“The symbolism of it opening to heaven is absolutely perfect for this place,” said Elder Henry B. Eyring after seeing a large shaft of light flow into the new Jacob Spori Building on Aug. 22, 2003, the day the building was dedicated.
Now serving as the commissioner of education for the Church Educational System, Elder Eyring said his office used to be located in the original Spori Building when he served as president of Ricks College and resided in Rexburg. “As I lived here for a number of years, I think I came to feel what the tradition really is,” he said. According to Elder Eyring, part of the history is that “we can get by without lavishness and we try to do what God wants.”
President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, dedicated the new building that houses the College of Performing and Visual Arts, the Department of Communication, and the Department of Art. He paid tribute to Jacob Spori, who served as the first principal of what eventually became BYU–Idaho.
“He had set the example of selfless service which became a characteristic of principals of the fledgling academy,” he said.
President Monson added, “To you here today who are administrators and teachers, you will stand before those who have struggled and saved and planned so that they might be your students. Treat them with dignity and provide them your very best. You not only teach a subject; you also mold human nature. You light the lamp of learning, that your students will better understand their earthly mission.”
It was a day of remembrance. BYU–Idaho President David Bednar honored the descendants of Jacob Spori, including three grandchildren who were present for the dedication: Edna Stowell Taylor ’33 of Rexburg; Paul Roschi Stowell ’47 of Logan, Utah; and Robert Kerr ’34 of Mapleton, Utah.
“In 2003, we gather to reverence the legacy of Ricks College and to look forward to the future of BYU–Idaho,” President Bednar said. “The new Spori Building in 2003 represents the beginning of BYU–Idaho. There is on our campus today a renewed spirit of pioneering and sacrifice and experimenting and serving—indeed a rethinking of education.”
President Bednar went on to say, “Those of us who now serve at BYU–Idaho acknowledge the hand of the Lord in the establishment, in the development, and in the progress and advancement of this remarkable institution. And we pledge our hearts and our hands and our minds and our spirits in service to the students who do now and will yet walk upon those same sacred pathways to obtain spiritual and secular truth. We will become the best we can become so we can most effectively teach and serve those students.”
Following the dedication, Spori family members assembled for a photo in front of the towering structure. Others who were also in attendance were then invited to join in a large photo of the historic occasion.
Edna Taylor, a granddaughter of Jacob Spori, said it was a wonderful day for her family. “It gave me a big thrill,” she said. “It was wonderful for me to meet my old dear friends.” As a former art teacher at South Fremont High School in nearby St. Anthony, she was impressed with the new art gallery. “I like the idea of having a permanent place for the art work.”
Having taught classes for 28 years in the old Spori, retiring art instructor Richard Bird said the building “became a part of me.… It had its own smell, its own flavor, its own character.” Bird says the new building “seems to say, ‘Give me a chance and I will serve you well.’ It must earn its place in history as the original Spori did, but it too has a special spirit about it. I believe that is so because of those who dedicated their lives to the first Spori.”
Robyn Hill Bergstrom ’75, a Ricks alumna who serves as the associate dean for the College of Business and Communication and teaches in the Department of Communication, also loved the old Spori Building. “It has so many wonderful memories,” she says. “But now we have a new Spori…. There is still an incredible feeling as I walk these hallowed halls. I feel it an honor to teach and have an office in this building.”
Bergstrom adds, “I love the sound that your feet make as you go up the stairs. I love looking down from the second story at the art gallery. I love teaching where there are windows. I love the way the old Spori is honored and preserved on the third floor. It is different, but it is still wonderful.”