‘A master teacher’

Harvard scholar to take helm at BYU-Hawaii

Declaring a new chapter in the great history of BYU-Hawaii, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced on June 5 that an internationally renowned emeritus scholar from Harvard Business School will soon take the reins of the Church-owned university in Laie, Hawaii.

During a press conference in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, President Hinckley introduced Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright, 63, to Salt Lake media, as well as local media, faculty, staff and students gathered in the Cannon Activities Center on the BYU-Hawaii campus who were watching proceedings live via satellite.

After describing Dr. Wheelwright's "wealth of experience and knowledge" in the academic field, President Hinckley added that the soon-to-be-president of BYU-Hawaii, who is scheduled to take the reins on June 23, is known "for more than his academic accomplishments. His colleagues describe him as wise, energetic and optimistic with a profound, personal commitment to the gospel. He's a master teacher who has a genuine love for the students he works with and the institutions he represents."

"Through his expertise and many associations I'm confident he will expand the influence of BYU-Hawaii and bless the lives of all who come to this illustrious school."

Sitting with President Hinckley in the Conference Center studio were Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education. Sitting beside Dr. Wheelwright was his wife, Margaret, who was described by President Hinckley as a "lady of charm and grace and capacity who will add much to the atmosphere and tone of this great university."

In his remarks, President Hinckley called the university situated on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu a "wonderful and unique school. I don't think there is any other institution that can compare with it. Its 2,400 students come from 70 nations. With 46 percent of them originating outside the United States, BYU-Hawaii is the most international university, per capita, in the country. Together with the Polynesian Cultural Center, this school is touching millions of lives."

Referring to the 1955 groundbreaking for what was then known as the Church College of Hawaii, President Hinckley quoted then-Church President David O. McKay: "From this school … will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally."

President Hinckley continued: "BYU-Hawaii has fulfilled this vision focusing on both academic excellence and building strong character among its students. Because of this, U.S. News and World Report's annual 'best colleges' survey has consistently ranked the campus in the top tier among 'comprehensive' undergraduate institutions in the western United States."

Expressing gratitude to current BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway and his wife, Carolyn, President Hinckley said that President Shumway first came to BYU-Hawaii in 1966 as a member of the faculty. He later served as chairman of the division of communications and language arts and as vice president of academics before his appointment as president in 1994.

"For almost four decades he has served this institution with all his heart with only a brief break as a mission president in Tonga. And we are not through with him yet. President Shumway will now serve as the new temple president for the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple. Under his leadership BYU-Hawaii has expanded, gained a reputation for academic excellence and made significant contributions internationally through its alumni."

Beginning his remarks, Dr. Wheelwright stepped to the microphone and said, "Aloha!" in greeting those on the campus in Laie. The Harvard scholar then mentioned "a handful of things that we find exciting to us personally:"

  • “The first is the great legacy that has been provided…. I am grateful to President Shumway and for so many others who have provided the foundation upon which we can build.”
  • The second item, he said, is the mission of BYU-Hawaii, “which has as the center … the combination of education in secular knowledge with an equally outstanding education in spiritual knowledge.”
  • Third, he said, “is the challenge that is currently facing higher education. There is a great need in this world for young men and young women who will accept responsibility, who are willing to be held accountable and who know how to work with other people.”
  • Fourth, he said, is the opportunity to teach and to learn. “I chose to go into teaching because I thought it was the noblest of all the professions.”
  • Fifth, he expressed a love for the outdoors. “I think Hawaii is one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and Margaret and I are looking forward very much to living there, working and getting to know each of you.”

In brief remarks, Sister Wheelwright referred to her husband as the "most kind and loving man I know."

Dr. Wheelwright graduated from Stanford University with a master's degree in business and a doctorate. He spent a year on the faculty of INSEAD, a business school in Fontainebleau, France, and spent the remainder of his academic career working between Harvard and Stanford. He is the former senior associate dean of the Harvard Business School MBA program and was the Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers Professor of Management at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He retired in 2006.

From 2000-2003, he served as a mission president in London, England. For the past eight months, Brother and Sister Wheelwright have served as Church service missionaries at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho.

Chris Morales, Church News staff writer, contributed to this article.

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