“Ricks College Inaugurates Twelfth President,” Ensign, Dec. 1986, 69
President Ezra Taft Benson presided as Joe J. Christensen was inaugurated as the twelfth president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, October 10.
The inauguration, originally scheduled for 8 November 1985, was postponed because of the death of President Spencer W. Kimball. President Christensen has been serving as acting president of the college in the interim.
Speaking of President Christensen in the inaugural address, President Benson said: “I thank the Lord for this great leader you have at this institution of learning, and I hope and pray that he will have the opportunity, from time to time, to spread his philosophy throughout this student body.
“God bless the students who are here,” President Benson added. “I know that God will bless them as they seek to have his Spirit in the classroom.” Referring to that Spirit, the President said, “It’s so needed today.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve gave the formal charge of responsibility to President Christensen.
“This institution is unique among colleges,” he said. “Here are taught truths that are eternal, unchanging, and ever more.
“I charge you to educate your students in truth. Train their minds and hands to serve with skill and with trust. Teach them principles of morality and honesty that will enhance their worth as citizens of society and of the kingdom of God. Cause them to honor our Creator, who lends us breath and sustains us from day to day.”
Accepting the charge, President Christensen said, “I appreciate belonging to a church that emphasizes the importance of truth and its pursuit. Our faith teaches that the gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth.
“I like that idea,” he continued. “It helps make every academic subject one studies a meaningful part of the pursuit of truth and in ways a meaningful religious experience.”
Elder Robert B. Harbertson of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Bishop Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, also attended the inaugural ceremony. J. Elliot Cameron, commissioner of the Church Educational System, conducted.
Others present included Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society general president; Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president; and Dwan J. Young, Primary general president.
President Christensen succeeds Bruce C. Hafen, who now serves as dean of the Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School. President Christensen has served for more than thirty years in the Church Educational System and was an assistant commissioner prior to his appointment at Ricks College.
He has served as the director of the Institutes of Religion adjacent to Washington State University, the University of Idaho, and the University of Utah.
From 1980 to 1983 President Christensen was president of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He is also a former president of the Mexico City Mission and currently serves as regional representative in the Shelley and Custer Idaho regions. He also serves as commissioner in the Teton Peaks Council, Boy Scouts of America.
He completed his undergraduate work at Utah State University and Brigham Young University and earned a Ph.D. from Washington State University.
He and his wife, the former Barbara Kohler of Midway, Utah, have six children and fourteen grandchildren.