Chad and Cynthia Compton will be retiring from teaching at BYU-Hawaii to take care of her mother and be able to attend family milestones they’ve missed, said Chad. During the 25 years they’ve been here, Cynthia said they’ve only been to two family weddings.
Supporting her parents is the primary reason, said Chad, but they are also looking forward to getting back to all the baptisms, weddings, and other important family events they’ve missed.
In regards to the timing and reasons behind retiring, Chad, a professor of International Cultural Studies, said, “We’ve been away from family for 35 years, and we never wanted to be. On two occasions we intended to leave, but we had that stupor of thought telling us that heaven had other plans for us. We stayed, but now [Cynthia’s] parents are a little older, and it would be nice to be there to support them.
“We didn’t get a block this time, no stupor when we thought of leaving. Though we are very uncertain about where we should be and what we should be doing to help, other than family and her parents.”
Before working at BYUH, Chad was teaching at Loyola Marymount University and Cynthia at Pierce Junior College in California. Due to a goal of applying to five universities a year, he applied to BYUH one year because he needed a fifth place but didn’t intend on going.
After being contacted and turning down multiple offers to be interviewed, Chad said he finally agreed to come for an interview. He said, “It wasn’t very long after being on campus and getting caught up in the intercultural communication part of things...that we said, ‘Well this is more interesting than we thought.’ We were young and still in a mode of adventuring and seeing the world.” They arrived in September 1992.
Dixie Johnson, an ICS senior from California, has taken classes from both Comptons. She said, “He is an amazing professor. His mind is fascinating. I didn’t actually have to take COMM 360 because it isn’t required, but I loved ICS 151 so much that I decided to take it as an elective. I’m so sad he’s leaving because he makes you think in ways you’ve never thought about thinking... I would say I was close-minded before taking class with him, but now I’m open minded.”
Johnson said she decided to take Cynthia Compton’s GE 100 class because someone told her she was an amazing teacher. She said, “She gave me constructive and fair feedback on work. She helped me a lot with my feelings about feminism and being in a church that is so patriarchal. I would often meet with her one-on-one... The biggest impact she’s left on me is how to push for change in a kind way.”
Tevita Ka‘ili, department chair of ICS, said he has worked with Chad Compton for the last 12 years. He said, “He’s a thinker; a true academic. His mind is always thinking. Our offices are right next to each other. We often have conversations about important topics like artificial intelligence and the Internet revolution. Our conversations are very interesting, thought-provoking, and stimulating. His most admired trait is the ability to communicate things clearly. He is a master teacher.”
Richard McBride, department chair of History, said, “[Cynthia’s] work ethic is orientated around her deep love for students. She is passionate about student learning. I’ve seen her spend tons of time with students helping them develop intellectual and spiritual growth. She possesses a true Christlike love. She’s this hope. She sought for the best for all the students she worked with. There’s this compassion and tough love as well.”
Another achievement Cynthia Compton made was creating an edible garden to build bridges between the university and Laie Elementary School. “We worked on creating a learning garden to help develop and magnify different ways of learning for the students and to make it more integrative. That was life-changing for sure. Working with those amazing ladies and working with the students. That was such an amazing experience. It gave me a profound love for the children here and their families.”
In addition to teaching, Chad Compton also worked in administration as the associate dean in the college of arts and sciences and later as the associate academic vice president.
Chad said he, along with Professor Jeffrey Belnap and Professor Phillip McArthur, got together and created a new program called “International Cultural Studies.” He said, “That was a rich integration of humanities, anthropology, and communications. It was fun to build that program and a major that I think made a lot of contributions to campus.”
He also was a big part in creating the Learning Framework. He said a team of 13 faculty and five students over a 12-month period worked together “trying to enhance the academic culture at BYUH so the learning became more transformative, deeper, and more meaningful so there was less skating across the surface to just get the grade. I continue to see the promise of transforming our culture of academics so it’s more active and less passive for the students in the classroom.” All-in-all, Chad Compton said the classroom is vastly more rewarding than administrative work.
He said, “I’ve seen students who came with such low levels of language proficiency and very low levels of skill in academic study, but I have seen them determined and willing to really work hard. And though they may have gotten a C- in a class from me, a year later they were getting A’s. That is by far the most rewarding work I’ve ever done on this campus - to be able to support a student who is determined to succeed and help them accomplish.”
NOTE: This story's online publishing was delayed because it was featured in the June 2017 print issue.