President Hinckley installs new Ricks College president

With the destiny of the institution placed in his hands, Dr. David A. Bednar was formally installed Feb. 27 as the 14th president of Ricks College.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the inaugural charge and offered the inaugural address on a frigid Idaho morning. He called Ricks College "a remarkable school which came out of pioneer beginnings."The two-year, Church-owned college "is now more than a century old," President Hinckley said, just before giving the inaugural charge in a packed Hart Auditorium. "It was begun in days of stark poverty. Twice during the first half century of its existence it all but died, and would have done so but for the tremendous faith and efforts of a few men and women who struggled to hold it together.

"Now it is on solid ground. It stands here in this beautiful area where the air is clean and where rivers of life-giving water flow from the great mountains to the east. I challenge you to build with strength and integrity, with good design and solid planning, on the foundation laid long ago."

Also attending the inauguration and offering brief remarks were Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees; and Elder Henry B. Eyring, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, who is Church Commissioner of Education. Marjorie Hinckley, Barbara Perry and Kathleen Eyring attended the inaugural event with their husbands.

Pres. Bednar assumed his duties as president of Ricks College July 1, 1997, succeeding Steven D. Bennion. Before that, Pres. Bednar was a business management professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He is also a former Area Authority Seventy. (Please see Aug. 16, 1997, Church News for profile on Pres. Bednar.)

In his remarks before issuing the official inaugural charge, President Hinckley reminded administration, faculty and students, " . . . You have a very generous benefactor. The monies here spent have come from the tithing funds of the Church. They are sacred. They represent the widow's mite as well as the rich man's tithe."

In giving the official charge, the Church president declared: "I charge you to build the faculty. You will not find a more dedicated group of men and woman. They have a wonderful sense of understanding of the worth of young men and women they teach. They are not an ordinary faculty. They are most extraordinary in their absolute dedication as they teach secular subjects with an interlacing of faith and testimony and love of the Lord.

"You stand as the chief executive officer of this teaching family. The more you are with them, the more you will love them. They will look to you as their leader. I charge you to be mindful of them as your associates, to get to know something of their lives, of their problems, of their hopes, of their tremendous personal worth."

President Hinckley spoke of the spiritual dimension of Ricks College. "Those who come as students must receive a strong anchor of religious faith, rooted in a knowledge of the holy scriptures and in the teachings of prophets of God. They must have strengthened within them elements of moral restraint, of basic honesty, and of ethical concerns befitting a community of scholars each of whom is a child of the living God.

"It will be your responsibility and that of your associates to train your students to think with intellectual integrity, to act with moral responsibility, to stand as examples of men and women possessed of a great sense of service to their fellowmen and a love of God and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."

President Hinckley admonished Pres. Bednar to see that "there is taught on this campus a recognition of God as our Eternal Father. . . . The great overriding objective of this college must be to lead the minds of youth in the discovery of those great unchanging principles which come from a loving Father given to His children for their blessing and happiness now and forever. There must be knowledge and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of mankind."

Pres. Bednar was also counseled to make Ricks College "productive in the finest sense of that word. Build here in this Idaho valley a school worthy of the admiration of all who know of it. It has made a significant contribution to this state of Idaho. Its lengthened shadow reaches across the nation in the contributions made by its graduates."

In his address after receiving the inaugural charge, Pres. Bednar said: "The rapid growth of the Church throughout the world will require us to be ever better stewards of the sacred resources and support we receive. And the changes presently taking place in institutions of higher education around the world are nothing short of revolutionary. New technologies, innovative pedagogies and more sophisticated students are challenging us to rethink and re-evaluate many of our most fundamental assumptions about the processes of learning and teaching."

He highlighted several "fundamental principles that should be at the heart of all we are and do at Ricks College:

"True teaching is done by and with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. All truth, spiritual as well as secular, is manifested through the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a revelator, a teacher, a comforter and a sanctifier. To create an environment where the Holy Ghost can teach, everything done at Ricks College must be in harmony with the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Every person at Ricks College is a teacher. Everyone at Ricks College - faculty, staff, students, ecclesiastical leaders, and so forth - has a responsibility to impact others for good. Each interaction with a student or colleague is a potential teaching and learning opportunity.

"The most effective teaching and learning experiences occur one by one.' Ricks College is uniquely positioned as an institution of higher education to show and lead the way in applying the principle ofone by one.' This college is legendary for the individualized and nurturing attention given to students by the faculty and staff. . . .

"More students must be blessed. It will be necessary for us at Ricks College to serve ever better the thousands of students we have on campus while simultaneously reaching out to bless the lives of tens of thousands of young Latter-day Saints throughout the world.

"Righteous sociality (D&C 130:2) is essential to individual development. The unique environment of Ricks College exists, in part, because of the righteous endeavors of both students and employees. Participation in all types of wholesome activities - spiritual, academic, social and cultural - promotes the positive interactions that bring about a righteous sociality capable of enduring throughout eternity.

"Service provides opportunities for growth. Only those individuals who lose themselves in meaningful service to others can ever discover who they really are.

"A Ricks College experience must be affordable for students and families.

"I believe, brothers and sisters, that abiding by these principles will enable us to both preserve and enhance the spirit of Ricks College as we progress on our voyage of high adventure in a sea of rapid change."

Also present at the inauguration were Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy and president of BYU, and his wife, Marilyn; Mary Ellen W. Smoot, Relief Society general president and a member of the Ricks College Board of Trustees, and her husband, Stanley; Pres. Stephen K. Woodhouse of LDS Business College, and his wife, Sytske; and Pres. Bennion, who is now president of Southern Utah University, and his wife, Marjorie. Accompanying Ricks Pres. Bednar was his wife, Susan, and two of their three sons, Eric, 21; and Jeff, 15. Anther son, Michael, 19, is serving a full-time mission.

Offering the invocation was G. Paul Sorenson, secretary to the Board of Trustees and administrator of finance and budgets for the Church Educational System; Sister Smoot gave the benediction.

Offering greetings to the new president were J.D. Williams, Idaho state controller; Douglas S. Ladle, president of the Ricks College Faculty Association; Delbert Edstrom, president of the college's Alumni Association; and James Randolph Garn, president of the Associated Students of Ricks College.

Providing music was the Ricks College Combined Choirs and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kevin Call and Steven Dresen.

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