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Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency speaks during dedicatory services at BYU-Idaho.

REXBURG, Idaho — Dedication services for more than 675,000 square feet of new or remodeled facilities on the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus brought two Mormon apostles and a member of the First Presidency to Rexburg on Friday.

The newly dedicated auditorium, named the BYU-Idaho Center, shares a common, smaller resemblance to the Conference Center on Temple Square and seats 15,000, serving as the main gathering place for the students and faculty of the university and community.

The new facility's purpose is to strengthen students spiritually, academically, physically and socially.

The BYU-Idaho Center includes a new auditorium and a multipurpose gymnasium. The gym has room for 10 sports courts and a suspended indoor jogging track. In addition to recreational activities, the gym will serve as a place to gather for service projects, employee gatherings, ecclesiastical meetings, academic projects and any other need. A bridge from the John W. Hart Building on campus has been constructed, connecting students to the new building.

The dedication, which was available online, also included the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center that was built in 1966, after three phases of major renovations to the original building. Those changes include a new University Store and renovations to the kitchen and food court, including an 18,000-square-foot dining area named The Crossroads. A convenience store, dance studio suite and new area for the activities program were also added.

During the dedication, Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Russell M. Nelson, both of the Quorum of the Twelve, and President Henry B. Eyring, of the First Presidency, each spoke.

"It's good to be home," said Elder Bednar, who formerly served as BYU-Idaho president from 1997-2004. "This dedicatory service today truly is historic. You will tell your children and your grandchildren you were present when this remarkable facility was dedicated by President Henry B. Eyring."

Drawing from his talk at the groundbreaking service for the building's construction and the Manwaring building's renovations, Elder Bednar spoke of a warning and a promise he gave on Oct. 31, 2006.

"If the day ever were to come that intellectual arrogance, a lack of appreciation and the spirit of demanding entitlement take root on this campus among the students, faculty, employees, administration or within the community, then in that day the spirit of Ricks will be well on the way to being extinguished," he said. "And the heavenly influence and blessings that have prospered this institution and the people associated with it will be withdrawn."

In contrast, he said, "as long as intellectual modesty, humility, gratitude, obedience and frugality continue to characterize those who learn and serve at and support BYU-Idaho, then this university will shine forth ever brighter as a beacon of righteousness and of inspired educational innovation."

Elder Nelson spoke of the opportunity individuals have at the time of dedication to rededicate their lives to following the Lord Jesus Christ by emulating his example and the example of His servants.

"This institution has had many outstanding presidents," Elder Nelson said. "Since the year 1971 it has been my privilege to work closely with six great men inaugurated as presidents of this institution. … They set examples worthy of our emulation. They come from different backgrounds in life, but they have each been disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Elder Nelson shared four examples of how individuals can emulate the Savior — as well as his servants — as they dedicate their lives to the principles of the gospel. He said that through regular prayer, regarding other people respectfully, studying both spiritual and secular subjects symmetrically and being faithful in the payment of tithes, individuals are blessed. Those actions lead individuals to an unshakable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

President Eyring, who served as president of Ricks College, the predecessor to BYU-Idaho, from 1971-77, spoke of the great people who attend the university.

"I am often asked if I knew, as the president of Ricks College, what its future held," President Eyring said. "I did not see that the college would become the university it is today. There were only subtle impressions — feeling that this was a special place that needed to keep its spiritual standards high while staying close to its roots. I particularly felt the need to maintain our pioneer frugality."

Remembering the time when President Gordon B. Hinckley called him into his office to discuss the possibility of Ricks College becoming a four-year university, President Eyring spoke of the process the university went through to become the school it is today.

"In the summer of 2000, President Hinckley announced the creation of BYU-Idaho, he projected that the school would grow in terms of students served," he said. "He cited year-round operation and innovative instructional technologies as the primary means for enabling that growth."

Despite challenges encountered with the building phase, President Eyring said that the construction of the new building and renovations to the Manwaring Center were done under prophetic inspiration.

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"I am not sure of what the Lord has planned for this university. Some future growth seems likely and the university seems to have been prepared to respond. These two facilities we dedicate today may be part of that preparation," he said. "We cannot see the future with precision but we can know what the Lord intends to accomplish and what it will take each of us to qualify personally to participate. He has laid plans for preparing the church for His return. He reveals those plans a line at a time not only to prophets but to all of His worthy servants whose assignments require such revelation. These facilities, along with other buildings on this campus and the temple on the hill above it, have been constructed in accordance with His plans. The university is on a steady, upward course that will allow it to play a remarkable role in the church and the world."

BYU-Idaho Center facts

Total square feet: 434,859

Total cubic feet: 5 million

Size of roof: 4.8 acres

Pounds of steel: 14 million

Longest steel truss: 258 feet

Auditorium seating: 15,000

Auditorium screens: 34 feet by 19 feet

Auditorium stage: 106 feet wide

Light fixtures: 7,000

Toilets: 212

Total concrete: 25,500 yards (enough to build a sidewalk 6 feet wide and 70 miles long)

Ground was broken Oct. 31, 2006

A full-functioning broadcast center has been developed

A large studio for controlled recordings will provide higher-quality production

The multi-purpose area is large enough for 10 basketball courts

A four-lane jogging track is suspended inside the multi-purpose area

A skybridge connects the BYU-Idaho Center to the John W. Hart Building

Manwaring Center facts

Total square feet: 275,800 (before expansion, 143,000; addition, 132,800; remodeled, 108,400)

Dining capacity of The Crossroads: 1,200

Serving capacity of The Crossroads: 1,000 every 30 minutes

Original dining capacity: 265

Toilets: 98

Design and construction was completed while the building was occupied

Multiple seismic upgrades have been included

e-mail: mholman@desnews.com