Remembering BYU-Idaho’s legacy


On Feb. 14, the Science and Technology Center was dedicated by Neil L. Andersen, adding this building to the long line of tradition and excellence at BYU-Idaho.

With all the change in the past years, the legacy and spirit of Ricks College continues to grow after its transition to become BYU-I in 2001.

With seven new buildings and an influx of students, there are many new additions to the campus in the past decade. According to the academic office, in 2001 there were around 4,000 students attending BYU-I in total, as compared to now where student population totals upwards of 21,000 on-campus students. BYU-I has changed in many ways since the old Ricks days, but the spirit of Ricks lives on.

“You will find many definitions for the spirit of Ricks, but today I would like to reiterate the definitions I came to understand during my service here in Rexburg,” said David A. Bednar, the 14th president of BYU-I and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The spirit of Ricks is the Holy Ghost and its attendant spiritual gifts.”

Richard Davis, an instructor in the Department of Humanities and Philosophy, has been on campus since 1971. Davis said he remembers when the spirit of Ricks filled the campus.

“The spirit of Ricks has changed,” Davis said.

Davis said the spirit of Ricks was the environment of the school. There were about 300 students, and all the faculty and students were familiar with each other. The spirit of Ricks, to him, was the closeness of the people.

A memorablilia of Ricks college.

Davis said those were different days: students would greet each other while walking to classes as opposed to people walking with their headphones and shutting out the world.

He said the teachers had closer bonds with the students, and the students understood they needed to work and not take the easy way out.

Davis said the campus is still different from other universities because of teacher relations and the presence of the spirit on campus, but his spirit of Ricks has long since changed.

“Don’t get me wrong the school needed to change,” Davis said.

Davis said the biggest change he has noticed since the change to a four-year university is student dedication. From Ricks, a college filled with freshmen and sophomores straight out of high school, to BYU-I, a college filled with students focusing on their degrees, the dynamics of student demographics have changed.

Vaun Waddell, a professor in the English Department, began teaching in 1983, and experienced the change with his own eyes during the transition.

Waddell said he can remember back to the day when he was hired. He said he received council from Ed Pinegar, an LDS author, who warned him of BYU-I becoming a “high school on the hill.”

Waddell said he remembered the day the announcement was made of a transition to a four-year university. He wondered if Ricks could step up to the plate to be recognized as a four-year university or if it would just simply add two years to the Ricks regimen.

Waddell’s fondest memories of Ricks are from when he was the Director of the Reading Center. He always had 20-35 student employees under his watch. He enjoyed working hand in hand with students and always was thankful for  the opportunity.

“We needn’t kid ourselves: the Spirit of Ricks is long gone,” Waddell said.

Waddell said there has been a change to campus, but the change was necessary. He said with changes every few years in administration very few can remember how it was like. Waddell said, it is what turned the “high school on the hill” to a university that is home to many        more students.



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