The experimental gardens south of the Manwaring Center at Ricks College say a lot about the campus. A few feet below the surface, the hill on which they’re growing is solid basalt. But the soil on top of the rock is rich and fertile, and during the growing season flowers carpet the ground with color in those gardens and around campus buildings.
Ricks College was also built on a solid foundation and has blossomed into a nationally recognized institution. This year, the Church-owned school celebrates its centennial. Commemorative events will run into 1989, culminating with the college’s commencement on April 27. But on November 12 Ricks is marking Founders’ Day—the day classes were first held at the academy in 1888—with a gala centennial concert on campus. Singer Roberta Peters will join the Idaho Falls Symphony Orchestra in a salute to American musician Irving Berlin, who is one hundred years old.
Ricks, located in Rexburg, Idaho, is the largest privately owned two-year college in the United States. The 255-acre campus offers academic courses in more than 140 majors, from art to zoology, from engineering to music and theater.
A full-time faculty of 250 serves an average of about 7,000 students during the traditional fall-winter academic year; in addition, nearly a thousand students took advantage of summer school opportunities in 1987. Students come from all fifty of the United States and some thirty other countries.
The college was founded by Bannock Stake president and pioneer colonizer Thomas E. Ricks in 1888. First known as the Bannock Stake Academy, it had eighty-two students and three teachers and offered only elementary-school studies. Growth was slow during the first several decades of its existence, but more favorable economic and academic conditions have helped Ricks blossom during the past twenty-five years.
Despite the growth, classes are smaller than at many other schools, and students come to know their professors on a personal basis. Faculty members often find themselves serving as mentors to young people just starting out on a career path. Asked about his academic specialization, one popular biology teacher replies, “My specialty is freshmen.”
Ricks is widely known for its programs in the arts (the Eliza R. Snow Center for the Performing Arts is a showplace) and in biological and agricultural sciences. The school sponsors an all-student symphony orchestra and owns KRIC, a 75,000-watt FM radio station with a classical music format. Several Ricks faculty members have seen their research achieve the highest professional recognition—acceptance as the foundation for studies by others.
In recent years Ricks has also gained a reputation as a sports power. Viking football, basketball, wrestling, track, and volleyball teams have consistently been nationally ranked throughout the 1980s.
In addition to academic progress and sports prowess, Ricks offers students the opportunity to build on spiritual foundations. The college’s thirty-three wards and three stakes bring great spiritual growth to many students.
Ricks administrators and faculty members believe that the college offers students the chance to put down roots in fertile academic and spiritual soil. In the classroom, students can lay the foundation for high achievement in their chosen field of study—and through a broad range of experiences at the school, they can lay the foundation for righteous, productive living.