Through the years students have sensed a unique and special feeling as they arrive on the Ricks campus. At first they aren’t able to capture in words just what the feeling is, but they know, nonetheless, that something is here and something has touched them spiritually. Over time, they join with many others in describing this feeling as the “spirit of Ricks.” Visitors notice it and many parents, after leaving a son or daughter at Ricks, have driven home feeling that all will be well because they sensed something on the campus that puts them at ease.
What is the “spirit of Ricks” that sets the school apart from other colleges? Some feel it is the friendliness of a caring faculty and staff who always seem willing to give far more than just their time. Others relate it to the brightness of the students, their smiles and cheerfulness, and their concern for one another.
The “spirit of Ricks” is electric. It seems to lift one to higher thoughts and actions. It changes lives for the better for those who taste of it. Students who experience this spirit go home different than when they came. They seem to care more for others. They have a desire to help, to be of service, and to encourage others to be better too.
Because of this unique environment and the spirit here, thousands of couples have found each other at Ricks during its century-plus years of existence. Later in life, they have encouraged their own children to attend Ricks in hopes that they might experience the same spirit that made such an impact on them in their years in Rexburg.
Yet there is much more to the “spirit of Ricks.” Most importantly, the “spirit of Ricks” is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ manifested in the lives of those who attend Ricks College and of those who serve here. It is the sincerity of those who have a testimony of the gospel and who willingly share that testimony with others, be it in a math class or a religion class or to a roommate or friend in one’s apartment or in the student center. It is this spirit that is so evident in the lives of thousands of people who are applying the precepts of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This same spirit was manifested in the life of Thomas E. Ricks and those who worked with him in establishing the fledgling church academy. This spirit was here in the 1890s and 1900s when determined Church members and faculty kept the academy open, even when there was hardly enough money to pay the bills. It was here in the 1910s and 1920s when the academy evolved from being an elementary and secondary school to become an influential college for the people of Idaho. It persisted through the 1930s when the Church attempted to give the college to the state of Idaho. And it continued in the 1950s and early 1960s when attempts were made to move the school to Idaho Falls.
The “spirit of Ricks” is indeed the thread that has woven itself through the decades to make Ricks College what it truly is. The spirit is still strong today as the college prepares to enter the twenty-first century. Step on the campus, look into the eyes of the students, talk to the faculty and staff, look about when you walk between its beautiful buildings, listen during a class break to what the students are discussing, or peek into a classroom and sense what is going on. You, like so many others before you, will come away saying to yourself, “There really is something unique about this college. There is a spirit here.” Then you, too, will know a little about the “spirit of Ricks” that makes up such a vital part of its history and environment.
This history book, appropriately titled The Spirit of Ricks, was written to help one feel an appreciation of the first 110 years of the college’s history. The author, David Crowder, tells of its founding, its struggles, its growth, and its monumental part in the lives of students. While this history can’t and doesn’t tell everything, it does include much of what has transpired to bless the lives of some 120,000 young men and women who are now numbered among the ever-increasing alumni of a great institution. It tells the college’s story and provides the reader with a better understanding of the “spirit of Ricks” through thirteen different administrations beginning with that of Principal Jacob Spori in 1888 and ending with that of President Steven D. Bennion in 1997.
This book is a wonderful treasure of information that will immediately take those who walked Ricks’ halls back to the memories of a special time in their lives. It is a work that will go far to help our new president, David A. Bednar, achieve his goal to both preserve and enhance the “spirit of Ricks.”
R. Brent Kinghorn
Community Services Vice President
(Class of 1961)
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