Hyrum Manwaring

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Hyrum Manwaring was a professor and college administrator and served as president of Ricks College from 1930 to 1944.

Manwaring was born in 1877 in Granger, Utah, and as a boy of age ten when the crops failed on the family farm, he had to live away from home to work and help provide an income for his family. Three years later, his family moved to Mapleton, Utah, to a more productive farm, but Manwaring still worked instead of attending school. At the age of fifteen, he became a section hand on the railroad. By the age of seventeen, Manwaring met Bessie Bird and she encouraged him to gain an education despite his severe financial hardships. He continued to work for the railroad to take care of the needs of his family, and he saved what he could for a future education and mission. He served as a missionary to Australia from 1899 to 1902 and then married Bessie. Although he lacked an elementary education, he attended Brigham Young Academy and graduated in 1905. He taught at the academy while continuing his education there by taking college-level classes.

When Manwaring graduated, he became the principal of the Uintah Stake Academy in Vernal, Utah, where he worked for two years. He then returned to Provo, Utah, and earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Brigham Young University in 1911. While studying to receive his master’s degree, he taught English at BYU.

In 1914, Manwaring became the head of the English Department at Ricks Academy in Rexburg, Idaho. He built a home in Rexburg for his family of four children, as well as a second home for his brother Walter. He went into farming with three of his brothers. Crop failures in 1918 and 1919 caused Manwaring to lose the farm and the equipment and crippled him financially for many years.

Manwaring left his position at Ricks for one year in 1922 to finish his master’s at BYU. After one more year teaching at Ricks, he moved to Berkeley, California, to pursue his doctorate at the University of California. After one year, he earned his doctorate and returned to Ricks College, but in the summer of 1929, he and Bessie decided to sell everything they owned, give up their home in Rexburg, and go to Washington, D.C., to attend George Washington University. After one year, with each of the family working to save money, Manwaring was called back to Rexburg by the board of education to become acting president of Ricks College. The move back was a sacrifice because they had decided to remain in Washington.

Ricks Academy had become a junior college in 1923. Manwaring had become dean of the College Department and served as the head of the Department of Psychology and Education. In 1931, Manwaring became president of Ricks College and held that position until 1944. He became president during the Great Depression. Most schools owned by the Church were given to the states to administer, but the State of Idaho refused Ricks College. Manwaring helped the school stay open through ten difficult years. During his administration the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges accredited Ricks College.

From 1944 until 1953, Manwaring taught full time at Ricks College. He then taught part time until his death in 1956.

The student center on the campus, now known as BYU-Idaho, is named after Manwaring.

A Short Life History of Hyrum Manwaring