REXBURG, Idaho — Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated the Thomas E. Ricks Building and Gardens on the campus of BYU-Idaho on Feb. 18.
"The on-going tribute we pay to Thomas E. Ricks, a tribute far more meaningful and significant than naming a university or a building, or a garden in his honor, is that the workings of the Holy Ghost in this sacred and set apart place are affectionately and warmly referred to as the 'Spirit of Ricks,' " Elder Bednar told some 240 gathered in a lecture hall in the new building and the more than 1,500 seated in overflow areas.
The new 56,200-square-foot edifice and gardens are named in honor of Thomas E. Ricks, who established Bannock Stake Academy in 1888, later known as Ricks College. Ricks College became BYU-Idaho in 2001. He also founded the city of Rexburg where BYU-Idaho is located.
Elder Bednar, who served as president of Ricks College/BYU-Idaho from 1997-2004, spoke of "The Spirit of Ricks," saying it "suggests the spirituality, the desire for obedience, the personal caring and warmth, the humility and modesty, the friendliness, the genuine concern for others, the bright smiles and cheerful hellos, and so many other things that make this university an unusually inviting, supporting and nurturing place."
The apostle specifically defined the "Spirit of Ricks" as "the Holy Ghost and His attendant spiritual gifts."
Continuing, Elder Bednar spoke of spiritual gifts that are specific to the BYU-Idaho campus. "The gift of smiling, the gift of learning or teaching without becoming intellectually arrogant, the gift of cheerfulness, the gift of avoiding the supposed cleverness and cuteness of secular cynicism and the gift of academic integrity."
Elder Bednar said the new building and adjacent gardens will offer places of learning, and pondering but, most important, places of revelation.
Also offering remarks during the dedication were Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, and Interim-BYU-Idaho President Robert M. Wilkes. In his comments, Elder Kerr spoke of "the marvelous role that Elder Bednar played in the visionary approach that was taken in response to the prophetic direction given to this institution."
President Wilkes added: "We are especially pleased . . . considering his essential and central role in the planning and construction of this building."
In speaking of the legacy of Thomas E. Ricks, President Wilkes said, "It seems fitting that the person most singly responsible for the institution's beginning and early survival will be remembered in perpetuity by the single most identifiable garden on campus and the new building constructed specifically to address academic needs related to the transition from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho."
Attending the dedication were descendants of Thomas E. Ricks, including Mark G. Ricks, a great-grandson, who spoke briefly during the dedication of the influence of his ancestor in preserving Ricks College despite the many setbacks it faced in its first years.
When President Gordon B. Hinckley announced in 2000 that Ricks College would become Brigham Young University-Idaho, he emphasized, "The memory of Thomas E. Ricks will continue to be appropriately honored and perpetuated."
The new building was announced in April 2001 by then-President Bednar, who said, "It is most appropriate that this new academic building and beautiful garden area bear the name of Thomas E. Ricks as a lasting tribute to his valiant and pioneering education efforts."
The newly dedicated building houses the Department of Mathematics, Department of History, Department of Geography and Political Science, Department of Psychology and the Department Sociology and Social Work. It includes 23 classrooms, 58 offices, four secretarial reception areas and an animal science laboratory.