“It’s a great day at BYU-Idaho,” said university President Kim B. Clark at the onset of the dedication services for the BYU-Idaho Center and the remodeled Hyrum Manwaring Student Center on Friday in Rexburg.
And that much was evident as nearly 15,000 students and community residents nearly filled the giant auditorium to hear the dedicatory prayer and spiritual remarks from three prominent leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Henry B.Eyring, first counselor in the LDS First Presidency and a former president of Ricks College, was the keynote speaker. He also gave the dedicatory prayer.
He spoke of some initial surprise at the announcement of the BYU-Idaho Center citing a statement made by former LDS Church President Gordan B. Hinckley during the announcement of the Ricks College/BYU-Idaho transition in 2000.
Quoting Hinckley, Eyring said, “With some additions and modifications, the physical facilities now in place in Rexburg are adequate to handle the new program. Undoubtedly some changes to the campus will be necessary — however, they will be modest in nature and scope.”
Eyring offered a brief chuckle at the statement and recounted how a proposal was drawn up to build a 12,000-seat auditorium which Hinckley would later increased to 15,000 seats.
Eyring also spoke about how Hinckley had pushed the project ahead of schedule and that because of that, all of the financing for the building was committed before the economic crash in 2008.
“The university is on a steady, upward course that will allow it to play a remarkable role in the church and in the world,” Eyring said.
The former Ricks College president began his talk saying how good it was to be back.
“I’m particularly grateful to return to Rexburg.”
He also said that it was the people of the community that helped to bring the special feeling to the campus, as the founders of the university in the area, “wanted something more than secular learning and social experiences” of other universities.
Accompanying Eyring were two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder David A Bednar, who is also a former BYU-Idaho president.
Nelson spoke briefly about his relationships with past presidents of Ricks College and BYU-Idaho.
“On this day of the dedication of the new BYU-Idaho Center, you could each take this opportunity to rededicate yourself to the same principles that have made these presidents such great individuals,” said Nelson. “They follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and they likewise set examples for us emulate.”
An emotional Bednar began his address by saying, “Brothers and sisters, it’s good to be home.”
He went on to talk about the divine role of BYU-Idaho.
“It is clear to me that this facility has been constructed at this time and at this place for reasons we do not yet fully comprehend or understand,” said Bednar. “As we wait upon the Lord, his purposes will be revealed and accomplished.”
Bednar also cautioned students about intellectual arrogance, encouraged intellectual modesty and stressed the importance of retaining the “Spirit of Ricks.”
Bednar, Nelson and Eyring all gave thanks to the many people and companies that made the BYU-Idaho Center possible, including the tithes that church members pay to build such projects.
The entire dedication is available to be viewed online at stream.byui.edu/stream/dedication.