The purpose of BYU–Hawaii’s newest addition to campus is etched prominently into its light-color exterior.
Extending down the front of the three-story building are words taken from Alma 30:44: “All things denote there is a God. Yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it.”
The new Science Building will be home to math and science instruction on campus, or — as Elder Neil L. Andersen noted in his dedicatory prayer for the facility on Saturday, Jan. 15 — a place where worldly learning will be combined with the learning of heaven.
“Let the beautiful scripture that stands before us outside be forever in our minds and in our hearts,” the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles prayed.
Elder Andersen gathered with other Church and university leaders in the lobby of the new state-of-the-art facility on the Laie, Hawaii, campus to dedicate it “as a place of learning and righteousness” that it might “stand firm and true for decades” to come.
Standing in front of a colorful mosaic depicting a fractal of ocean water, BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III began the event by welcoming guests and giving an overview of the new building.
Among those attending the dedication were Sister Kathy Andersen, Elder Andersen’s wife; former BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner and his wife, Sister Susan Tanner; Polynesian Cultural Center President Alfred Grace and his wife, Sister Val Grace; and the Hawaii Laie Mission leaders, President Sidney J. Bassett and Sister Stephanie R. Bassett.
The Science Building replaces the old General Classroom Building, which was demolished in March 2021. That building was not one of the original buildings of campus but started out as a shop where trades were taught such as auto mechanics, drafting, plumbing and carpentry.
Through the years the building was remodeled to include more classrooms and labs, but it frequently experienced flooding. In response, the new building was raised roughly 36 inches, to be above the flood plain.
The roughly 42,000-square-foot facility features eight classrooms designed to be convertible, meaning building systems and classroom design can be easily modified to accommodate different teaching methods or changing program needs. There are also 22 labs, 24 offices and several informal learning areas where students can study and socialize.
“This building is going to allow for academic preparation, exchange and discovery of knowledge in ways that have simply not been possible on this campus before,” said President Kauwe, who is an internationally recognized researcher and scientist. “It will enhance our capacity to do scholarly work and engage in scholarly work that just wasn’t feasible. This new capacity is going to provide our students with learning and experiences that will prepare them to succeed in their future endeavors even in an increasingly challenging and changing world.”
President Kauwe also noted many of the unique motifs and features of the new building.
“There are incredible images that hearken us to the beauty of biology and the truth that can be found in understanding and studying it,” he noted.
For example, the floor of the main lobby is made with terrazzo, where seashells, sand and stones are pressed into concrete and then smoothed. The hexagon — used in geometry, chemistry and the math behind natural sciences — is found on the floors and light fixtures throughout the building.
The Science Building is also the tallest building on campus, with “absolutely amazing” views, he said. From one side of the third floor, viewers can see a panorama of campus on down to the turquoise ocean; from the other side of the building are views of the verdant mountains and Laie Hawaii Temple.
The press release for the new building notes that the light color of the building was inspired by the prayer offered by President David O. McKay to dedicate the Church College of Hawaii, predecessor to BYU–Hawaii, in 1958.
“May there radiate from these buildings an aura of light as tangible as personality radiates from each individual, influencing all to live clean and upright lives, to seek truth diligently, to be inspired so to live that others seeing their good deeds may live to glorify Thee, our Creator, our Father, our God,” President McKay prayed.
In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Andersen asked that the new building continue to be a light.
Prior to offering the dedicatory prayer, Elder Andersen noted that the university didn’t simply replace the General Classroom Building, but raised it, literally, and improved it. The new Science Building was also designed with future expansion in mind. The same philosophy must be applied to how the university treats students by helping them grow and improve, the Apostle said.
Elder Andersen recalled when he and Sister Andersen moved to Brazil 20 years ago after he was called to serve as president of the Brazil South Area. He realized that although he had a sure knowledge of the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ, he only had a certain amount of understanding of the language and culture. However, if he could take the leaders in Brazil and help instill in them confidence, both in the Lord and in their own capacities, then they could do something much better than he could.
With the new Science Building, faculty and administrators must help instill confidence in the capacities of science as well as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Following the dedication, President Kauwe shared with Church News his gratitude for Elder Andersen’s message. “Elder Andersen brought us a clear and simple message — we must have and increase our confidence in the Lord and in ourselves. The new Science Building represents the support and confidence that the Lord has in our students and their divine potential. It inspires this confidence and allows our students to be trained and mentored in ways that were simply not feasible in the past.”
In his remarks during the event, President Kauwe recalled when he was a faculty member at BYU, in Provo, Utah, and then-Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicated the Life Sciences Building. Elder Nelson taught: “All truth is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether truth comes from a scientific laboratory or by revelation from the Lord, it is all compatible. All truth is part of the everlasting gospel.”
Elder Nelson continued: “There is no conflict between science and religion. Conflict only arises from an incomplete knowledge of either science or religion or both.”
President Kauwe said that in their new Science Building, “We can learn to teach the gospel principles with intelligence and help people understand what it means to have a complete understanding of science and a complete understanding of faith and bring that truth together.”
The program also featured remarks by President Tanner and Isaiah Walker, BYU–Hawaii’s new academic vice president, and a musical number titled “All Things Denote There Is a God,” written by Erica Glenn, a visiting assistant professor of choral activities and voice, and performed by selected members of the Hoʻolōkahi Chamber Choir.