“President Hunter Installs New BYU—Hawaii President,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 79
In a day also marked by flowers and song, President Howard W. Hunter presided over the inauguration of Eric B. Shumway, the eighth president of Brigham Young University’s Hawaii campus, on 18 November 1994 in Laie, Hawaii. President Hunter charged the new university leader to “build faith in … the great principles which lead to eternal life which come to us from the prophets of God, both anciently and in our own time,” and to do it as “a central part of your educational purpose, not as an addendum to it.”
President Hunter was accompanied by his wife, Inis, and the Board of Trustees of the university, including Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Seventy; and Sister Elaine L. Jack, general president of the Relief Society. Some six thousand guests from academia, business, government, and the community attended the event, which was a celebration of love and support for both President Hunter and the new college president.
President Hunter noted that it was only three years after the first settlers entered the Salt Lake Valley when missionaries were sent to Hawaii. “The pioneers had scarcely had time to build a shelter and break ground for planting,” he recalled, when ten missionaries were called “to open the work of the Lord in these Sandwich Islands.
“Laie has since been crowned with a magnificent temple which flanks this campus on the one hand. The campus is flanked on the other by the beautiful and unique Polynesian Cultural Center.” Calling the three institutions a “triad of learning,” President Hunter noted that they “have a significant place in the plan of the Lord to further the work of his kingdom.”
Surrounded by hundreds of students from more than sixty countries, President Hunter asked President Shumway “to find ever better ways to allow the diversity of cultures from which students come and to which they will go to be an effective and important part of the educational resources of this campus.”
President Shumway began his association with BYU—Hawaii in 1966 as an instructor in the English department. In 1975 he became the chairman of the Communications and Language Arts Division, and he was named vice president for academics in 1980. He served as mission president in Tonga from 1986 to 1989 and was acting president of the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1991. Fluent in the Tongan language, President Shumway holds the high chief title of Faivaola, is the author of An Intensive Course in Tongan, and is the translator and editor of Tongan Saints: Legacy of Faith.
While in Hawaii, President Hunter attended a session in the Hawaii Temple and toured the community of Laie. On Sunday morning he attended sacrament meeting at the Laie Fifth Ward and shook hands with every member following the meeting. His warmth, ready humor, and quick recall of names, faces, and meetings from years earlier touched the hearts of the members. “His presence brought a different spirit among us,” observed Bishop Alan Oleole. “It was so strong you could almost touch it in the air, and he was so loving and gracious. We will never forget his visit with us!”