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
Norman S. Black
Debbie Hippolite Wright

President John S. Tanner

President John S. Tanner become BYU–Hawaii’s 10th president in late July 2015. President Tanner has many years of distinguished Church and academic leadership experience. His prior Church service includes serving in the Sunday School general presidency (2014-2015) and as president of the Brazil São Paulo South Mission (2011-2014). Before serving as mission president, President Tanner was Academic Vice President of Brigham Young University (Provo) from 2004-2011.

Throughout his career, President Tanner has been noted for his great efforts to improve students’ quality of learning. As an Associate Academic Vice President and then Academic Vice President at BYU, he developed the Freshman Academy program to guide incoming students, revised the university’s general education requirements and wrote BYU’s Educational AIMS (Spiritually Strengthening, Intellectually Enlarging, Character Building, Lifelong Learning and Service). More recently, as a member of the Sunday School general presidency, he has traveled throughout the world to assist in the implementation of the new youth Sunday School curriculum, which focuses on a model of learning through questions and active participation. The new curriculum is designed to be adaptable in order to meet the learner’s needs and deepen testimony and conversion. He has been actively involved in preparing similar curriculum for adult classes.

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 and served as chair of the English Department at BYU.

President Tanner sits at the helm at BYU–Hawaii with his wife, Susan W. Tanner, former Young Women general president of the Church (2002-2008), and the encouragement of their five children. “I am inspired by the vision that prophets have had for BYU–Hawaii,” Tanner said. “I intend to build on that wonderful legacy of aloha and learning and service that exists here to bless the international Church.”

Send a message to President Tanner
Visit the President's Page

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.


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 Outstanding Honor 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.

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. 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 Services, Health Center, Food and Retail Services, Recruiting and International Student Services, Office of Honor, and Student Leadership, Activities, and Service.