BYU–Hawaii's Board of Trustees Announces New President

News Release

John Sears Tanner, currently serving as the first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will become the next president of BYU–Hawaii.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chair of the executive committee of the board made the announcement today at BYU–Hawaii’s weekly devotional. John Tanner replaces President Steven C. Wheelwright, who has served at the head of this internationally-focused university since 2007.

Tanner will become the next president effective July 27.

President Wheelwright came to BYU–Hawaii after having served as a former senior associate dean of the Harvard Business School's MBA program, a Baker Foundation professor and senior associate dean and director of Harvard Business School's publication activities. President Wheelwright and his wife, Margaret Steele, are the parents of five children and have 20 grandchildren.

“During his time at BYU–Hawaii, President Wheelwright has continued to improve the quality of the education delivered and efficiently utilized the resources of the Church in order to bless the lives of as many students as possible, particularly the young men and women from Asia and the Pacific,” said Elder Paul V. Johnson, Church commissioner of education.

At the announcement, Elder Nelson praised President Wheelwright for his leadership. “During this time of sustained growth and impressive progress, he has superbly carried out the mission of this great university.  President Wheelwright’s legacy of consecrated service will continue to be felt on this campus and throughout the world for many years to come.”

“It has been a sacred privilege to participate in this work,” President Wheelwright said. “This is a place with a prophetic destiny and purpose. As students study here, they prepare to provide leadership in their families, their communities, their chosen field and in building the kingdom of God. It has been a great blessing to lead them in that process of developing their knowledge and faith.”

John S. Tanner, who will be inaugurated as BYU–Hawaii’s 10th president, has been recognized for his role as a Church leader and his work as a former academic vice president at BYU in Provo. During his time at BYU, President Tanner was first a professor of English and then a chair of the English Department before becoming the university’s academic vice president from 2004 to 2011, where he developed the Freshman Academy program to guide incoming students, revised the university’s general education requirements and wrote BYU’s Educational AIMS (Spiritually Strengthening, Intellectually Enlarging, Character Building, Lifelong Learning and Service).

His many years of service in the Church have taken him around the world. As a young man, Tanner served a full-time mission in Brazil and later returned to that country with his wife to serve as the president of the Brazil São Paulo South Mission. As a member of the Sunday School general presidency, he has traveled to Southeast Asia and throughout the United States to assist in the implementation of the new youth Sunday School curriculum, which focuses on a model of learning through questions and is designed to change and adapt to meet the learner’s needs and to deepen testimony and conversion. He has been actively involved in preparing similar curriculum for adult classes.

Tanner will be taking the helm at BYU–Hawaii with his wife, Susan W. Tanner, former general Young Women president of the Church, and the encouragement of their five children. “I am inspired by the vision that prophets have had for BYU–Hawaii,” Tanner said. “I intend to build on that wonderful legacy of aloha and learning and service that exists here to bless the international Church.”

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