Brigham Young University–Hawaii

Brigham Young University–Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii) is a private university located in Laie, Hawaii, United States. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

BYU-Hawaii was founded in 1955 and offers programs in mathematics, liberal arts, and management. The university is broadly organized into four colleges, and its parent organization, the Church Educational System (CES), sponsors sister schools in Utah and Idaho. The university's sole focus is on undergraduate education.

Approximately 97 percent of the university's 2,800 students are members of the LDS Church.[4] BYU-Hawaii students are required to follow an honor code, which requires behavior in line with LDS teachings (e.g., academic honesty, adherence to dress and grooming standards, and abstinence from extramarital sex and from the consumption of drugs and alcohol). A BYU-Hawaii education is less expensive than similar private universities since a large portion of tuition is funded by LDS Church tithing funds.[5]

The university partners with the LDS Church-owned Polynesian Cultural Center, the largest living museum in the State of Hawaii, which employs roughly one third of the student body.

Brigham Young University–Hawaii
BYU-Hawaii Medallion Logo
Former names
Church College of Hawaii (1955–1974)
Motto"Enter to learn, go forth to serve"
TypePrivate coeducational
EstablishedSeptember 26, 1955
Religious affiliation
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
PresidentJohn S. Tanner
Academic staff
Students3,176 (2018-19)[1]
Location, ,
United States
CampusRural, 100 acres (40 ha)[2]
NewspaperKe Alaka'i
ColorsCrimson, Gold[3]
BYU-Hawaii sub logo

Coordinates: 21°38′29″N 157°55′31″W / 21.64139°N 157.92528°W


LDS Laie Hawaii Temple front view
The building of the LDS Church's Laie Hawaii Temple was a key predecessor to the establishment of BYU–Hawaii.

The LDS Church was established in the islands in 1850 following the Edict of Toleration promulgated by Kamehameha III, giving the underground Hawai‘i Catholic Church the right to worship, while at the same time allowing other faith traditions to begin establishing themselves. By 1919, the church was prominent enough in the area to build a temple in Laie. Two years after the temple was dedicated then-LDS Church apostle David O. McKay stated the church would build a school in the area in the future. In 1951, McKay, as church president, began preliminary plans on the school, and in 1954 ground was broken for the new institution.[6] Classes began at BYU-Hawaii in September 1955 as the Church College of Hawaii to accommodate the burgeoning LDS population in the Territory of Hawai‘i. This was largely a result of McKay's views on both education and strengthening the church outside of its longtime intermountain west U.S. base. The original class consisted of 153 students and 20 faculty meeting in old World War II buildings, with Reuben D. Law as the school's first president. The school's first buildings were dedicated on December 17, 1958. The college was at first a two-year college but was reorganized in 1959 to become a four-year college. By 1961 the college had been granted four-year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Dormitories, a cafeteria, and other buildings had also been constructed.[6]

LDS elders established the Polynesian Cultural Center in November 1963 as a means of preserving the Pacific cultures that the Latter-day Saints had encountered in their missionary work. In the 1970s, the school was also used to teach LDS missionaries pacific languages and cultures before going out to the islands. The center also provided jobs for students of the college. In 1974, the Church College of Hawaii was elevated to the rank of university by the Church Board of Education and renamed.

The school was governed as a satellite campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah until 2004, when it was announced that the school would report directly to the Commissioner of Church Education. In 2007, Steven C. Wheelwright was appointed the university's president.[6] On May 12, 2015, Russell M. Nelson, chairman of the Executive Committee of the BYU-Hawaii Board of Trustees announced that effective July 27, 2015, John S. Tanner would succeed Wheelwright as president.[7] Tanner becomes the university's 10th president.


BYU-Hawaii is located in Laie on the north shore of Oahu, about 35 miles (56 km) north of Honolulu. The campus covers 100 acres (0.40 km2; 0.16 sq mi) between the mountains and the ocean shore. Dormitories, known as 'Hales', located on the south end of campus are capable of providing room and board for over 1,200 students. The Temple View Apartments provide housing for married students.[8] These apartments are next to the Laie Hawaii Temple which is located directly adjacent to the campus. The school's library is the two-story Joseph F. Smith Library.[9]


Admissions and demographics

LDS students pay less for tuition than non-LDS students. Students who have been on LDS missions and have attended LDS seminary or institute classes are also given particular consideration. However, LDS Church membership is not a requirement for attendance. Students are typically expected to have had at least a B average in high school, and an ACT score of 26 or SAT score of 1130 or above. Non-native English speakers must receive a 61 or higher on the IBT TOEFL (500 on the paper test), a 5.5 on IELTS, or 75+ on the Michigan language test.[10]

BYU-Hawaii has a higher percentage of international students than any other baccalaureate institution in the United States, with 1,039 international students from 70 different countries which comprises approximately 43 percent of total enrollment.[11] Approximately 97% of the student body is LDS.[10]


University rankings
U.S. News & World Report[12] 23

For 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked BYU-Hawaii #23 in the region.[12] The school was also listed as the #1 "best value" in the region in 2006, and was the only Hawaiian school to make a top-tier listing. 2006 marked the eighth such year BYU-Hawaii had been listed as among the top ten in value in the region.[13] In 2004, Consumers Digest listed the school as the #1 best value among private universities in the U.S.[14]


BYU-Hawaii offers 50 bachelor's degree programs, with a 15:1 student/faculty ratio.[15] The school also offers a few unique majors, including Hawaiian Studies, International Business Management, Pacific Islands Studies, and TESOL.[10] The four main academic divisions at BYU-Hawaii include the following:[16]

  • College of Language, Culture & Arts - English, Fine Arts, History, International Cultural Studies (ICS), Hawaiian Studies
  • College of Math and Sciences - Mathematics, Biology, EXS, Psychology, Biochemistry
  • College of Business, Computing & Government - Business, CIS, Political Science, Accounting/Finance
  • College of Human Development - Education, Religious Education, Social Work, TESOL & EIL


BYU-Hawaii formerly competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II as a member of the Pacific West Conference. The "Seasiders" competed in men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross-country, men's and women's golf, softball, men's and women's tennis, volleyball, and men's and women's soccer. Over its history, the school won two women's volleyball and eleven tennis championships (two men's and nine women's, along with one women's NCAA championship). In its early days, BYU-Hawaii also won a National Rugby Championship in 1967, as declared by the Los Angeles Rugby Union.[17] Basketball and volleyball games were held in the George Q. Cannon Activities Center. The campus has several tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, and soccer and softball fields.[18] Most conference home games in volleyball and women's basketball, as well as additional home games in men's basketball, were broadcast live around the world on BYUtv Sports.

On March 28, 2014, the university announced that the athletics program would be phased out over the next three years, with money spent on athletics to be used to provide educational opportunities for an additional 500 students. The transition impacted all eleven (11) intercollegiate teams, including: men’s/women’s basketball, men’s/women’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s/women’s soccer, softball, men’s/women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.[19] Athletics at BYU-Hawaii ended following the spring sports in 2017.

Student life

LDS atmosphere

According to BYU-Hawaii's vision outlined by then-LDS Church president David O. McKay in 1955, the school "exists to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life and in their efforts to influence the establishment of peace internationally."[20]

All students are required to take religion classes as part of their curriculum and to attend Sunday church meeting, both LDS and non-LDS. In addition, class schedules are arranged to allow devotionals to be held weekly for the students to attend. Students from all walks of life are encouraged to learn from and strengthen each other as they all strive to further their education. A variety of clubs and campus organizations are available to participate in.

Honor code

BYUH mahalo
A sign reminds students of the BYU-Hawaii Honor Code standards

All students and faculty, regardless of religion, are required to agree to adhere to an honor code, officially known as the CES Honor Code, but often referred to as the BYU Honor Code. Early forms of the BYU Honor Code are found as far back as the days of the Brigham Young Academy and educator Karl G. Maeser. Maeser created the "Domestic Organization," which was a group of teachers who would visit students at their homes to see that they were following the schools moral rules prohibiting obscenity, profanity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

The Honor Code itself was created in 1940 at BYU and was used mainly for cases of cheating and academic dishonesty. Ernest L. Wilkinson expanded the Honor Code in 1957 to include other school standards. (At this time, Wilkinson, as President of BYU, had some authority over BYU–Hawaii as well.) This led to the Honor Code today: rules regarding chastity, dress, grooming, drugs and alcohol. A signed commitment to live the honor code is part of the application process and must be adhered by all students, faculty, and staff. Students and faculty found in violation of standards are either warned or called to meet with representatives of the Honor Council. In rare cases, students and faculty can be expelled from the school or lose tenure.[21] One significant difference between the versions of the Honor Code used at the main BYU campus and BYU–Hawaii is specific prohibition of the drinking of kava by BYU-Hawaii students and faculty. Kava is a traditional Polynesian drink with some drug-like side-effects.[22]


Alumni of BYU-Hawaii include Medal of Honor recipient George E. Wahlen,[23] delegate to Congress from American Samoa Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin Faleomavaega, Jr. '64,[24] and three-time national volleyball coach of the year Mike Wilton '72.[25]


  1. ^ "Quick Facts 2018-19" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Facts". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Graphic Identity Guidelines" (PDF). Brigham Young University–Hawaii. May 12, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  4. ^ "Quick facts" (PDF). 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  5. ^ Madsen, Grant (2004-05-04). "BYU number two value after BYU-Hawaii, says "Consumers Digest"". BYU News. Archived from the original on 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  6. ^ a b c "Brief History | About BYU-Hawaii". Laie, HI, USA: Brigham Young University—Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
  7. ^ "BYU–Hawaii's Board of Trustees Announces New President", Newsroom, LDS Church, 2013-05-12
  8. ^ "BYU-Hawaii Married Housing". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  9. ^ "Library Map". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  10. ^ a b c "FAQ". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  11. ^ "U.S. Colleges With the Most International Students, 2008-9". The Chronicle of Higher Education. LVI (13): A22. November 20, 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Best Colleges 2020: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "BYU in Hawaii rated as 'best value'". Star Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  14. ^ "BYU–Hawaii". [All Business]. 2005-09-01. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  16. ^ "BYU-H Reorganizes into four academic colleges". BYU–Hawaii. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  17. ^ "BYU-H Sports". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  18. ^ "Athletic Facilities". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  19. ^ Peavler, Lafe (March 28, 2014), "BYU-Hawaii officially announces plan to phase out athletic program in three years", Deseret News, retrieved 2014-04-01
  20. ^ "BYU-H Mission". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  21. ^ Bergera, Gary James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). "Chapter 3: Standards & the Honor Code". Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-34-6. OCLC 12963965.
  22. ^ "BYU-Hawaii Honor Code". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  23. ^ Gary, Wiles et al. The Quiet Hero. American Legacy Historical Press, 2007. ISBN 0-9796896-3-5
  24. ^ "Eni bio". U.S. Congress. Archived from the original on 2008-05-05. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  25. ^ "Mike Wilton". BYU–Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2008-07-02.

External links

Bode Uale

Bode Uale was the first family court judge appointed in the United States who was of Samoan descent. Uale currently serves as the lead judge of the Honolulu Family Court's Domestic Division.He was raised in Laie, Hawaii and graduated in 1979 from Brigham Young University–Hawaii with a degree in political science. He later earned a Juris Doctorate in 1984 from the University of Hawaii. He worked as a public defender from 1984 to 1989 and practiced private law from 1989 to 1991. He was appointed as a family court judge by Chief Justice Herman Lum in 1991. His current assignment is as Lead Judge of the Domestic Division of the Honolulu Family Court. He is also an advisory board member for the “Imi Ho’ola” Minority Admissions Program for the School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. He participates in an innovative family drug court program that helps parents put their families back together.Aside from his position as a judge, Uale served as the president of the Honolulu Hawaii Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Uale and his wife Beth are the parents of four children, most notably Andria Tupola. Beth was recognized as Hawaii mother of the year in 2004.

Chad Ford

Chad Ford is an Assistant Professor at Brigham Young University – Hawaii (BYUH). He is Director of the University's McKay Center and is known for his study of conflict resolution with an emphasis on large group ethnic and religious conflict, as well as for his sports journalism with ESPN.

Chi Hong (Sam) Wong

Chi Hong (Sam) Wong (born 25 May 1962) has been a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) since April 2014. He is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Wong was born in British Hong Kong to Ngan Kan and Fat Wong. His future wife, Carol Lu, introduced him to the LDS Church and he became a member in 1982. In 1983, Wong married Lu and they moved to Oahu, where Wong attended Brigham Young University–Hawaii and obtained degrees in accounting and computer science.

The Wongs then returned to Hong Kong, where he founded a business and quality consulting company. He later received an MBA from the Open University of Hong Kong.

In the LDS Church, Wong has also served as a bishop, stake president and area seventy. He became a general authority during the church's April 2014 general conference. Since August 2014, he has served as a counselor in the presidency of the church's Asia Area.In the October 2014 general conference, Wong delivered a sermon in Cantonese, becoming the first speaker to give a general conference address in a language other than English. Prior to the conference, the LDS Church had announced a new policy of allowing conference speakers to give addresses in their native languages.

Chris Crowe (author)

Christopher Everett Crowe (born in Danville, Illinois) is an American professor of English and English education at Brigham Young University (BYU) specializing in young adult literature. In addition to his academic work, Crowe also writes books for the young-adult market, including Mississippi Trial, 1955.Crowe taught English and coached football and track at McClintock High School in Tempe, Arizona, for ten years. He attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship from 1972 to 1976 and graduated with a B.A. in English. He earned an M.Ed. and an Ed.D. in English education from Arizona State University in 1986.Prior to joining the BYU faculty in 1993 Crowe had been a professor at Himeji Dokkyo University and Brigham Young University Hawaii. In 2007, Crowe was awarded the Karl G. Maeser Excellence in Research and Creative Arts Award from BYU and in 2008 was awarded the Nan Osmond Grass Professorship in English. In November 2010, he received the Ted Hipple Service Award from the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE (ALAN). For the 2016-2017 school year Crowe again received BYU's Karl G. Maeser excellence in teaching award.

Crowe is a Latter-day Saint and serves as a counselor in the Provo Utah Edgemont South Stake presidency.

Eric B. Shumway

Eric B. Shumway (born 1939) was the president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii) from 1994 to 2007. After completing his service as university president, he served as president of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).Shumway was born in Holbrook, Arizona. From 1960 to 1962 he served as a missionary for the LDS Church in Tonga. After his mission, Shumway married Carolyn Merrill, and they are the parents of seven children.

Shumway received bachelors and masters degrees in English from Brigham Young University in 1964 and 1966 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia in 1973. Shumway began his association with BYU-Hawaii in 1966 as an instructor in the English Department.Shumway has served in many leadership positions within the LDS Church. In 1968, Shumway became the first bishop of the church's Hauula 2nd Ward. From 1973 to 1977 he served on the high council of the Laie Hawaii Stake. In 1977, when the first student stake at BYU-Hawaii was organized, Shumway became the stake president. From 1986 to 1989 Shumway served as president of the Tonga Nukuʻalofa Mission. From 2004 to 2007, Shumway served as an area seventy in the church's North America West Area, which included Hawaii and California.Shumway served as Academic Vice President at BYU-Hawaii immediately prior to his appointment as the university's president. Shumway had also served on the board of directors of the Polynesian Cultural Center.During Shumway's tenure as president of BYU-Hawaii, the school focused on increasing the percentage of students from outside the United States. Among other programs, there were scholarships granted where officials of foreign governments were allowed to help determine who received the scholarship. Thailand was among the countries included in this initiative.Shumway edited a book entitled Tongan Saints: Legacy of Faith, a collection of the experiences of various Latter-day Saints in Tonga that was published as part of the celebration of the church's centennial in Tonga.

Fineasi Funaki

Fineasi Funaki (1966 – 13 November 2010) was a Tongan politician and cabinet Minister. He was a member of the Human Rights and Democracy Movement.

Funaki was educated at Tonga College and the Tongan teacher's training college, before studying at Brigham Young University–Hawaii. He was elected People's Representative for Ha'apai at the 2005 election. He was appointed Minister of Tourism in May 2006, and was reappointed after the 2008 election.

Funaki resigned from Cabinet in September 2010 due to ill-health.

George Kanahele

George Huʻeu Sanford Kanahele (1930–2000) was a native Hawaiian activist, historian and author.

Jerold Ottley

Jerold Don Ottley (born April 7, 1934) was the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from 1974 to 1999. His duties with the choir included the preparation and performance of nearly thirteen hundred weekly radio and television broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word. He also led the choir in more than thirty commercial recordings and more than twenty major tours, in addition to regular concerts in the choir's home in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Early in his career, Ottley was a teacher and conductor in the schools and churches of Salt Lake City. Just prior to his appointment with the Tabernacle Choir, he taught on the music faculty at the University of Utah and served as the assistant chair of the music department. Since his retirement, he has been involved in volunteer work for four years as administrator and teacher for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Training School at Temple Square, as a Tabernacle Choir staff volunteer revising the choral library computer database, as artistic advisor to the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, and as bishop of his ward (congregation) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). From 2005 to 2008, he directed the University Chorale, taught music education courses, and assisted in administration at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, an LDS Church-owned university in the town of Laie on Oahu's north shore.

Ottley is married to JoAnn South Ottley, an accomplished soprano who also served as the vocal coach of the Tabernacle Choir for twenty-four years. They are the parents of two children.

Leon R. Hartshorn

Leon R. Hartshorn (January 16, 1929 – August 11, 2015) was a religion professor at Brigham Young University (BYU) and an author of many books. Most of his books were the collections of stories about leaders or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In the LDS Church, Hartshorn has been a bishop and the president of the Missouri St. Louis Mission.

List of Brigham Young University–Hawaii alumni

This list of Brigham Young University Hawaii alumni includes notable graduates, non-graduate former students, and current students of Brigham Young University Hawaii (BYUH).

List of presidents of Brigham Young University

The following people have served as presidents of Brigham Young University and principals of Brigham Young Academy, which split to become Brigham Young University and Brigham Young High School in 1903. This list does not include presidents of Brigham Young University-Hawaii or Brigham Young University–Idaho.

List of presidents of Brigham Young University–Hawaii

The following people have served as presidents of the Church College of Hawaii (1955–74) and Brigham Young University–Hawaii (after 1974). This list does not include presidents of Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) or Brigham Young University–Idaho.

Michael Egan (author)

Michael Egan (born 1941) was Scholar in Residence at Brigham Young University, Hawai’i and Professor of English and Political Science at TransPacific Hawaii College, Honolulu (which closed at the end of 2008). He earned his Ph.D at Cambridge University, where he edited The Cambridge Review and was first Contributing Literary Editor for the Times Higher Education Supplement.

Mike Wilton

Mike Wilton is the former head coach of the Warrior Volleyball team for the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Naomi Kahoilua Wilson

Naomi Kahoilua Wilson (born July 5, 1949) is an American actress known for the only role she ever played, that of "Mahana" in the film Johnny Lingo.

Kahoilua was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, graduating from Hilo High School. She is a Latter-day Saint. While attending the Church College of Hawaii (now Brigham Young University-Hawaii) she acted in the role of "Mahana" in "Johnny Lingo". Since that time she has been identified with that role and has given talks at firesides about this role at least once a year. Also in 1967 Kahoilua was "Miss Church College of Hawaii". An image of her face was also used on Hawaiian Airlines planes.

In 1970 Naomi Kahoilua married (Marion) Brent Wilson. They moved to Spokane, Washington in 1975 where they still resided in March 2010. Wilson is a piano instructor who teaches children prior to entering college and prepares them for board tryouts. Naomi and Brent are the parents of three children.

Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is a Polynesian-themed theme park and living museum located in Laie, on the northern shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and dedicated on October 12, 1963, the PCC occupies 42 acres (17 hectares) owned by nearby Brigham Young University–Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii).

Within eight simulated tropical villages, performers demonstrate various arts and crafts from throughout Polynesia. Visitors may also take a free shuttle tour of the university and see the LDS Church's Laie Hawaii Temple and its associated visitors' center.

Seventy percent of the PCC's approximately 1,300 employees are students at BYU-Hawaii. Since it has opened, the PCC has provided financial assistance to nearly 17,000 young people from more than 70 different countries while they attend BYU-Hawaii. Students may work up to 20 hours per week during school terms and 40 hours during breaks. As a non-profit organization, PCC’s revenue are used for daily operations and to support education.

R. Lanier Britsch

Ralph Lanier Britsch (born 1938) was a history professor at Brigham Young University who specialized in the history of missionary work by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), particularly in the Pacific Islands and Asia.

Reuben D. Law

Reuben Deem Law (March 19, 1903 – April 19, 1981) was the first president of the Church College of Hawaii (CCH), which was later renamed Brigham Young University–Hawaii (BYU–Hawaii).

Steven C. Wheelwright

Steven Charles Wheelwright was the 9th president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii) from 2007 to 2015. Prior to that appointment, he was a professor and senior associate dean at Harvard Business School.

Brigham Young University–Hawaii
Student life


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