“Ricks Becomes Brigham Young University—Idaho,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 69
As Brigham Young University—Idaho (formerly Ricks College) winds up its first semester, many changes are under way.
The decision to change the school from a two-year college to a four-year university was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley in June 2000. The name change was designed to help give the school immediate national and international recognition.
This fall’s homecoming week, held 18–22 September, included special events celebrating the change: the lighting of a “Legacy Torch” symbolizing the legacy and spirit of Ricks College; a torchlight parade by night; fireworks; a concert with Gladys Knight and alumni performers; and the final homecoming football game.
Commencing homecoming week was a devotional address given by Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who is the Church Commissioner of Education and a former president of Ricks College. Speaking of the school’s transition, Elder Eyring told students and faculty that “change will not end. The phrase ‘rethinking education’ is not to be only a slogan for the transformation from a two- to four-year status. The school is to be a place of educational innovation permanently,” he said.
“The people who serve here have found a way to make changes … great and rapid changes … that will enhance, not replace, the best of what the school has always been. Because of that, I can with confidence make you a promise. When you return in some distant future, you will find great innovation has become commonplace, and yet, amidst all the change, the school will have retained and enriched the basic characteristics which blessed your life.”
Milestones during the past year have included the hiring of 25 new faculty members, groundbreaking for the new Jacob Spori and multiuse buildings, announcement of the Thomas E. Ricks Building, and candidacy status for accreditation of the proposed bachelor’s degree programs.
A record 9,200 students enrolled at BYU—Idaho this fall semester as the school began offering 17 bachelor’s degrees along with traditional associate degrees. About 50 baccalaureate programs are planned to be implemented by 2004. The university expects to continue to experience a modest increase in the size of the student body during the next few years, reaching an expected high of 11,600 students in 2005.
To accommodate a greater number of students, BYU—Idaho will fully utilize facilities year-round, offering a wide variety of courses during the summer as well as the traditional fall and winter semesters. Students will be admitted on one of four academic tracks. Besides the traditional fall-winter track, the school will offer a winter-summer track, a summer-fall track, and a year-round fast track program.
Intercollegiate athletics will be phased out at the end of the 2001–2 academic year. A new student activities program is designed to meet the extracurricular needs of the diverse student body. The program will have an array of year-round activities in three areas: service and social, visual and performing arts, and physical activities. Each area is structured to give students numerous opportunities for involvement at leisure, instructional, recreational, and competitive levels of interest.