Most recent Ricks College presidents have included references to the “spirit of Ricks” in devotional addresses to the student body. In inauguration ceremonies for the last few presidents the “spirit of Ricks” has been mentioned. In each audience would be those who had yet to feel that spirit and would seek definition, while others would claim understanding yet give varied definitions.
There are diverse elements in each definition reflecting institutional and individual challenges and changes. Yet in all definitions, there are common elements reflecting sacrifice, intrepidity, excellence, and spirituality.
Ricks College provides a direct link to Latter-day Saint pioneers who, more than 150 years ago, were forced out of hearth and home and made their way west under the leadership of President Brigham Young. Some of these pioneers (notably Thomas E. Ricks) were called to settle in the Upper Snake River Valley and were present at the founding of a small church academy that has grown into modern-day Ricks College. Several generations of pioneers, including the present generation, have sacrificed so that today’s Ricks College is secure as a first-rate academic institution in the Church Educational System. Gratitude that energy, time, and monetary resources were provided by these pioneers has been distilled in the “spirit of Ricks.”
The “spirit of Ricks” includes the reality that many times in Ricks’ history fortitude, forthrightness, and fearlessness have carried the day. That intrepidity has been demonstrated by those who love or loved the school too much to see it severed from its pioneer roots, by those engaged in academic debate in a myriad of contests of academic skill, and by alumni who are established in all areas of the world.
Common to definitions of the “spirit of Ricks” is pride in the knowledge that Ricks College has become a metaphor for excellence. Students and faculty have been recognized locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally for excellence in art, dance, drama, music, athletics, academic performance in many disciplines, and leadership. Many faculty members have received recognition for excellence in teaching and for contributing to the body of knowledge in their discipline by research and publications. Anytime recognition for excellence has come to an individual or group the campus community benefits, and the “spirit of Ricks” is enhanced.
Many colleges use the “spirit of . . .” to help define their institution. They speak in much the same terms as we do. However, Ricks has a unique defining component: the gospel of Jesus Christ. The assurance that Ricks College embodies the restored gospel provides the basis for all else that is included in individual and collective definitions of Ricks. Secular knowledge acquired at Ricks is inextricably entwined with instruction that builds testimonies and prepares students to be Christlike citizens of the world.
Each campus community from Principal Jacob Spori to President David Bednar has defined and refined the “spirit of Ricks” in its own terms, but always with the gospel of Jesus Christ as the underpinning. That process will continue as long as Ricks continues.
Chapter 20 |