum Manwaring. The first installment headline was “President Emeritus Manwaring Preserver of Ricks College.” His contribution during the great stress of the 1930s was credited to his “sheer faith and pluck.” By 1949, “on the eve of a life well spent, President Manwaring can be justly proud that he was courageous and persevering in seeing his task through to the end at a time when it seemed that the school could not continue.” The college now had “a glorious future as the second four-year college of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a future he . . . helped to secure.”
Many times during Manwaring’s tenure as college president, he hoped for four-year status. He was president when the last tie with a high school was severed and Ricks “became a full-fledged junior college,” then “fully accredited in 1936.” He hoped all this would give impetus to his goal of seeing Ricks a four-year, degree-granting institution. That “goal toward which he had labored so long was in sight” when, on April 19, 1948, the Church Board of Education announced that Ricks would phase in a full four-year, degree-granting curriculum. Manwaring’s “glorious future” for Ricks had arrived.
“The Four Year College of the Upper Snake River Valley” was prominent on the cover of the “Ricks College Bulletin, April, 1949.” At the conclusion of the 1949-1950 school year, the first bachelor’s degrees were to be granted. President Clarke wrote to the prospective graduates: “Here at Ricks we feel we have a friendly institution where each student gets a maximum chance to participate in the fields of activity most interesting to him. We rather pride ourselves on the intimate, friendly relationship that exists between the students and the faculty.” Ricks “is a growing, vital institution interested in your welfare.” Here “you can profit greatly from a well-rounded college experience.” The bulletin noted academic and sports programs taught by a “faculty of Latter-day Saint instructors who foster a friendly, wholesome atmosphere for a study of secular subjects as well as religion.” To foster the wholesome atmosphere, Sunday School could be attended on campus as well as participation in activities of Delta Phi, a returned missionary fraternity. Those attending Ricks could receive bachelor’s degrees in sixteen disciplines. President Clarke announced that the college catalog for the coming school year, issued in June, would list all classes so registration could be facilitated.
Baccalaureate for forty-nine graduates was held in the tabernacle on May 29, 1949. Eugene E. Campbell, director of the Pocatello Institute of Religion, was the featured speaker. Monday was graduation with Dr. O. Meredith Wilson, dean of University College at the University of Utah, addressing the graduates. Lila Stucki of Rexburg and Jay Campbell of Burley were student speakers. President Clarke awarded diplomas. The class of 1909 was honored at the alumni banquet. The day ended with the graduation ball in the tabernacle.
An especially gratifying record number of freshmen enrolled for fall quarter of 1949. About 50 percent of all students were freshmen. More than 440 registered, including those registering for the special six-week course provided for those unable to enroll until after the fall harvest. The number represented about a 30 percent increase.
This was the first senior class at Ricks College. One change noticed by the seniors was a change in Biddulphs. Lowell Biddulph was granted a leave of absence for the year; his wife, Ruth, was hired to teach in the English department. Ruth Biddulph quickly became well known. She was double cast as Joan of Arc and Mary Grey in the community production of Joan of Lorraine, and was, according to one critic, “most convincing.”
Results of Coach Ralph Maughan’s 1949-1950 sports seasons were mixed. The football team won six games and lost one to Boise Junior College. The basketball team won six games but lost sixteen. Even Glenn Dalling’s league-leading scoring did not help much. The track team did quite well, winning, as usual, the ICAC northern division crown. Coach Gordon Dixon’s boxing team won six of seven matches, losing only to Southern Idaho College of Education at Albion.
About 400 high school students showed up for the third annual Journalism Conference on November 2, 1949. Two $50 scholarships to attend Ricks were awarded for news and feature story writing. The awards went to Don Rydalch of Sugar-Salem High School and August Miller of Blackfoot. The keynote speaker was former Idaho governor and noted newspaperman C.A. Bottolfsen. Others speaking were Robb Brady of the Idaho Falls Post Register and John C. Porter, editor of The Rexburg Standard and Journal newspapers.
Students registering for winter quarter 1949 chose from 191 classes, including several being offered for the first time. The new industrial arts building was completed enough for woodworking and welding classes. President Clarke taught a five-hour class in Latter-day Saint missionary doctrine. When final enrollment figures were in, the college had a new record cumulative attendance of 760 students.
Record low temperatures were making life somewhat miserable early in January 1950, but the new shop building was warm inside. A bricklaying class was offered in the evening “especially for veterans and others who are working days and desire to learn the bricklaying profession during the evening.” Veterans could use their G.I. Bill to pay class costs.
Early in February, President Clarke took a short-term leave of absence to continue doctoral studies at the University of California. President Emeritus Hyrum Manwaring administered the college, assisted by the college advisory committee, until his return.
The first bachelor’s degrees were awarded at commencement in 1950. Church services in both Rexburg stakes were suspended so all could attend baccalaureate services on May 28 in the tabernacle. T. Edgar Lyon, a former Ricks professor, delivered the sermon. Baccalaureate began a week of commencement activities, culminating in commencement on June 1. Dr. Franklin L. West, the Church commissioner of education, delivered the charge to the graduates. “Education has a great responsibility to preserve our free and democratic form of government and help in the conflict against communism,” West told the graduates. “You have a fine inheritance and excellent training, and you need emotional drive and physical vigor to assume your place in the world’s leadership.”
Class valedictorian Malcolm N. Perry of Melba and salutatorian Rachel Parrish Bennion of Rexburg gave addresses representing the class. Thirty-two seniors received either bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees. Hyrum Manwaring conducted both baccalaureate and commencement. President Clarke had indicated that he might try to return from his studies in California long enough to attend commencement and make the president’s report, but he was unable to arrange his schedule to attend. Honor students in that first four-year class were Dee L. Armstrong, Rachel Parrish Bennion, Jay J. Campbell, Jessie Porter Morrell, Malcolm N. Perry, Olney R. Perry, and Norman E. Ricks. As a fitting memento, graduating seniors, as well as all students and patrons, could take a copy of The Runes, the first college literary magazine. The Runes, published under the direction of Edna Ricks, included student poetry and prose. Contributors included in the first edition were seniors Jennie Brown and Merle Fisher.
During the summer of 1950, an appointment was made in the Church educational system that would have far-reaching effects on Ricks College. Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, a well-known attorney in practice in Washington, D.C., was appointed president of Brigham Young University. In about three years he was named director of the Church’s new Unified Church School System and assumed responsibility for administration of Ricks College, as well as all other Church educational institutions.
When students returned to classes in the fall quarter of 1950, they met a few new teachers, including Marion Forsyth and Jay Slaughter.
Some young men who had planned to attend school fall quarter were called up in the first draft incident to the Korean conflict. All young men ages eighteen to twenty-six were required to register for the draft, including those who had served in World War II but were still within the age limit. However, they would receive a deferred classification for war service. President Clarke announced that those not called in the first draft of 20,000 nationwide could receive a deferment if enrolled in a college or university. They would be deferred during the school year, then would lose their deferment as soon as the school year ended. Serving a mission also qualified a young man for deferment. How many young men attended Ricks or left on missions to qualify for deferments is not possible to know.
President Clarke announced early in the fall quarter that the Mutual Improvement Association would be revived on campus after several years’ absence. Dale Goodson of Ammon was called as MIA superintendent and Lowell Biddulph was the faculty advisor. The Sunday School also was organized, with Eldon Hart serving as the faculty advisor. In addition to regular MIA and Sunday School classes, Ezra Stucki taught a two-credit methods in religious education class designed to train teachers for the Church organizations.
During the fall quarter, many Ricks students got a lesson in practical politics. A Ricks faculty member, Claude Burtenshaw, received the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat. He had campaigned vigorously through the summer and was on a partial leave of absence until after the election in November. A large number of Ricks students organized a Burtenshaw for Senator campaign group. They held a rally at Madison High School on November 6, urging everyone eligible to vote for their candidate. Although Burtenshaw was defeated by Henry Dworshak, students found that being involved with the political process was worthwhile. Burtenshaw returned to full-time teaching, but remained on the political scene for several years.
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