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The Pacific Church Schools Principals Conference Held at BYU–Hawaii

Attendees of the Pacific Church School's Principal's Conference 2023 standing outside the Flag Circle at BYUH.
Pacific Church Schools administrative staff and principals.
Photo by Jeremy Higgins

Brigham Young University–Hawaii hosted this year's Pacific Church Schools Principals Conference, bringing educational leaders from various Pacific Island nations and Mexico together for five days. Other distinctive attendees included President Meurs from the Pacific Area Presidency, President Ashton from BYU-Pathway Worldwide, and Jason Willard from Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.

This year's conference theme, "Let Your Light So Shine" (Matthew 5:14-16), guided daily devotionals and presentation topics for the group to discuss how they can better prepare their students for bright futures in higher education and meaningful careers.

Conference attendee speaking into a microphone during a Q&A session.
Photo by Jeremy Higgins

On the third day of the conference, President John S.K. Kauwe III had the opportunity to address the attendees. Starting with the university's mission and vision, he emphasized BYU–Hawaii's current strategy of increasing access to serve more students from the target area, providing students with a capstone experience manifested in elevated academic and spiritual training, and improving campus facilities through various ongoing and future construction projects.

President Kauwe also touched on the significant benefits BYU–Hawaii offers prospective students, such as students obtaining a college degree and graduating free of debt through the existing work-study programs. BYU–Hawaii also provides students with a unique environment to becoming committed disciples of Jesus Christ. However, despite these appeals, T. James Faustino, dean of students, reports only 10% of Pacific Church School's student body attends BYU–Hawaii.

President Kauwe speaking at the conference podium.
BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III
Photo by Jeremy Higgins

Faustino and managers in his area used this conference to determine what the university can do to increase that 10% and admit more graduating seniors from the Pacific Church Schools. "We wanted to ask attendees, "Why not BYUH?" So we talked about the new construction management minor, and we talked about the spiritual success being inherent in our education and the blessings of staying within the Church Education System (CES)," stated Faustino.

Additionally, Faustino's team talked to attendees about job placement and what the university does to facilitate successful careers for its alumni. Over the past few years, several changes have been made to academic programs and majors to ensure the curriculum prepares students to return to successful, meaningful careers in their home countries.

Further emphasizing the university's commitment to enhancing career prospects for its graduates and increasing its outreach, President Kauwe said, "We want more students to experience BYU–Hawaii while utilizing the same limited resources." The vision of broader access and educational excellence has already seen significant progress through the partnership between BYU–Hawaii and BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

Nevertheless, President Kauwe emphasized the continued need for support from Church School representatives in preparing students to graduate faster and give the same opportunities to more students. In hopes of inspiring close teamwork among institution leaders, he stated, "We are one group, one team, with one purpose."

T. James Faustino speaking at the conference.
T. James Faustino, dean of students
Photo by Jeremy Higgins

Other meaningful collaborations helped facilitate conversations that otherwise may not have happened. Faustino explained that as separate institutions, "Sometimes we get stuck in our own silos. But the benefit of having a conference like this helps us know all the options and opportunities for prospective and current students." Faustino continued, "It was great to see different institutions (BYU–Hawaii, BYU-Pathway, Pacific Church Schools, and Seminaries & Institute) come together to support student success. The students we're trying to help are best served when we work together."

In closing, President Kauwe spotlighted the CES Board of Trustees' firm commitment to the future of BYU–Hawaii, saying, "This [commitment] is evident that the people of the isles of the sea are not forgotten. That CES, every part of it, is aimed to help Heavenly Father's purpose of serving His children."