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Brief History


A brief history of Brigham Young University–Hawaii and related events.

April 6, 1830
Joseph Smith Jr. and five others incorporate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York.

May 11, 1843
Joseph Smith Jr. sends four Latter-day Saint (LDS) missionaries from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands).

May 1, 1844
After almost seven months at sea and one death, the surviving missionaries arrive in Tubuai (now a part of French Polynesia) and decide to remain in that area.

September 25, 1850
LDS Church leaders send 10 missionaries from the California gold fields to the Sandwich Islands Mission.

December 12, 1850
Following a 20-day voyage from San Francisco, the missionaries arrive in Honolulu.

January 26, 1865
The LDS Church purchases the ahupua'a of Laiewai and Laiemalo'o from Thomas T. Dougherty for $14,000, as a gathering place for its members. The plantation covers over 6,000 acres, more than a thousand head of livestock, a large frame house and five Hawaiian hale.

October 1865
One of the missionary wives establishes the first two schools in Laie.

October 16, 1875
The Church organizes Brigham Young Academy at Provo, Utah. It eventually becomes Brigham Young University.

June 1, 1915

President Joseph F. "Iosepa" Smith, who served several missions in Hawaii, dedicates the Hawaii Temple site in Laie.

November 27, 1919
President Heber J. Grant Dedicates the Hawaii LDS Temple on Thanksgiving Day.

February 7, 1921
On an around-the-world inspection tour of LDS missions, Elder's David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon attend a flag-raising in Laie; McKay envisions a school to make Laie the Church's spiritual and educational center in the Pacific.

April 9, 1951

David O. McKay becomes president of the LDS Church and almost immediately starts preliminary work to establish the university in Laie that he foresaw in 1921.

July 21, 1954
The First Presidency announces the establishment of a college in Hawaii.

February 12, 1955

President David O. McKay breaks ground for the University and offers a far-reaching glimpse of the school's impact: "We dedicate our actions in this service unto thee and unto thy glory and to the salvation of the children of men, that this college, and the temple, and the town of Laie may become a missionary factor, influencing not thousands, not tens of thousands, but millions of people who will come seeking to know what this town and its significance are." At the time, the annual visitor count for the entire state of Hawaii was only 110,000, but since the opening of the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1963, over 37 million people have visited Laie.

September 1, 1955
The LDS Church begins a labor missionary program throughout the Pacific Islands, building hundreds of chapels, schools, and the New Zealand Temple.

September 26, 1955

The two-year Church College of Hawaii classes begin in war surplus buildings with 153 students and 20 faculty/administrators. Dr. Reuben D. Law becomes the first president of CCH.

December 1955

LDS labor missionaries begin work on the permanent campus of CCH.

January 1956
Frank Condie coaches the men's basketball team in its first game against Waimanalo Riding Academy.

June 1, 1956
Ten students graduate with associate degrees during CCH's first commencement in the Laie Ward Chapel.

December 17, 1958
President David O. McKay dedicates the first permanent buildings on CCH campus, completed at a cost of approximately $4 million and 280,000 donated hours by the labor missionaries. By this time, about 1,200 students are enrolled.

March 1959

CCH organizes the Polynesian Institute to promote the study of Polynesian culture with Jerry K. Loveland as chair.

August 21, 1959
Hawaii becomes the 50th state.

August 1959
The Board of Education appoints Dr. Richard T. Wootton as the second president of CCH.

January 1960
Labor missionaries begin work on CCH "Construction Project Number Two" to add four dormitories, tennis courts, and faculty homes, enlarge the cafeteria, and install curbing and sidewalks around campus.

March 1960

The CCH student cast of The Polynesian Panorama, a forerunner to the Polynesian Cultural Center, performs at the Kaiser Dome in Waikiki.

February 23, 1961
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges grants full four-year accreditation to CCH.

June 3, 1961

Church College of Hawaii awards its first bachelors degrees to 76 graduates.

Early 1962
Labor missionaries begin construction on the Polynesian Cultural Center.

February 19, 1963
CCH President Richard T. Wootton presents the first annual David O. McKay lecture.

October 12, 1963
With over 1,000 people in attendance, President Hugh B. Brown of the LDS Church's First Presidency dedicates the Polynesian Cultural Center.

August 2, 1964

Dr. Owen J. Cook arrives on campus as the third president of CCH.

October 1964
PCC attendance in its first year of operation reaches 175,000.

January 1968
The Los Angeles Rugby Union declares the CCH Rugby Team as the number one ranked team in the nation.

February 17, 1969
The Asia-Pacific Language Training Mission opens on campus to teach outbound missionaries Asian and Polynesian languages.

May 15, 1969
CCH awards its first Honorary Doctorate degree to Edward L. Clissold for his valuable contributions to the Church in Hawaii and Japan.

February 11, 1972
Dr. Stephen L. Brower is inaugurated as the fourth president of CCH.

January 26, 1973

Elder Marion G. Romney dedicates the Aloha Center and states that CCH is a "living laboratory" for developing appreciation, tolerance, and esteem for one another.

April 13, 1974
President Spencer W. Kimball of the LDS Church publicly announces that CCH will become Brigham Young University–Hawaii, and that Dr. Dan W. Anderson will succeed President Brower as the fifth president of the school.

June 1974
Showcase Hawaii, a university performing group, makes its first tour of Asia.

February 13, 1976
President Spencer W. Kimball breaks ground for the new Ralph E. Woolley Library at BYU–Hawaii.

October 20, 1976
BYU–Hawaii presents an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree to King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga.

January 23, 1977

Elder Marvin J. Ashton presides over the splitting of the Laie Hawaii Stake, naming Eric B. Shumway as the first president of the new BYU–Hawaii student stake.

March 19, 1980
BYU–Hawaii marks its 25th anniversary and stages the first Na Makua Mahalo Ia (The Venerable Ones) concert, chaired by Dr. Ishmael Stagner.

June 4, 1980

The Polynesian Cultural Center hosts People's Republic of China Vice-Premier Geng Biao and begins a lasting relationship with mainland China. Early discussions focus on helping develop a cultural center in China and bringing exchange personnel to train at the PCC.

August 1, 1980
Dr. J. Elliot Cameron succeeds Dr. Andersen as the university's sixth president.

September 1981
The University admits six students from the People's Republic of China.

January 7, 1984

Premier Zhao Ziyang of the People's Republic of China makes a visit to BYU–Hawaii and the PCC.

July 1, 1986

Dr. Alton L. Wade becomes the seventh president of BYU–Hawaii.

June 1988

Dr. Patrick Dalton and Wylie Swapp, the last of the original CCH faculty, retire.

June 15, 1988
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs in Laie en route to Australia and New Zealand.

September 1991

Peterson's Guide rates BYU–Hawaii among the top 10 universities in the U.S. for a low-cost, fully-accredited education.

October 5, 1992
V. Napua Baker becomes Vice President of University Advancement, the first female university vice president in the Church Educational System.

November 1994
Church President Howard W. Hunter installs Eric B. Shumway as eighth president of BYU–Hawaii.

February 12, 1998

BYU–Hawaii launches the Center for Hawaiian Language and Cultural Studies program, with William K. Wallace III as director.

January 11, 2001
BYU–Hawaii President Eric Shumway launches the Keith and Carol Jenkins Matching Fund as part of the goal to raise $20 million in endowed scholarship funds before the university's golden anniversary in 2005.

February 8, 2001
With the arrival of seven huge hardwood logs from Fiji, master carvers Tuione Pulotu and Kawika Eskaran begin to shape BYU–Hawaii's 57-foot traditional double-hulled Hawaiian sailing canoe that will eventually be used as a floating classroom in the university's Hawaiian Studies program.

November 3, 2001
Several thousand people throng Hukilau Beach for the Polynesian ceremonial protocol, blessing and launching of BYU–Hawaii's voyaging canoe, Iosepa. Elder M. Russell Ballard of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a descendant of Joseph F. Smith, delivers the blessing.

November 15, 2002

BYU–Hawaii launches its first Asia-Pacific Basketball Tournament with teams from Japan, China and the Fiji national team.

April 25, 2003
The Polynesian Cultural Center, celebrating its 40th anniversary throughout the year, welcomes its 30-millionth visitor.

May 12, 2003

The BYU–Hawaii men's and women's tennis teams, under coach Dr. David Porter, become the first university joint teams to win two consecutive NCAA Division II national tennis titles.

May 16, 2003

Elder Henry B. Eyring informs the BYU–Hawaii administration that the university now reports directly to the Board of Trustees, instead of to BYU in Provo.

October 25, 2003

President Hinckley joins HRI President & CEO R. Eric Beaver in the groundbreaking for the $5 million-plus project that will beautify Hale La'a Boulevard. The project also includes a new front entrance for Brigham Young University–Hawaii, funded by a private donor.

May 21, 2004
The BYU-Hawaii Concert Choir, starting its tour in Japan and South Korea, becomes the first Christian group ever permitted to perform in Tokyo's Meiji Shrine. The performance continues to build on the longstanding, positive relationship between the Shinto religion and the Church.

June 19, 2004
BYU–Hawaii honors its largest and most international graduating class, with 400 students representing 37 countries.

December 2, 2004
The College of Arts and Sciences hosts BYU-Hawaii's first annual Undergraduate Research Conference and Journal of Undergraduate Research.

January 2005
BYU–Hawaii begins a year-long Golden Jubilee celebration of its 50th anniversary.

February 24, 2005

In conjunction with BYU–Hawaii's Golden Jubilee Anniversary, the City and County of Honolulu, Mayor Mufi Hannemann, and the Hawaii State Senate and House of Representatives all honor BYU–Hawaii with ceremonial certificates, recognition, and congratulations.

April 12, 2005
Alberto Hotus, 75, president of the hereditary council of elders and former mayor of Rapa Nui, visits BYU–Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

May 23, 2005
BYU–Hawaii women's tennis team head coach Dr. David Porter is named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year.

August 19, 2005

The 2006 U.S. News' "America's Best Colleges" Brigham Young University–Hawaii is listed as the fourth "best comprehensive college-bachelor's" in the Western United States. This latest ranking is the highest yet for the university.

September 20, 2005
His Excellency Nambar Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia, visits with the 54 Mongolian students at BYU–Hawaii. President Enkhbayar answers their questions, listens to their accomplishments, and encourags them to help provide similar educational opportunities for others by creating jobs when they return home.

October 16-23 , 2005
Thousands of visitors and alumni help BYU–Hawaii celebrate its first 50 years through a week-long series of conferences, concerts, special programs, performances, pageants, a ball, a community parade, speeches, food festivals, and devotional and regional conference addresses by President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

June 5, 2007
Latter-day Saint President Gordon B. Hinckley names Harvard Business School professor emeritus Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright as the ninth president of BYU–Hawaii. Dr. Wheelwright succeeds  President Eric B. Shumway, who was called as temple president in Tonga.

August 24, 2007

President Steven C. Wheelwright makes an announcement clarifying BYU–Hawaii's two-fold, student-centered mission: "To integrate both spiritual and secular learning, and to prepare students with character and integrity who can provide leadership in their families, their communities,their chosen fields, and in building the kingdom of God." This mission further translates into two immediate imperatives: to continue to improve the quality of students' educational experience, and to significantly lower the cost of that education to the Church.

November 7, 2007

President Henry B, Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, installs Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright as the ninth president of BYU–Hawaii and charges him to "lead the university to new heights of service, achievement and recognition as a unique institution."

April 10, 2008
The BYU–Hawaii Organization Design Team proposes that the President's Council (the university's top administrative body) be reorganized from six members to four, effective in June.

November 6, 2008

The Church Educational System Board of Trustees approves Brigham Young University–Hawaii President's Council's recommendation to reorganize the school's previous academic divisions into the College of Language, Culture & Arts, the College of Math & Sciences, the College of Business, Computing & Government, and the College of Human Development.

December 17, 2008

BYU–Hawaii campus celbrates the 50 year anniversary of President David O. McKay's dedication of the core facilities of the Church College of Hawaii.

January 25, 2009
The Brigham Young University–Hawaii men's basketball team achieves its highest ranking in Division II play, climbing to number four in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

March 11, 2009

The first annual International Institute for Professional Protocol is held at BYU–Hawaii. Sponsored by the Hal and Barbara Jones Foundation, long time university supporters, IIPP educates participants about the professional code of behavior, job-seeking skills, and other qualities that help participants stand out in the interview process and the work place.

April 4, 2009
BYU–Hawaii alumnus Elder Yoon Hwan Choi (1988, Business Information Management) is sustained to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy during the 179th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Choi previously served in the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy in the Asia North Area.

April 28, 2009
Community-wide Envision Laie workshops are held at the Cannon Activities Center.  Envision Laie is a proposed development plan for improving quality of life conditions in Laie.

May 12, 2009

BYU–Hawaii's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) finishes top 12 in the annual SIFE National Exposition.

July 27, 2009
BYU–Hawaii's new international student financial aid program, International Work Opportunity Return-ability Kuleana (I-WORK), is launched. All current BYU–Hawaii international students and new international applicants can apply. The program now includes a 50 percent grant and a 50 percent forgivable loan andhelps cover housing and insurance for married students.

July 27, 2009
The inaugural First Term begins at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, introducing the first full school year under the new academic calendar. Benefits of the new calendar include year-round facility usage, an increase of parents in attendance at orientation, and more credits offered per year.

September 17, 2009
The BYU–Hawaii Online program is launched. The program aims to significantly reduce the cost of education for students who can now take initial course work in their native countries without the expense of travel, housing, etc.

October 2009
New academic advisory centers are created to better serve students.

November 5, 2009

The Great Ideas Exchange, planned by students in cooperation with the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship, is held on campus. The conference gives students the opportunity to share innovative ideas and receive feedback from peers and mentors.

November 22, 2009
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles comes to BYU-Hawaii to preside over the Hawaii Regional Conference held at the Cannon Activities Center. President Thomas S. Monson speaks via satellite. Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Scott D. Whiting of the North America West Area Seventy, Brother David M. McConkie of the Sunday School General Presidency and his wife, Sister JoAnne McConkie, also speak.

January 6, 2010

The newly redesigned BYU–Hawaii website is launched.

May 2, 2010
BYU–Hawaii hosts its first CES Fireside. The speaker is Bishop H. David Burton, presiding Bishop of the Church.   

May 2010
The BYU–Hawaii Concert Choir visits Hong Kong and Taiwan, giving five major performances and participating in dozens of cultural exchanges during the two-week tour. 

July 26, 2010
The Eco Friendly award is presented to BYU–Hawaii by InterfaceFLOR because of the university's efforts to become more sustainable. 

November 21, 2010
The Laie Hawaii Temple is rededicated by President Thomas S. Monson. BYU–Hawaii students volunteer countless hours in preparing for celebrations and performances. The temple had been closed for renovation for nearly two years. 

March 19, 2011
The Malaekahana Bike and Pedestrian Path is dedicated after six months of construction by volunteers, including many BYU–Hawaii students and community members. The path connects the two communities of Laie and Kahuku and provides a safe route for runners and bikers to commute.  

March 2011
The university’s new Framework for Student Learning is unveiled. The framework involves six principles to help students prepare, engage, and improve in their learning experiences.

March 26, 2011
BYU–Hawaii men’s basketball team plays in the NCAA Division II National Championship game against Bellarmine College from Louisville, Kentucky. The Seasiders come up short with a final score of 71-68 in the nationally televised game. 

April 2011
The first Give and Take takes place in the Aloha Center, allowing students to donate items for other students free of charge. A permanent facility is established at the back of campus. 

April 26, 2011
A Graphic Design track is added to the university curriculum offerings.

June 2, 2011
Alumni Relations and Career Services launches the Professional Mentorship Program to help students become leaders in their communities and countries.

September 2011
BYU–Hawaii’s Career Connect expands to the international target area by taking students to 14 different companies in the Philippines.

September 22, 2011
His Highness, Tui Atua Tamasese Tupua Efi, Head of State of Samoa, visits campus and expresses respect and admiration for those of the LDS faith and the generous contributions of service and humanitarianism they have administered to the Samoan community.

November 10, 2011
Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, visits campus. His presents a forum focusing on the importance of education.

November 14, 2011
Lord Tu’ivakano, Prime Minister of Tonga, visits campus and challenges students to keep working hard and join the efforts of change and innovation that he believes will strengthen Tonga.

December 9, 2011
The Pre-campus Online Orientation video series is launched to serve the needs of incoming students. There are 21 videos from different departments on campus.

December 17, 2011
Elder Jeffery R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presides over the groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of construction at BYU–Hawaii. The groundbreaking is held where the 41,000-square-foot Heber J. Grant building will stand.

December 2011
McKay Foyer is closed for renovations. Offices and a classroom will be added to the wings of the foyer, with the main area still used as a visitors’ center for guests. 

January 2012
BYU–Hawaii makes U.S. News lists for best colleges and least expensive private colleges and universities.

March 8-11, 2012
BYU–Hawaii’s Shaka Steel and Brass Ensemble travel to Kauai to spread joy and the spirit of Aloha through the authentic sounds of steel drums and the contemporary arrangements of the Brass Ensemble.

March 9, 2012
Nine Semesters in Residence program and policies are outlined with information sessions and a new website [academics.byuh.edu/9SIR]. This change addresses Board-directed imperatives to continue to improve quality, lower costs to students and the university, and serve more students.

April 16, 2012

Mustapha El-Akkari becomes the first non-LDS student elected as Student Body President of BYU–Hawaii. 

April 23, 2012
The first Summer semester begins, replacing the Spring, Summer and First Terms. This change supports Nine Semesters in Residence.

May 18, 2012
BYU–Hawaii Food Services wins the 2012 Loyal E. Horton Dining Gold Award for the third time. Their winning entry is their February 2, 2012, “Dragon Year” themed dinner, inspired by the Chinese New Year.

May 19, 2012
The top-ranked Brigham Young University–Hawaii’s women’s tennis team takes second place in the national championship against Armstrong Atlantic State.

May 24, 2012
BYU–Hawaii's Students In Free Enterprise was recognized as the second runner up at the SIFE 2012 National Expo held in Kansas City, Missouri.

September 17, 2012
Members of the Executive Committee visit campus. They participate in student presentations, tour campus expansion projects, review the university’s ten-year (2008-2018) accreditation, and discuss current and upcoming innovations in online education.

September 26, 2012
BYU–Hawaii Tennis Coach David Porter receives the United States Professional Tennis Association’s (USPTA) Alex Gordon Award for the Professional of the Year. Porter has been head tennis coach at BYU–Hawaii for 20 years. 

October 4, 2012
The BYU–Hawaii Student Chapter of the BYU Management Society receives the Dean’s Gold Chapter of Excellence Award for the second year in a row. The Society has 92 chapters around the world.

October 18, 2012
The newly renovated McKay Foyer reopens and becomes home to the newly-established David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding, BYU-Hawaii's peacebuilding program.

November 29-December 1, 2012
Fifth-ranked BYU–Hawaii women’s volleyball hosts seven other contenders in the West Regional of the 2012 NCAA Division II National Tournament.

January 2013
The Fine Arts Department splits into two separate departments, Visual Arts and Music and Theatre.

May 2013
BYU–Hawaii Food Services wins the Loyal E. Horton Gold Award for the fourth time with their entry “Matariki Festival of Aotearoa.”

May 22, 2013
BYU–Hawaii Enactus (formerly SIFE) team earns first runner up at the National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri. 

June 10-24, 2013
The BYU–Hawaii Concert Choir tours through New Zealand and Queensland, Australia, performing to energetic audiences during a two-week excursion titled “Music of the Islands.” 

June-August 2013
Seven students from BYU–Hawaii studying Psychology and Social Work help the Fiji Ministry of Education to develop reading and mathematic standardized tests to be used for diagnostic purposes in Fijian schools.

September 8, 2013
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicates BYU–Hawaii’s new Heber J. Grant Building, which serves as the home of the College of Business, Computing, and Government, and hosts the Laie Hawaii Young Single Adult Second Stake. On the same visit to campus, Elder Nelson originates the worldwide CES Devotional from the Cannon Activities Center, counseling young adults to remember that as youth of the noble birthright, their choices have eternal consequences.

October 2013
PCC celebrates its 50th anniversary with a year-long celebration to commemorate its October 12, 1963, dedication. Over 3,000 alumni from all over the world come to participate in the festivities from September 1-8, 2013.

October 11, 2013
Emmy-award winning television host and producer, successful entrepreneur, fashion icon, and bestselling author (and BYU­–Hawaii alumnus) Yue Sai Kan visits campus and encourages students to actively pursue their goals.

 October 11, 2013
The Hōkūleʻa, Hawaii’s most famous double-hulled voyaging canoe, visits Laie at Hukilau Beach as part of the preparation for the canoe’s 2013-2017 tour around the world. After a welcoming ceremony at the beach, the crew is received at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

 December 13, 2013
Seasider Women’s Volleyball team reaches the NCAA Division II National Championship match against Concordia-St. Paul and ends the season with a 29-2 record. 

February 9, 2014
Elder Aley K. Auna Jr. of the Seventy dedicates BYU–Hawaii’s new residential buildings: Hales 7, 8, 9, 10, and TVA buildings X and Z. 

March 12-16, 2014
The BYU–Hawaii Salsa Band and Brass Ensemble travel to the islands of Lanai, Maui and Molokai for a five-day tour packed with five major performances, firesides, workshops, and service. 

March 28, 2014
BYU–Hawaii announces that it will transition out of all intercollegiate athletics following the 2016-2017 seasons. The decision is made after many years of deliberation and with a goal of providing educational opportunities to a greater numbers of students.

May 20, 2014
Norman S. Black replaces Michael B. Bliss as Vice President of Administration. 

September 2014
BYU­–Hawaii moves up to #16 in US News and World Report’s 2015 Best Colleges rankings (west region). Institutions in this category focus on undergraduate education and grant fewer than half of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines. 

September 2014
Pacific Studies, an academic journal published through the Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Studies at BYU–Hawaii, receives 1,063,382 page views through BYU’s (Provo) electronic ScholarsArchive. The journal becomes the first in BYU’s collection to pass one million views in a three-month period of time. 

September 2014
BYU–Hawaii announces a new academic calendar based on three 14-week semesters: Fall, Winter, and Spring. The new calendar replaces the previous schedule of two semesters and two summer sessions. 

February 6-12, 2015
Spirit Week 2015 marks the beginning of a yearlong celebration of 60 years since BYU–Hawaii started in 1955, counting from the February 12, 1955, groundbreaking. 

March 11, 2015
Seasiders Men’s Basketball team wins the PacWest conference in Portland, Oregon, and earns an invitation to the NCAA tournament. 

April 16, 2015
The BYU–Hawaii student Enactus team is named the 2015 Enactus United States National Champion at the annual competition in St. Louis, Missouri. The team’s winning projects seek to empower residents of the Ivory Coast through micro-financing, working on improved agricultural techniques using beekeeping, and engaging women entrepreneurs. 

May 12, 2015
The CES Executive Committee tours BYU–Hawaii as part of their regular on-site visit schedule. At a special campus Devotional, Elder Russel M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announces that John S. Tanner will succeed Steven C. Wheelwright as president of BYU–Hawaii, effective in July 2015. Later the same week, the Wheelwrights were announced as president and matron of the Boston Massachusetts temple, effective in November 2015.