McKay Center Seeks to Fulfill Prophecy

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Rosemarie Howard | University Advancement | 12 April 2007

“You mark that word, and from this school, I’ll tell you, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally.”

These words spoken by President David O. McKay in the dedicatory address of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Church College of Hawaii, February 12, 1955, have been heard many times since they were spoken.

“Our students hear about it, but to what extent do they know what to do about it?” asked Chad Ford , recently appointed director of the McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding.  “What are the practical applications of this prophecy?”

The David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding was formally organized in 2006, funded by a million dollar endowment, to find answers to those questions.

    “It’s really tied to the main mission of the university, which is providing leaders for the world in the 21st century that will be instrumental in establishing peace,” said Keith Roberts, Vice President of Academics.  ( watch video clip )

“The McKay Center grew out of conversations held in the early 2000’s,” said Jeff Burroughs, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  “The intention was to develop a center for research and practice that would focus on BYU-Hawaii’s mission of creating world peace and understanding.”

In 2004, with firm support from BYU-Hawaii President Eric Shumway, the center was established.  As one of its first activities, the newly establish McKay Center, along with the Institute of World Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the BYU-Provo J. Reuben Clark Law School, co-sponsored a conference themed “Future of Religion in China.”

That was step one.   “Step two,” said Ford, is that we want the McKay Center to actually begin to work on some projects that deliver tools to help resolve conflict.  To assist in this process, a board consisting of:  William Wallace (“Uncle Bill”), Dale Robertson, Chiung Hwang Chen, Rosalind “Rose” Ram, Asai Gilman, Max Purcell, and students: Dustin Bradshaw and Terry Moea’i, was appointed by Dean Jeff Burroughs in October 2006. The board is currently in the process of defining the mission and goals of the Center.

Currently, Ford and his team are working with BYU-Hawaii 2nd Stake (married student stake) and BYU-Hawaii Counseling Services to develop a workshop curriculum they are calling “Peace in the Home,” that will provide tools for couples to work through issues they may have at home. 

"If our students don’t leave with the tools to have peace in their home," said Ford, "they’re not going to be able to be an influence for peace internationally. You can’t make peace unless you’re at peace with yourself, and that’s the meat of the gospel—it provides that peace," he concluded.

The curriculum is also intended to give bishops and other Church leaders tools to help them in their counseling roles.  “Eventually, I think the project will expand beyond the 2nd stake into the community," said Ford.

The second project the McKay Center has recently sponsored is work with the Arbinger Corporation, an organization based on the work started by Terry Warner.  “The whole idea there,” said Ford, "is to move from seeing people as objects to seeing people as people." 

“We have a number of other opportunities that go anywhere from local to international,” said Ford.  “Budget constraints are keeping things small right now.”  His hope is that eventually the McKay Center will pick up international projects that BYU-Hawaii professors or former students might be working on in the school’s target areas.

“As the center enters its second year with a new director and board,” said Burroughs, “we have high expectations that it will fill its role in promoting intercultural understanding.”