President Eyring installs ninth president of BYU-Hawaii
Mike Foley | University Advancement | 07 November 2007
Several thousand students, guests, government and academic leaders, dignitaries and others gathered in the Cannon Activities Center on November 6 to observe President Henry B. Eyring [pictured at left], Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, install Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright as the ninth president of Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
The action completes the transition process begun in March when Latter-day Saint Church President Gordon B. Hinckley selected the retired senior associate dean of the Harvard Business School and former Stanford business professor to succeed BYU-Hawaii president Eric B. Shumway, who retired at the end of the 2007 school year after being associated with the university for 41 years. Dr. Shumway and his wife are now serving as president and matron of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple.
President Eyring, a former business school professor who oversaw President Wheelwright's doctoral studies at Stanford 40 years ago, charged him "to lead the university to new heights of service, achievement and recognition as a unique institution."
He also presented President Wheelwright with a Hawaiian koa wood bowl "which symbolizes nourishment, care, trust and hope. It is given as a gift to you with confidence, that you will meet the sacred trust which has come to you, and that you will offer hope to all who join this family of students, teachers and others who nurture the children of God here."
The new president [pictured at right] replied that President Hinckley's invitation last March "was totally unexpected, but today I accept this most important undertaking, armed with willingness to work and an abiding faith in the Savior and in His divine guidance." He added that when he was Professor Eyring's student at Stanford "neither he nor I imagined that I might one day be in a position such as this."
He also pointed out that two aspects of BYU-Hawaii have impressed him and his wife, Margaret, over the past several months they have been in Laie: "First, BYU-Hawaii's past, that is, its heritage; and second, its future and inspired possibilities."
President Wheelwright said that while it's a great honor "to be here at this time, it comes with great responsibilities. BYU-Hawaii's mission needs to focus these responsibilities along two themes we now pursue: First, we must educate for eternity, integrating the divine with the academic; and second, we must train leaders of character and integrity."
Quoting President Hinckley, President Wheelwright said, "The world needs young men and young women who are not weak but forgiving, not soft but understanding, not arrogant but respectful of the rights and feelings of others, not boastful but thankful for the blessings of the Almighty, not selfish but generous in giving of their abundance to the less fortunate, not drunk with power but humble before God in whom they place their trust. These are the qualities I challenge you to cultivate."
"We accept President Hinckley's challenge," President Wheelwright said, and indicated BYU-Hawaii plans to pursue initiatives that will better prepare future students through:
- online courses taken in their home countries before they arrive on campus;
- better internship and mentoring programs to help students in their career development;
- and a streamlined organization for better efficiency and effectiveness.
President Eyring responded that as he looks back over the years since he was President Wheelwright's teacher, he understands that students, teachers and university presidents "are best seen as members of an ideal family." In such a family, he said, "no one feels above anyone else, where we work hard together to achieve a goal we all care about. We take care of each other, and where the success of another is our own success."
"Success will be realized as young people gain greater power to make the world better for others," President Eyring continued. "Success won't be in accolades for the president or the teachers. It won't be in recognition for the university. It won't be in new and better buildings... Success will be an increase in the power of students to improve families, communities and the world."
Earlier in the program, faculty, student and alumni representatives officially greeted the new president. Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Latter-day Saint with family ties to Laie, also wished his fellow Harvard colleague well. "Part of what makes a great city is having academic institutions that produce great students who go on to serve their respective communities here in Hawaii, throughout the Pacific and Asia, and throughout the world," he said.
Church Educational System Commissioner W. Rolfe Kerr, who was recently given emeritus status as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, also spoke, saying this transition of leadership "is a time to ensure the spiritual development and testimony of every student who attends this institution."
"This is a time to renew the vision of the university," Elder Kerr said, emphasizing that President Wheelwright is the "focal point in the creation of the shared vision of the future."
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle attended a luncheon for President Wheelwright after the inauguration ceremony.
— Photos by Mike Foley: [upper left]: President Henry B. Eyring; [middle right]: President Steven C. Wheelwright; [bottom]: the dais at the inauguration ceremony