New religion building to be built at Ricks

Anew religion building at Ricks College has been approved by the Board of Trustees, Ricks Pres. Steven D. Bennion announced Jan. 8 at a faculty meeting.

In addition, the board approved in concept two additional facilities.College officials will spend the next few months determining the final plans for the religion building before contacting an architect. James Smyth, administrative vice president, said groundbreaking will not take place until at least April 1994 or later.

The new religion building will help ease the pressure on the Joseph Fielding Smith Building, which houses seven departments including the religion department. The new facility will also be utilized by campus wards and stakes for Church services and activities, Pres. Bennion said.

The other physical facilities approved in concept by the Board of Trustees include a new administration building and an addition to the Eliza R. Snow Center for the Performing Arts. The current administration building, which is interconnected to the library, will be converted to library usage and will increase the latter facility by more than one third.

The Snow Building will receive much needed storage and rehearsal areas, and space for a modest-size art gallery. Instructional and rehearsal space in the Snow Building has been so crowded the college recently began using an LDS meetinghouse adjacent to the campus for many of its music classes, according to officials.

Pres. Bennion said these additional facilities "will be planned and constructed on a phased basis over the next six years through 1998; funding for each will be sought independently to make certain each project can go ahead on schedule."

The new religion and administration buildings are planned to be constructed south of the Manwaring Center, which is on the south side of campus. The addition to the Snow Building is planned for the south side of the current facility. The Snow Building is located on the north end of campus.

During the past 20 months, Ricks College has been engaged in long-range planning to address pressing space needs. In June 1991, the college prepared a detailed assessment of plans.

Pres. Bennion emphasized that the facilities were requested "to serve a student body the size of our current enrollment ceiling of 7,500 students. We do not anticipate any expansion of this ceiling."

Each of the three projects included in phase one of the college's master plan reflects existing needs "that have overly squeezed related programs and departments," he explained. "Recent developments at Ricks have heightened this squeeze on space, including the development of the general computing lab in the library, the need for more specialized instructional space for many programs, and the creation of 10 new college wards and one stake in the last two years."

Pres. Bennion said the current building request carried the endorsement of the Board of Trustees and the newly appointed Commissioner of Church Education, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Seventy.

The college's last free-standing construction project was the Snow Building, which was completed in 1980.

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