Fall Summit 2003: Letter from the President

Letter from the President
President Robert and Estella Wilkes

Dear Alumni and Friends, 

As Estella and I return from retirement to the campus of Brigham Young University–Idaho, it has been wonderful to experience our professional home again and realize more fully the blessings that exist at this institution.  

In the short time I have served as interim president, I have reflected upon a remarkable insight described by Elder David A. Bednar in his Inaugural Response on February 27, 1998. He stated: 

I have been intrigued by and diligently studying the account in the Book of Mormon of Lehi’s family and their travels in the wilderness. …Nephi was commanded and instructed to build something [a ship] he had never built before in order to go someplace he had never been before. May I suggest that Nephi’s experience in building that ship is a model for us at Ricks College as we prepare for and move into the next century. We, too, must build something we have never built before in order to go someplace we have never been before. (Emphasis added.)

This message was delivered over two years prior to the announcement that Ricks College would become BYU–Idaho. Now, seven years later, the question is: Where are we in that process? As I ponder my responsibility, it is evident the ship has been constructed and the destination has been identified. We have not arrived yet, but we are out of the harbor and moving forward. The previous captain has been assigned to another ship, and a new captain will be coming soon. We are in an interim period.

What are we to do during this period? We are not to construct another ship, identify a new destination, or change course. We are not to return to safe harbor. And we are not to drop anchor. Ours is the opportunity to become better sailors—even great sailors. We can reinforce our commitment to the mission of this university as well as our ability to lift others. We can increase our faith in the future and our commitment to Jesus Christ and His larger purposes. In summary, this is a time to strengthen our ability to walk the disciple’s path.

I invite you to review this edition of Summit Magazine where you will learn more about the special atmosphere found at BYU–Idaho—including personal insights from faculty as they share their teaching experiences, information on the new Thomas E. Ricks Building and surrounding Gardens, and a special photo tribute to Elder David A. Bednar’s tenure as President of BYU–Idaho.


Robert M. Wilkes
Interim President, Brigham Young University–Idaho