John S.K. Kauwe III was officially inaugurated as the eleventh president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii by Elder Jeffry R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and member of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University–Hawaii, on Tuesday, October 19. Elder Holland presided over the meeting conducted by Elder Clark G. Gilbert of the Seventy. Other speakers included President Kauwe and representatives of faculty, alumni, and students.
Elder Holland gracefully touched on the significance of President Kauwe's installation stating, "We've looked far and wide to find the best to lead out in this next chapter of the quest. We found him, who will be the youngest president ever to serve here and a true native son of these beautiful islands of his ancestors." Elder Holland then "commanded" the congregation to have fun that day and enjoy the celebrations to follow.
In his response speech, President Kauwe spoke of his cherished homegrown blackberries using this fruit's unique growing habits and climate as an example of the student body at Brigham Young University–Hawaii. Suggesting that blackberries wouldn't grow well in Hawaii as they would Utah; it would be a waste of "time and resources" to focus energy on them here. Instead, allocating resources for growing lilikoi, mango, guava, and other tropical fruits that thrive in these circumstances is a better investment.
President continues to explain how fortunate we are to labor in this part of the Lord's vineyard. He states, "We are charged to build up young Latter-day Saints who are still developing and strengthening themselves in secular and spiritual things." He continues by saying, "Our mission is to be and build people that follow the example of Jesus Christ, people who are an example of unity, appreciation, esteem, of love for one another. Those associated with BYU–Hawaii in the past, present, and future carry the sacred responsibility of bringing [past] prophetic statements to pass" and carrying that throughout the world.
President Kauwe emphasizes the importance of serving students from countries in Polynesia and the East rim of Asia. That BYU–Hawaii exists for these students, including those concerned about improving the lives of those around them. He explains that in the past year alone, many changes have been made to refine academic and student life programs to solve better the social needs found in these target countries. He continues suggesting that although we are a small school located in a remote town, we can bring more students and bless more lives than ever by leveraging more learning environments through BYU-Pathway Worldwide and other online programs. President Kauwe goes on to say we are a unique school with a particular purpose, and "together, we will continue this work."
We look forward to the persistent change and progression President Kauwe and his appointed leaders will bring to the university in the months and years to come.
President Kauwe succeeded President John S. Tanner, who had served in the position since 2015.