The BYU–Hawaii President’s Council is charged with determining the strategic direction of the university on all levels: educational, fiscal, spiritual, and physical. Their primary focus is the success of each individual student and the leadership development of the entire BYU–Hawaii ‘ohana. As the President’s Council works to accomplish the mission of the university, they make decisions to align resources with key priorities. While the President’s Council has specific responsibility for the university, its students, employees, and resources, they are also concerned with how the decisions of BYU–Hawaii affect Laie and the surrounding community.
President John S.K. Kauwe III University President
John S.K. Kauwe III is the eleventh president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii. He assumed the presidency in July 2020. He is a professor of Biology at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo where he served previously as the chair of the Biology Department and as Dean of Graduate Studies.
President Kauwe earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology (1999) and a master’s degree in population genetics (2003) at BYU. From 1999-2001, he served as a full-time missionary in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. He received a Ph.D. in evolution, ecology, and population biology in 2007 from Washington University in St. Louis where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Alzheimer’s disease genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine in 2008.
President Kauwe’s professional focus has been primarily on solving the genetic basis of risk for Alzheimer’s disease. His work, which includes more than 100 peer-reviewed published papers in the past decade, has contributed in unique ways to our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease risk and resilience. He also conducts research on the genetic basis of other human traits and is engaged in ongoing work on genomics and population genetics in Indo-Pacific fish species.
President Kauwe is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Maori, and Northern European ancestry. He was raised in Orem, Utah and various parts of Hawaii and is a graduate of Molokai High and Intermediate School (’96). He is the fourth great-grandson of Kaleohano, one of the first converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hawaii.
President Kauwe and his wife Monica are the parents of five children, ages 3 to 14.
Academic Vice President
Born and raised in Hilo, Hawai‘i, Isaiah Walker joined BYU–Hawaii as a full-time faculty member in 2006. Prior to becoming the Academic Vice President, Walker was a history professor in the Faculty of Language, Culture & Performing Arts, served as the chair of the Faculty Advisory Council, and was previously chair of the History Program. Prior to his tenure at BYU–Hawaii, Walker was a visiting professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and a lecturer at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Walker completed a doctorate in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied American and Hawaiian history. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from BYU–Hawaii and a master’s degree from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.
In addition to authoring "Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in 20th Century Hawai‘i," Walker has published several academic articles and book chapters. He has also consulted as the historian on multiple media publications and productions as a leading expert in his field. He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990 at age 16. He served a mission in San Diego, California. He is married to Rebekah Matagi and they have five children.
Jonathan Kalaonalani Kau
Student Life Vice President
Jonathan Kau joined BYU–Hawaii in September 2020. Prior to his appointment, Jon served as Director of Student Wellness and of Facility Services at BYU in Provo, where his vision has been to “empower students in the active pursuit of their best self.” In addition to teaching student development classes, Kau also chaired the Honor Code Advisory Council and Campus Life Assessment and Evaluation Committee. Before serving as the director of student wellness in 2017, Kau served as the associate dean of students, director of the Center for Service and Learning, and various other roles in Student Leadership and the division of Student Life.
Kau earned a master’s degree in student development administration from Seattle University and bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and Asian studies at BYU. Kau served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hong Kong. He and his wife, Jazzeth, are the parents of a blended family of eight children and seven grandchildren.
Steven W. Tueller
Administrative Vice President
Steve Tueller has worked within the Church Education System for nearly 30 years and began his career at BYU in Provo in the Physical Facilities Division. He has extensive experience in budgeting, strategic planning, space management, sales and marketing, and has held various positions at BYU in Provo and the CES Commissioner’s Office. Steve came to BYU–Hawaii in June of 2006 and has served as the managing director of budget and Human Resources. He served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Osaka, Japan. Steve earned his bachelor’s degree in human resource development, a master’s degree in international and area studies, and an MBA, all from BYU in Provo. He and his wife, Laurie, are the parents of seven children and three grandchildren.
Operations Vice President
Before coming to BYUH in 2011, Cory Higgins was the executive director of facility management and construction for the University of Utah. He had previously served as their facility operations director beginning in 2006. Cory is a civil/structural engineer by training with a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Provo. He continued his educational pursuits with a master’s degree in engineering management from BYU and a doctorate in organizational leadership applied to facility organizations from Colorado State University. He is a professional engineer (PE) as well as Process Improvement Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified. He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of four boys and one daughter.
Assistant to the President, University Communications
Laura Tevaga has spent the last 25 years in media and direct marketing and has worked for the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, BYUtv, KBYU-TV & FM, and BYU Broadcasting. Before coming to BYU–Hawaii, Laura was Director of Development and Station Management at BYU Broadcasting where she served as a key member of the executive management team, providing direction and oversight for several television and radio stations and their 450+ employees. Laura also has extensive fundraising experience and has raised over $25 million for various non-profit organizations across Utah. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from BYU and an Executive MBA from BYU’s Marriott School of Management. Laura was born and raised in Chicago but now calls Hawaii home. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, socializing, and offering unsolicited advice to her husband Nofoa and their two children.