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 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 — from Thomas T. Dougherty for $14,000.

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 total annual visitor count to Hawaii was 110,000; but since the opening of the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1963, over 30 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. About 1,200 students are enrolled by this time.

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, and to enlarge the cafeteria and install curbing and sidewalks to the 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 would become Brigham Young University–Hawaii Campus and that Dr. Dan W. Anderson would succeed President Brower as the fifth president of the school.

June 1974
Showcase Hawaii, the University's 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 splitting the Laie Hawaii Stake, naming Eric B. Shumway as the first president of the new BYU–Hawaii Stake for students.

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 sending exchange personnel from there to train at 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 by 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, delivered 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, which is 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 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, which was funded by a private donor.

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

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 honored BYU–Hawaii with ceremonial certificates and proclamations of recognition and congratulations.

April 12, 2005
Alberto Hotus, 75, president of the hereditary council of elders and a 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 was 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 ever for the university.

September 21, 2005
His Excellency Nambar Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia, visited with the 54 Mongolian students at BYU–Hawaii on September 20, answered their questions, listened to their accomplishments and encouraged 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 and performances, pageants, a ball, community parade, speeches, food festivals, and a devotional and regional min-conference addresses by Elder 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 named Harvard Business School professor emeritus Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright as the ninth president of BYU–Hawaii. Dr. Wheelwright succeeded outgoing BYU–Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway, who earlier in the year had been called as temple president in Tonga.

August 24, 2007

President Steven C. Wheelwright announced that BYU–Hawaii has a two-fold student-centered mission: integrate both spiritual and secular learning, and prepare students of character and integrity who can serve their families, communities, professions and Church in building the kingdom of God. Two imperatives flow from these, he said: Continue to improve the quality of the broad educational experience, and significantly lower the cost of that education to the Church.

November 7, 2007

President Henry B, Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, installed Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright as the ninth president of BYU–Hawaii and charged 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 proposed that the President's Council, the university's top administration body, be reorganized from six-to-four direct reports to President Wheelwright, with the changes to be 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; College of Math & Sciences; College of Business, Computing & Government; and College of Human Development.

December 7, 2008

BYU–Hawaii campus Physical Plant reaches the 50 year mark since President David O. McKay stood at the podium in the brand new auditorium, now named in his honor, and dedicated the core facilities of the Church College of Hawaii (renamed in 1974) that the labor missionaries had just completed.

January 25, 2009
The Brigham Young University–Hawaii men's basketball team reaches highest ever ranking in school history 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, developing 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 Lā'ie is about planning a future that protects quality of life and emphasizes the values of the people who live in the Koolau Loa region.

May 12, 2009

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

May 14, 2009

Dr. Glade Tew is appointed the new Dean of the College of Business, Computing and Government by the Board of Trustees for the Church Educational System.

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

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 facilities being utilized year-round, an increase of parents with their children in attendance at orientation, more than 1,250 First Term students are able to continue their studies, and the University is offering more credits in 2009 than in 2008.

September 17, 2009
The BYU–Hawaii Online program is launched. The program utilizes modern technology to significantly reduce the cost of education for students who can now take initial course work in their native country, without the expense of travel, housing, and other costs associated with traditional college living.

October 2009
New academic advisory centers are created to better serve students between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The centers are located in the College of Human Development (SEB 106), Colleges of Language, Culture & Arts and Math & Sciences (MCK 173) and the College of Business, Computing, and Government (GCB 143).

November 5, 2009

The Great Ideas Exchange, planned by and for students, and in cooperation with the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship, is held on campus. The conference has five main objectives for students: think about their future, participate, mingle with the special guests, feel involved, and unify the school in an idea and moment in time.

November 22, 2009
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presides 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 hosted its first CES Fireside with Bishop H. David Burton, presiding Bishop of the Church.   

May 2010
The BYU–Hawaii Concert Choir visited Hong Kong and Taiwan, held five major performances and participated in dozens of cultural exchanges during a two-week tour. 

July 26, 2010
The Eco Friendly award was given to BYU–Hawaii because of its efforts to become more sustainable. The award was presented by InterfaceFLOR and Bill Casey from Facilities Management received it. 

November 21, 2010
The Laie Hawaii Temple was rededicated by President Thomas S. Monson. BYU–Hawaii students volunteered countless hours in preparing for this beautiful occasion. The temple was closed for nearly two years. 

March 19, 2011
The Malaekahana Bike and Pedestrian Path was dedicated after six months of construction by volunteers including 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 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 came up short with a final score of 71-68 on the nationally televised game. 


March 2011
The university’s new Framework for Student Learning is unveiled. The framework is centered on six principles and three practices of Prepare, Engage, and Improve. 

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 forum focused 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 lead to 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 the 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 []. This change addresses Board-directed imperatives to continue to improve quality, lower costs to students and the university, and serve more students.

March 22, 2012
The BYU–Hawaii Undergraduate Research conference is held, allowing students to present work in their fields to peers and advisors. The conference is co-hosted by the College of Math and Sciences, and the College of Language, Culture and Arts.

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. They entered their February 2, 2012, “Dragon Year” themed dinner, inspired by the Chinese New Year, in the competition.

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.

October 18, 2012
The newly renovated McKay Foyer reopens. 

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 the 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 school.

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 to the College of Business, Computing, and Government, and 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.