After sharing an early-morning breakfast on Aug. 30 outside the Cannon Activities Center, faculty and staff sat with their spouses to listen to President and Sister Tanner share messages alongside Elder Ringwood of the Seventy and his wife. Both couples encouraged those in attendance to lead through example by “lift[ing] and enlighten[ing]” the students.
“The Lord wants a consecrated staff, who puts things on the altar that have to do with their professional lives, their work lives,” said John Tanner, president of BYU-Hawaii. “Rededicating yourselves to keeping your temple covenants. We depend on that as a university. To teach with the Spirit.
“All of us are teachers regardless of our positions. Everyone can be a teacher and influence another life for good. We need to lift and enlighten all who serve here. So, when we invite the students today, we invite you to be here because you are the university. This is our ohana.”
As a new member of the Board of Trustees, Elder Michael T. Ringwood said, “You have the wonderful opportunity to teach these students. More importantly, you have the wonderful privilege to help them come to a knowledge of God and deepen their testimonies and their convictions.
“Perhaps the promise Alma made to Helaman applies to you and your students. He said, ‘If you keep the commandments of God and do these things, which are sacred, according to that which the Lord doth command, behold no power of Earth or Hell can take that from you.’”
Sister Rosalie Ringwood expounded on what President Tanner shared about lifting others. “Everyone needs to be loved, everyone needs to be acknowledged. I believe this is especially important at a university where there are a lot of different needs that need to be met.”
Sister Ringwood stated confidently how it is never too late to learn for ways to love and acknowledge everyone. She shared how her daughter was an example to her husband and herself by never speaking ill of others. Later she shared how raising her children made her “more aware of people around me. It’s made me want to reach out and make everyone feel loved… It is never too late to try and be better.”
Elder Ringwood encouraged the faculty and staff to teach students and others “to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly of heart.”
Elder Ringwood said the example of the staff and faculty would leave a profound effect on those who attend BYUH. He also told them through their actions and the sanctity of the campus, “[students] will find the Savior here and hopefully come to know him. Their experience here will bless the rest of their lives.”
Sister Tanner opened her time by saying this is her favorite time of the year. “I love back to school and I especially love it in Hawaii when we celebrate as an ohana. I feel your spirits and I want you to know John and I really truly love you and we feel part of this family. We pray for you every day in our homes. We are grateful and appreciative of your gifts and good works.
“Our goal ever since John’s inauguration, under his vision, is we want to create a Zion university. We talk a lot about this unity it requires. We need to have our hearts knit together in love and become one heart and one mind.”
She later shared some words from one of her favorite prayers done at the end of a General Conference. She said the words stayed with her as she echoed them to the audience, “My prayer for each of us, [that] our hard hearts would be softened. Our impure hearts would be purified. Our closed hearts would be opened, and our blind hearts would be taught.”
Sister Tanner warned the faculty to be cautious of having too much pride by “never seeking the limelight, but always walking in the light.” Instead, she encouraged them to “seek the Spirit. [It will] soften our hearts and unite us.”
Spencer Taggart, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship, said he was humbled to know the Spirit is the real teacher and will unite him with his fellow ohana. He is looking forward to more opportunities to embrace and learn more about other students and their cultures. “It’s my job to create an environment for true learning.”
Feeling united with a bigger and new ohana, Taggart said he is one of the new professors on campus this year, having arrived in spring 2019. He said he was excited to be reunited with all the staff and students because it felt like home. “It was confirmed by the Spirit that this is exactly where God wants me and my family to be at this time in our lives.”