10 members of BYU-Hawaii ohana are recognized for their exemplary service

Written by: 
LeeAnn Lambert

Two BYU-Hawaii retirees were selected for two newly named exemplary employee awards for their service at the university, and the first awards in their names were given out on March 16 at the annual employee appreciation dinner and dance. Six exemplary employee awards were given out and four exemplary faculty awards.

Employee Awards

V. Napua Baker was the first-ever woman named as a vice president in all the church universities when she became the vice president for University Advancement at BYUH overseeing university communications, alumni, campus tours, fundraising, and more. After retiring, she served a family history mission and worked in the Laie temple. Sione Feinga was a labor missionary in Tonga and here in Laie building the university and the Polynesian Cultural Center. He was the associate director of BYUH’s physical facilities for many years and was also a local stake president in the church, a patriarch and sealer in the Laie Hawaii Temple.

Kaliki Unga was recognized with the first-ever V. Napua Baker Management Award for his leadership and student mentoring at the Campus Distribution Center. Called a “servant leader” who expresses his appreciation daily for the hard work of his employees and inspires them to learn and grow individually, Unga’s nomination information says he has the ability to work hard alongside his employees, is patient, has a good sense of humor, and emphasizes working in a safe environment.

Unga’s example in the workplace and community, it continues, shows he truly supports the mission of the university, which the BYUH website says is “to integrate both spiritual and secular learning, and to prepare students with character and integrity who can provide leadership in their families, their communities, their chosen fields, and in building the kingdom of God.”

Receiving the first Sione H.M. Feinga Performance Award for fulltime staff was Rusia Mamea from the Travel office. Mamea’s nomination information says she is efficient and fast in her job. She helps arrange travel for students, staff and faculty that fits individual needs but also is cost effective. In addition, in her local church ward, it says, she is in the Primary Presidency and “goes with the boys to all the Boy Scout activities.”

Tawnya Briskin, from the Willes Center, is the first to receive the Sione H.M. Feinga Performance Award for part-time staff, and her nomination information says she is a faithful and hard-working employee who serves the center’s employees and also students. “Thanks to her organizational skills, management of Travel Authorizations and a strong focus to stay within the guideline,” it says, the center has grown from 250 students taking its entrepreneurial courses to 500. While a stickler for following the rules, it says, she “keeps the office fun with her contagious attitude and willingness to try new and exciting things that will help students.”

Three President’s Appreciation Awards were also presented on March 16 – one each to an administrative staff member, a fulltime staff member and a part-time staff member.

Makoa Freitas from Financial Services was recognized in the administrative staff category for his excellent work ethic and leadership in the department. His work is “evidenced by leading his team to successful audit results, and even more important, earning a reputation across campus among his colleagues for consistent, high-quality customer service,” says his nomination information. Furthermore, Freitas was praised for his kindness and fairness.

Acknowledged for her work at Print Services and as the recipient of the President’s Appreciation Award for full-time staff, was Tati Pane’e. Called “one of the best employees on campus,” Pane’e has a talent, knowledge and passion for her work, says her nomination information. “Tati has always given me superior customer service,” it continues. “She will go beyond what I would expect and would suggest ways that I could improve my prints and provide me with options that would make it more cost effective.” A BYUH alumnae, Pane’e knows and loves the mission of the school, it says, and seeks to bless the lives of the students who come here.

The part-time staff member who received the President’s Appreciation Award was Kikiana Hurwitz in the Natural Sciences Department. She was recommended for the award because of her ability to have things prepared and ready to go to meet faculty or students need. Hurwitz goes beyond her job description to keep the labs and stockroom safe, it says, and is the first the check on things during weather-related or other emergencies.  “Kiki is a vibrant part of our department,” it states.

Faculty Awards

From the College of Human Development, a 2017 Exemplary Faculty Award was given to Christian Kunz from the Social Work Department. He worked on the accreditation report and “responded passionately and with practiced insight to the 41 practice behaviors required by the report,” says his nomination information. The Social Work Department finds out in June the final decision about its accreditation. “Christian's insight and writing abilities were key to the success of the report and in answering the visitor’s queries,” it says. “Beyond his department accreditation efforts, Christian has also found solutions in modifying the Social Work curriculum to work with both the new academic calendar and the modular curriculum.”

From the College of Business, Computing and Government, an Exemplary Faculty Award was given to Michael Murdock for his outstanding work, says his nomination information. “He is an ideal department chair for Political Science: supportive, encouraging, helpful, taking care of administrative details (so the other faculty do not have to), ready to accept input, and an inspirational teacher.” Murdock has served as the chair of the Political Science Department for more than six years. “He is a highly-rated professor by the students because of his attention to them and his love for them,” it continues.

From the College of Arts and Humanities, an Exemplary Faculty Award was given to History Department Chairman Rick McBride. “He is dedicated to his family, the Church, this university, his students, and to the pursuit of knowledge,” says his nomination information. “As a teacher, he challenges and pushes his students to achieve at levels they doubt they can attain. He offers them substance and depth, and asks them to think, speak and write about things they never considered or thought possible.” As a scholar … “his work on Buddhism, religion, and history in Asia allows him to connect students to an important cultural region of this university’s mission.” McBride serves on campus and also at church, it says regardless of the demands on his time. “Despite his attention to so many disparate responsibilities, he remains steadfast and reliable as a family man, and a man of the Spirit,” it continues. “This is the true measure of the man.”

From the College of Math and Science, a 2017 Exemplary Faculty Award was given to Dr. Roger Goodwill who has served the university and students for 23 years. Over the last decade, he has “taken a group of students to Saipan over a three-week period during his summer break to conduct research…. Many of our students have told us that this experience provided the edge they needed to land important internships, grad school offers, or jobs in marine sciences. During the rest of the year, he spends long hours working directly with his students in the classroom, lab, and in the field. Roger has also worked tirelessly to support and serve his colleagues at BYUH, serving in just about every committee on campus at least once, and serving as department chair for many, many years. We will sincerely miss Roger as he and his lovely wife, Sonoma, plan to retire to Arizona this summer.”

Date Published: 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017


This story's online publication was delayed because it was going to be featured in the April 2017 print issue.