Coordinates: 43°49′23″N 111°47′7″W / 43.82306°N 111.78528°W / 43.82306; -111.78528 Brigham Young University–Idaho (BYU–Idaho or BYU–I) is a private university located in Rexburg, Idaho. Founded in 1888, the university is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), transitioned from a junior college to a four-year institution in 2001, and was known for the greater part of its history as Ricks College.
BYU-Idaho offers programs in liberal arts, engineering, agriculture, management, and performing arts. The university is broadly organized into six colleges, and its parent organization, the Church Educational System, sponsors sister schools in Utah and Hawaii. The university's focus is on undergraduate education, hosting 18 associate and over 70 bachelor's degree programs; and it operates using a three-semester system also known as "tracks".
Students at BYU-Idaho are required to follow an honor code, which mandates behavior in line with LDS teachings (e.g., academic honesty, adherence to dress and grooming standards, and abstinence from extramarital sex and from the consumption of drugs and alcohol). Approximately 99% of the university's students are members of the LDS Church, and a significant percentage of the student body take an 18- (women) or 24-month (men) hiatus from their studies to serve as missionaries. A BYU-Idaho education is generally less expensive than similar private universities, due largely to a significant funding by LDS Church tithing funds, helping keep tuition rates low.
Since becoming a four-year institution, BYU-Idaho no longer hosts intercollegiate athletic teams but instead organizes intramural programs, as part of the larger student activity program.
On November 12, 1888, the LDS Church created the Bannock Stake Academy in Rexburg. The precursor to BYU-Idaho, like several other colleges and universities across the mountain west, was established as a "stake academy" first, as Mormon settlers colonized the eastern Snake River Plain in the 1880s. As a stake academy, its purpose was that of a modern secondary school as public schools had not yet been established. As the population grew, it became necessary to divide the geographical area designated by the LDS Church as the Bannock Stake. The Fremont Stake was created, and thus in 1898 the school was renamed the Fremont Stake Academy.
In 1903, the school was renamed again as Ricks Academy in honor of Thomas E. Ricks, the Bannock Stake president at the time it was founded and the chairman of the school's first Board of Education. By the early twentieth century, stake academies had largely been discontinued as public schools became more established in the western United States. Ricks Academy survived as it had added a year of college work to its curriculum and in 1917 was granted state certification, which allowed graduates to teach in the state of Idaho. At that point, it was known as Ricks Normal College with George S. Romney as its first president. In 1923 it was renamed Ricks College and functioned as a two-year junior college. It would serve as a junior college for most of the remainder of the twentieth century, except for a brief period from 1948 to 1956 when it operated as a four-year institution.
Although the school was threatened with closing in the 1930s because of the Great Depression, it emerged with the support of local patrons and accreditation with the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. During the 1976 Teton Dam flood, Ricks College was used as a center for disaster relief operations. By the late twentieth century, the college had become the largest private junior college in the country with over 7,500 students.
On June 21, 2000, the LDS Church announced that Ricks College would become a four-year institution known as Brigham Young University–Idaho. This change became official just over a year later on August 10, 2001. Among the changes were the elimination of the intercollegiate athletic program and the institution of a larger activities and intramural athletics program. The school also established the current "three-track" system, which admitted students on a specific track of two semesters (including the Spring semester), rather than the standard fall and winter semesters. To accommodate growth in recent years, the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center was renovated and enlarged and a new auditorium building with seating for 15,000 was built, the buildings were dedicated in December 2010.
The campus sits on a hill overlooking the city of Rexburg and the Snake River Valley and includes nearly forty major buildings and residence halls on over 400 acres (1.6 km2). Off-campus facilities include a Livestock Center and the Henry’s Fork Outdoor Learning Center near Rexburg, the Outdoor Learning Center at Badger Creek in Idaho’s Teton Basin, and the Natural Science Center in Island Park, Idaho. The Teton Lodge and Quickwater Lodge near Victor, Idaho, are utilized as student leadership and service centers.
The main campus includes a planetarium, an arboretum, wildlife museums, and a large family history center. The school also operates several athletic fields and facilities around campus, which are now used as part of the Activities program, an alternative to intercollegiate sports. Facilities include a baseball field, football and track stadium, tennis courts, as well as the John Hart Physical Education building, which with 4,000 seats in its main gym was used for athletic events, graduation, and concerts, and weekly campus devotional. The building also includes a small field house, pool, auxiliary gymnasiums, racquetball courts, and a workout area for students. On December 17, 2010, the BYU-Idaho Center was dedicated and opened to students. The 435,000-square-foot (40,400 m2) building contains a 15,000-seat auditorium and a multi-purpose area large enough for 10 full basketball courts.
In support of the fine arts and entertainment, the campus also includes the Ruth K. Barrus Concert Hall, which houses the acclaimed Ruffatti organ, the third largest organ owned by the LDS Church after those housed in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and Conference Center, respectively. KBYI-FM, a 100,000 watt public radio station, also broadcasts to eastern Idaho and parts of Wyoming and Montana from the campus.
BYU-Idaho is led by Kim B. Clark, who began serving as president in 2005 after serving as dean of the Harvard Business School. Along with other members of the Church Educational System, BYU-Idaho is under the direction of a Board of Trustees, which includes the LDS Church's First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, other general authorities, and presidents of auxiliary organizations. BYU-Idaho is organized into six colleges:
Despite the change to a four-year institution, BYU-Idaho still offers several Associate-degree programs in addition to its Bachelor-degree programs. Across the six colleges, there are thirty-seven departments, offering over 70 bachelor-level programs and eighteen associate-degree programs.
The academic year is divided into three equal semesters (fall, winter, spring) of fourteen weeks and is known as the "three-track" system. It was instituted in 2001 as part of the transition from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho and the school's "Rethinking Education" campaign. When a student is admitted to BYU-Idaho, they are also assigned to a specific two-semester "track," (fall-winter, winter-spring, or spring-fall) based partly on preference, degree program, and availability to balance. Initially, the fall and winter semesters were slightly longer (and thus more heavily attended) than the summer semester and had more class options. Beginning in January 2007, the school adjusted the academic calendar equalizing the amount of time available in each semester, lengthening the class periods, and opening class offerings in the spring to allow more students to attend in the spring semester. There is also a short, 2-month summer session with accelerated class schedules. BYU-Idaho also offers "fast grad" which allows students to attend all semesters and finish their degree sooner. This is usually available as an option to students who have an upper sophomore or higher standing.
There were 14,944 full-time students enrolled at BYU–Idaho during the Fall 2010 semester. Students come from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. According to a 2005 survey, almost 40% of BYU–Idaho students came from the state of Idaho, with the majority of students coming from five states: Idaho 38%, Utah 10%, California 10%, Washington 8%, and New Mexico 6%. Thus, the student body at BYU–Idaho is notably homogeneous—not only due to its geographic representation but also due to ethnicity and religion. During the Winter 2006 semester, 91% of the students were Caucasian, while the largest minority group for the Winter 2006 semester was Hispanic, representing 3% of the student body. Moreover, during the Winter 2006 semester, 99.8% of the students were members of the LDS Church. The school's Board of Trustees approved an increase in the single semester enrollment cap, raising it from 11,600 to 12,500 students beginning during the winter semester of 2010. This cap does not include continuing education students, or students who are off track. The enrollment is planned to go up in steps reaching 15,000 students on campus between 2013 and 2014. As part of the university's ongoing expansion plan, and to meet increasing admission demands, the estimated headcount between 2013 and 2014 will be roughly 17,000 students per semester, equaling more than 25,000 students annually (given the university's three-year academic calendar). Admissions to the university is deemed "less selective" for 2009 by U.S. News & World Report.
Known as the Vikings, Ricks College fielded an intercollegiate athletics program from 1919-2002 in the National Junior College Athletic Association, earning 17 national titles, 61 individual national titles, and producing nearly 100 first-team All-Americans. National title wins included Women's Cross Country (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), Men's Cross Country (1965, 1966, 1986, 1999, 2000, 2001), Women's Track and Field (1997), and Women's Volleyball (1974; AIAW). More than 25 alumni who played football for Ricks went on to play professionally in the National Football League or Canadian Football League.
It was announced in June 2000 that the athletics program would be phased out as part of the change from a junior college to a four-year college, due mainly to the costs associated with running a college athletic department.
Following the phasing out of intercollegiate athletics, BYU–Idaho developed a competitive intramural (or, as the school uses, "intracollegiate") athletics program which functions as part of Student Activities. Several teams from within the school compete against one another in a variety of sports throughout the year, complete with regular seasons and playoffs.
The atmosphere at BYU–Idaho is different from most other universities due to its affiliation with the LDS Church. For example, almost every Tuesday that school is in session a devotional is held on campus where no classes are held, administrative offices close, and students and faculty are encouraged to attend the hour-long worship service either in person (in the BYU-Idaho Center), via campus TV, or on the radio at KBYI 94.3 FM. Speakers are selected from the campus and local communities, as well as from LDS Church general authorities who share a spiritually uplifting message. Students are also encouraged to attend weekly church meetings, held every Sunday.
BYU-Idaho had been the only university affiliated with the LDS Church that did not have a nearby temple. That changed with the construction of the Rexburg Idaho Temple which was dedicated on February 10, 2008.
Despite its transition from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho, leaders of the university have maintained the desire to preserve what they call the "Spirit of Ricks," a campus tradition of service, hard work, friendliness, and compassion. The school's relative geographic isolation from a metropolitan area, combined with the strong moral standards taught and encouraged by the school and its sponsoring organization, contribute to a unique student culture unlike that of many universities, but with some basic similarities to the other LDS Church-owned campuses in Utah and Hawaii. Alcohol and drug use is virtually nonexistent, as these substances are strictly prohibited by the school's honor code and the LDS Church. There is also no Greek system.
Much of BYU–Idaho student life revolves around events sponsored by the school organization Student Activities, which frequently hosts dances, concerts, sports events, and service projects. A three-day series of concerts called "Guitars Unplugged," held each semester, features mainly acoustic music performed by student performers and groups who are selected by audition. The school has recently been developing a thriving jazz scene, which is aggressively promoted by students who participate in jazz area classes, such as the Sound Alliance Big Band and jazz combos, as well as music department faculty. Faculty jazz concerts and the annual BYU–Idaho Jazz festival are also becoming popular events with students. The school has featured such artists as Cyrus Chestnut, Nicholas Payton, Bob Mintzer, and Harold Jones.
Rexburg is situated in a strong northern climate in which winter dominates, and as such, winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and ice hockey are popular. There are two nearby ski resorts, Grand Targhee and Kelly Canyon, which are frequented by students. However, Rexburg also experiences warm summers, and bridge jumping has become a popular activity with many summer students. Students also visit the nearby St. Anthony sand dunes frequently, where large bonfires and camp outs have become popular.
All students and faculty, regardless of religion, are required to agree to adhere to an honor code. Early forms of the BYU Honor Code are found as far back as the days of the Brigham Young Academy and educator Karl G. Maeser. Maeser created the "Domestic Organization", which was a group of teachers who would visit students at their homes to see that they were following the school's moral rules prohibiting obscenity, profanity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The Honor Code itself was created in 1940 at BYU and was used mainly for cases of cheating and academic dishonesty. Ernest L. Wilkinson expanded the Honor Code in 1957 to include other school standards (at the time, Wilkinson, as president of BYU, and the director of the what was then the Unified Church School System, had some authority over all of the church's schools). This led to what the Honor Code represents today: rules regarding chastity, dress, grooming, drugs and alcohol in addition to academic honesty. A signed commitment to live the Honor Code is part of the application process for all LDS-affiliated schools, and must be adhered to by all students, faculty, and staff. Students and faculty found in violation of standards are either warned or called to meet with representatives of the Honor Council. In rare cases, students and faculty can be expelled from the school for excessive misbehavior. In addition to the general Honor Code common at all LDS schools, the BYU–Idaho Honor Code prohibits bib overalls, baseball caps (worn inside classrooms), shorts or capri pants, flip-flops (sandals), and also any worn, faded, or patched clothing on campus.
Single students are required to live in housing that is approved by the university. All approved housing options are located within a mile of the university. Co-ed housing is prohibited according to the Honor Code, but some complexes have separate buildings for men and women. Married students are not required to live in approved housing and may live wherever they choose.
As of August 2008, BYU–Idaho has approximately 150,000 alumni, including those from the period when the school functioned as an academy (equivalent to a modern high school). The school's alumni include two-time Olympic medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling (gold in 2000) Rulon Gardner and MLB pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, Matt Lindstrom. Another alumnus is Marion G. Romney, a former counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency, who was valedictorian of the Ricks Academy class of 1918.