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President's Council


About The President's Council

The BYU–Hawaii President’s Council is charged with determining the strategic direction of the university on all levels: educational, fiscal, spiritual, and physical. Their primary focus is the success of each individual student, and the leadership development of the entire BYU–Hawaii ‘ohana. As the President’s Council works to accomplish the mission of the university, they make decisions to align resources with key priorities. While the President’s Council has specific responsibility over the university, its students, employees and resources, they are also concerned with how the decisions of BYU–Hawaii affect La'ie and the surrounding community.

President John S. Tanner
John D. Bell
Debbie Hippolite Wright
Norman S. Black


President John S. Tanner

John S. Tanner is the 10th president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii. He assumed the presidency in July 2015 after a thirty-year career as a professor and administrator at Brigham Young University in Provo. At BYU, President Tanner served as Academic Vice President, Associate Academic Vice President, English Department Chair, and Professor of English, with an emphasis in English Renaissance and Religious Literature.

Prior to his appointment as BYU­–Hawaii president, President Tanner had been serving in the Sunday School general presidency (2014-2015) and as president of the Brazil São Paulo South Mission (2011-2014) for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Tanner earned his bachelor of arts degree in English from BYU in 1974 and his doctorate in English from University of California, Berkeley, in 1980. He began his teaching career at Florida State University but soon joined the BYU faculty in 1982 as an assistant professor. He also spent time as a Fulbright professor in Brazil.

President Tanner is the author of several books, including an award-winning study of Milton and Kierkegaard, and numerous articles and essays. He has also written a number of hymn texts, including one that appears in the Church’s hymnal.

President Tanner is married to Susan W. Tanner, former Young Women general president of the Church (2002-2008).  They have five children and twenty grandchildren.


John D. Bell

Vice President, Academics

Dr. John D. Bell joined BYU–Hawaii in May 2015. Before coming to BYU–Hawaii, John served as Dean of Undergraduate Education at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah). He earned an undergraduate degree in Zoology from BYU in 1982 and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California (La Jolla, CA) in 1987. John returned to BYU to begin his teaching career in the Department of Zoology in 1990 and has held numerous administrative positions since.

As Vice President of Academics, John’s areas of responsibility include the four academic colleges, three associate academic vice presidents and the Academic Council, Admissions, Alumni and Career Services, Financial Aid, Admissions, and the Library.


Debbie Hippolite Wright

Vice President, Student Development & Services

Dr. Debbie Hippolite Wright is a Maori who hails from the south island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Waikato in 1999. She received her Masters of Social Work from Brigham Young University in 1984 and earned her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in 1979. She has practiced for many years as a social worker and marriage and family therapist in Aotearoa, Hawaii, and the U.S. Mainland. Prior to her current position, she taught at BYU–Hawaii in the Social Work department for 17 years.

Debbie currently serves as the Vice President of Student Development and Services. She has responsibility for the following areas: Counseling & Disability Services, Health Services, Recruiting and International Student Services, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Office of Residential Life, Office of Honor, Office of the Dean of Students, Title IX Office and Student Leadership, Activities, and Service.


Norman S. Black

Vice President, Administration

Norm Black is a retired Officer from the United States Air Force and prior to coming to BYU–Hawaii, he was a Program Manager for a large government contractor.He received his master's degree from Webster University and was the OutstandingHonor Graduate in 1995. He came to BYU–Hawaii in 2011 as the Director of Enterprise Information Systems.

Norm currently serves as Vice President of Administration and has responsibility for the following areas: Budget, Construction, Facilities Management, Finance, Housing, Human Resources, Information Technololgy, Internal Audit,Materials Management, and Security.