Shumway Named President of Tongan Temple
Mike Foley | University Advancement | 11 February 2007
BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway, Carolyn M. Shumway have been called to serve as president and matron of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple in fall 2007.
BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway announced to his President's Council on February 2 that the First Presidency recently called him and his wife, Carolyn Merrill Shumway, to serve as president and matron, respectively, of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple, starting in fall 2007.
President Shumway, who also serves as Area Seventy for Hawaii and California as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy, stressed that the First Presidency has not yet selected his successor as president of BYU-Hawaii.
"I don't know who that is at the moment, but I believe the Lord has prepared someone to lead BYU-Hawaii, and I intend to make my next five months or more here a catapult to a new level of performance," he said.
As news of President Shumway's eventual departure spread, those who know him well see the wisdom of his latest call to serve in the Kingdom of Tonga. Starting from his first experiences as a missionary there from 1959-62, President Shumway has been widely recognized for his exceptional fluency and oratorical skills in the Tongan language. While still a young missionary, he was given and currently holds the Tongan chiefly title Faivaola. In the 1960s his work with U.S. Peace Corps volunteers to Tonga resulted in the publication of Intensive Course in Tongan.
More recently President Shumway, accompanied by his wife and family, served as mission president in Tonga from 1986-89. He since published Tongan Saints: A Legacy of Faith, and he often inserts Tongan proverbs and allusions into his speeches.
Before leaving campus, he said he has a full schedule of projects he plans to complete, including Tukufonua, the third in a trilogy of video documentaries on Tongan culture he agreed to do at the request of the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.
Originally from the small community of St. Johns in northeastern Arizona, President Shumway attended BYU in Provo on a basketball scholarship before his first mission. After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees at the Y (he earned his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia in 1973), he began teaching English literature and language at Church College of Hawaii in 1966, and has been associated with the university, local church and community ever since.
For example, he served as Academic Vice President from 1980-86 and again from 1990-94, at which time he was inaugurated as the eighth president of BYU-Hawaii. Before assuming his present position, he also served briefly as interim president of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
In the local church and community, President Shumway served as bishop of the Hauula 2nd Ward, and as the first president of the BYU-Hawaii student stake (now the 1st Stake). He also served as president of the Laie Community Association from 1990-91.
Looking back over his more than 40-year career at BYU-Hawaii, President Shumway recently noted a few of the highlights for him include:
* The organization of the first BYU-Hawaii student stake in 1977 which "gave more opportunities for students, particularly international students, to assume leadership and learn the order of the Church," he said in an earlier interview.
* The mid-1980s re-definition of the academic curriculum "in the way that we have it now - a school that focuses on the arts and sciences, with strong professional programs in the School of Business and the School of Education."
* The 2005 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee celebration, during which "the growth and development of BYU-Hawaii toward its prophetic destiny were clearly evident to all of us who were privileged to have been a part of this great institution in years past." President Shumway added he felt the excellence of the Jubilee, "when the Lord poured out His spirit in so much abundance...was His way of saying that He had accepted the sacrifice, the work, the joys, the heartaches of those who pressed forward in building, strengthening, growing and maturing this school over the years. I truly felt that it was the Lord's gratitude and His way of saying thank you to you and me. I say that not to boast, but to say we truly were blessed in a very special way."
"This is a wonderful time to be president of BYU-Hawaii," President Shumway continued. "I have traveled a great deal to all the islands in the Pacific and the nations of Asia from which our students come, and have become deeply involved in their lives; but I believe the Lord has called me to serve again in Tonga. It's an ideal assignment for Carolyn and me."
President Shumway added he will hold a meeting with BYU-Hawaii faculty and staff to discuss his new calling on Monday, February 5, and with the students on Tuesday, February 6.