Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) established a presence in Hawaii (then the Sandwich Islands) as early as 1843. Not until 1955 did construction begin on the future university. Hawaiian statehood was still four years away. The campus sits ten minutes from the beach. The Temple can be reached on foot within five minutes.
LDS students comprise 97 percent of the demographics. Recruitment focuses on international students, who make up 55 percent of the student body. Subsidized heavily by the Church, the university follows an Honor Code of Conduct. Students must attend church and devotionals, and the campus buildings close for both.
Being located in Hawaii, the university offers unique majors not found on the mainland. These include Hawaiian studies and Pacific Island studies. A special Hawaiian canoe, named Iosepe, was hand carved from Fijian hardwoods. The Hawaiian Studies program uses the vessel as a floating classroom.
Students in this major learn Hawaiian, Samoan, Maori, and Tongan languages, as well as the ukulele and traditional dances of the islands. The Center for Hawaiian and Pacific Island Studies will expand with four new majors in the fall of 2017. They include Communication Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Integrated Humanities, and Intercultural Peace Building.
Unique courses offered at BYUH include:Ke Kahua o ka Olelo- Kau Hope The FoundationMalama Aina Land ResponsibilityFolk Dance of the PacificHooikaika Kama ilio Traditional Oratorical Styles
The mission statement of the Center for Hawaiian and Pacific Island Studies reads, Highly qualified students possessing a strong testimony of the Gospel, with in-depth knowledge of Hawaii and Pacific cultures and languages in order to build communities and strengthen families. BYUH funds the Polynesian Culture Center (PCC) and supports its research and presentations. Many students find part-time work at the PCC. The universitys outreach program includes addressing the environment, biology, peoples, cultures, politics, sea life, and language of the state and the Pacific.