Faculty and staff gather in annual Ohana meeting to begin a new school year

Faculty and staff gathered on Aug. 31 to kick off the new school year.

To start off the new school year, John S. Tanner, president of BYU-Hawaii, shared with the university’s faculty and staff the message that “all may be edified of all” (D&C 88:122) at the Ohana Meeting on Aug. 31. President Tanner and his wife, Susan Tanner, expressed their desire for students to be able to learn from the faculty and staff, as well as be the ones to educate and bless.

When President Tanner asked, the Laie Temple said that 144 BYUH students were serving during the break. Tanner said, “I am so impressed. I go to the temple and often those who are helping me in ordinances are students.

“I love the imagery and symbolism of the president of the university is being assisted at the temple, in the ordinances of salvation, by students. That represents this thing that ‘all may be edified of all’. Sometimes you take turns teaching, and sometimes you take a turn learning.”

President Tanner also shared a quote from President David O. McKay from the groundbreaking services in 1955, “Let me just remind you of this: When David O. McKay was here, he said, ‘No man or woman should teach in this college who doesn’t have in his or her heart an assurance, not a mere belief, an assurance, that God has had his hand over this entire valley, that dedication offered years ago was inspired, that this land is a choice land. It’s part of Zion’.” He explained that he and Sister Tanner want everyone who works at BYUH to understand the prophetic origin and destiny of our university.

At the Ohana Meeting, Alohilani Housman led the Hiki Mai chant written by Kumu Hula, Cy Bridges. She explained that “hiki mai” means “to come” and is an invitation. Housman said that the faculty and staff have accepted the invitation to come to Laie. In the second line, Housman said the chant talks about climbing the highest mountain. She said, “As we do that physically and spiritually, it brings us closer to our Heavenly Father.” Housman also explained that “ha’a” is a dance move to go down low, “When you reduplicate it, ha’a ha’a, it means humble. So as we come to teach, learn, and serve at the university, we come in humbleness.”

Following the chant was a campus update from President Tanner with statistics about the students. He reported that there were approximately 3,040 students, the highest number the university has ever had. For Fall 2018 enrollment, about 45% are domestic students and 55% are from the university’s target area of the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and East Asia. President Tanner also projected that BYUH will have about 950 I-WORK students in 2019, 50 more than we have this year. He conveyed his hope to continue to develop I-WORK to bless students.

Introduced was Co-Curricular Activities as a part of Student Development and Services. This will allow students to use both curricular and extracurricular activities to further their education. President Tanner explained, “A co-curricular transcript is a powerful way to measure student learning experiences across BYUH.” As an example of co-curricular in school and church, a video of Eritai Kateibwi was shown. Kateibwi is from Kiribati and was the 2017 UN Environment Young Champion of the Earth for Asia & the Pacific. From BYUH’s Sustainable World Action and Technology Team (S.W.A.T.T.), Kateibwi learned hydroponics which he took home to help his community to grow their own nutritional food, despite their lack of fertile land.

Afterward Vice President of Operations Eric W. Conrad provided an update of changes being made to campus. This includes a new science and math building in place of the General Classroom Building (GCB), a new cafeteria that will begin construction in November 2018, a cafeteria plaza, and sports fields by the racquetball courts. For housing, Conrad said three new hales will be built for single students. Conrad announced that after draining and remodeling the pool, it will re-open for full operation on Sept. 7.

Sister Tanner followed Conrad and shared the story of how she learned and relearned the importance of being part of an ohana this summer, “To share gifts, to give to each other, to build, so all may be edified of all.”

To conclude the meeting, President Tanner shared remarks of lessons learned from Hurricane Lane. He said how the gospel can be “a refuge from the storm” (D&C 115:6). Tanner explained that a refuge can be a physical shelter, a politically and morally safe place, and a spiritual concept. He asked how BYUH can be a a place of refuge, so that it can be a place where people can be strengthened. Tanner also said that the gospel can be a rock in the storm, that Christ is the rock and the foundation (Helaman 5:12). From this, he asked how BYUH can help students build on the rock.

President Tanner ended the meeting by advising those in attendance to work in the labor of love, and he reminded them that our university is in a sacred space that has been blessed many times. He encouraged the faculty and staff to improve their talents, “So when the Lord returns, we can receive from him what he says in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. He says to those who fulfill their talents, edify, build, and love, come receive the kingdom.”


Date Published: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Last Edited: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018