President John S.K. Kauwe III announced the appointment of Dr. Isaiah Walker as the Academic Vice President following approval from the BYU–Hawaii Board of Trustees. Walker will be replacing John Bell, who will be retiring after many years of service in the Church Educational System. Walker’s appointment is effective July 1, 2021.
Walker is currently a full professor in the Faculty of Language, Culture & Performing Arts and serves as the chair of the Faculty Advisory Council overseeing faculty research, diversity, and scholarship. Prior to his tenure at BYU–Hawaii, Walker taught at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He joined the BYU–Hawaii faculty in 2006.
"I am delighted that Isaiah has agreed to join our leadership team," said President Kauwe. "He is respected among the faculty for his capacity to navigate complex issues smoothly and to develop solutions through discussion and compromise."
Regarding Bell's retirement, President Kauwe said, “John has led our academic programs with wisdom and love. His influence is felt around the world and will impact many generations. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I have had to work with him personally. I am certain that he and Rhonda will continue their service-based approach to life and bless many more people and communities. We will miss them dearly and they will always be welcomed as ‘ohana here at BYU–Hawaii.” Bell has served as the Academic Vice President since May of 2015.
In addition to authoring an award-winning book entitled "Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in 20th Century Hawaiʻi," Walker has published several academic articles and book chapters. He has also consulted as the historian on multiple media publications and productions.
Walker completed a doctorate in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied American and Hawaiian history. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from BYU–Hawaii and a master’s degree from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.
“Isaiah is an exceptional teacher, scholar, and leader. As a graduate of BYU–Hawaii, he has a special perspective of our students, their needs, and potential. I have been impressed by his thoughtful approach to complex issues and his unwavering commitment to the mission of BYU–Hawaii and the spiritual and academic success of our students. I look forward to working with him in the coming years,” said President Kauwe.
Walker was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, where he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990 at age 16. He served a mission in San Diego, California. He is married to Rebekah Matagi and they have five children.