President David O. McKay, along with hundreds of Latter-day Saints, gathered in an open field on the north shore of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on Feb. 12, 1955, to dedicate the ground for the building of the Church College of Hawaii.
In his dedicatory remarks, President McKay prophesied, "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."On Sunday, Feb. 12, 1995, four decades and thousands of students later, a similar crowd gathered in the 5,600-seat Cannon Activity Center on the same land - now a part of the BYU-Hawaii campus - for a fireside in honor of the school's 40th anniversary. The Alumni Founder's Day Fireside was the culmination of a week of celebrations commemorating the founding of the university.
In his closing remarks at the fireside, BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway said he wanted to pay tribute to those who believed President McKay and sacrificed and labored to assure the university was built.
"I wish I could meet face-to-face with each labor missionary who came here to build this great university and tell them what it is like today," Pres. Shumway said. "I feel the spirit of what they hoped for and know that many of their dreams for this institution have come to pass."
Today, BYU-Hawaii has become a respected and prospering four-year university widely acclaimed for successfully meshing the cultures of Polynesia in an academic setting. From an original 143 students in 1955, the school's enrollment has climbed to more than 2,000 students representing some 60 nations.
On Nov. 18, 1994, President Howard W. Hunter visited BYU-Hawaii and gave the following charge that will take the university into its fifth decade: "We charge you to find better ways to help every student, faculty member and employee become part of a loving, productive and honest community."