In an address given on the BYU-Idaho campus, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared, "Education is part of our religion" (Brigham Young University-Idaho Inauguration, 11 October 2005, p. 1). Indeed, since the earliest days of the Restoration, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been counseled to "seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118).
As the Saints moved west in the mid-1800s, they were diligent in attending to the educational needs of their children, establishing academies in various communities. In 1888, "Latter-day Saint pioneers came to [Rexburg] for the Lord. They built [the Bannock Stake Academy] in their poverty. The first principal, Jacob Spori, housed his family in an unheated grain storage shed his first winter because that's all they had. The people here have treated all they had as the Lord's and always counted it as enough. . . . Because of that faithful obedience and sacrifice, . . . the Lord has poured out His Spirit here" (Henry B. Eyring, "A Steady Upward Course," BYU-Idaho Devotional, 18 September 2001, p. 7).
Maintaining the values that marked its early pioneer heritage, the Bannock Stake Academy grew into Ricks College almost a hundred years ago and, more recently, into Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Today, the University works hard to build upon those values and to maintain what has become known as the "Spirit of Ricks." Elder David A. Bednar explained that "The Spirit of Ricks is the Holy Ghost and its attendant spiritual gifts. The workings of the Holy Ghost in this sacred and set apart place are affectionately and warmly referred to as the Spirit of Ricks." (Thomas E. Ricks Building Dedication, 18 February 2005).
Brigham Young University-Idaho was founded and is supported and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its mission is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities. The University does this by:
1. Building testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraging living its principles.
2. Providing a quality education for students of diverse interests and abilities.
3. Preparing students for lifelong learning, for employment, and for their roles as citizens and parents.
4. Maintaining a wholesome academic, cultural, social, and spiritual environment.
Because the University is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of the campus community recognize the inspired leadership of the prophet of the Church. Further, BYU-Idaho is led by the Board of Trustees, Commissioner of Church Education, and University president.
The Board of Trustees is comprised of the First Presidency, three representatives from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, the Relief Society general president, and the Young Women general president. Their insight, wisdom, and vision for the future of the University are given primary emphasis at all times.
The Board approves the annual budget; facilities allocation; Foundations curriculum; new majors and programs; significant changes in existing programs; faculty hiring; discipline and standards for faculty; and Executive Office and Academic Office positions.
The Board of Trustees appoints a Commissioner of Church Education who oversees all Church Educational System (CES) entities, including the institutions of higher education: Brigham Young University, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, and LDS Business College; the seminary and institute of religion programs; and a number of primary and secondary schools.
The Board of Trustees appoints a president for each university to oversee the operations of the school. The president of BYU-Idaho has full administrative leave, though he may elect to teach a class, schedule permitting.
The University uses a three-semester calendar, with most students attending one track of two semesters: Fall / Winter, Winter / Spring, or Spring / Fall. Students with 60 credits may apply for Fast Grad, a program which allows them to attend school year-round, taking 15 credits per semester.
Summer Session is offered during July and August.
The University implements an interdisciplinary approach to general education known as Foundations. As the name suggests, Foundations is designed to provide students with a strong base for their University experience and for lifelong learning. Students are required to take courses in four areas:
- Eternal Truths
- Academic Fundamentals
- Cultural Awareness
BYU-Idaho offers both associate and bachelor's degrees in a variety of professional and technical areas. Courses are offered on the Rexburg campus, online, and at specialized settings and satellite facilities throughout the world.
The Church is committed to adequately funding the University's educational programs and related activities, primarily from tithes and offerings. Those who learn and teach at BYU-Idaho gratefully recognize the faith, confidence, and sacrifice of the dedicated Church members who provide the financial resources of the school.
Devotionals are held each Tuesday during the 2:00 pm hour. Devotionals provide an important setting for studying the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel. All University employees and students are invited to attend. They are encouraged to bring scriptures and to prepare by accessing the materials posted on the University website.