Kevin Miyasaki, the student services and activities vice president, has worked for BYU-Idaho since it was Ricks College, but he said his love for the school goes back even further.
“Well, of course, I grew up in the valley and went to Ricks College, and so I was familiar with it,” Miyasaki said. “I came back to Idaho after finishing my graduate degree in social work at Arizona State.”
Miyasaki said it was while he was living in Idaho when he was first contacted for a teaching position at BYU-I.
“I thought, ‘Well, never thought about teaching. Don’t know if I’d like teaching,’” Miyasaki said. “I was interviewed, and I wasn’t selected. I thought, ‘That’s alright. I didn’t seek it,’ and didn’t feel bad about it.”
Miyasaki said he thought Ricks College was just not meant to be. He said he continued to progress in his career and became the director of the Juvenile Correction Center in St. Anthony, Idaho. He said that he later received another call to work in the Dean of Students office. However, he was not as excited about this opportunity because the position at Ricks was almost a demotion from the position he held as director at the Juvenile Correction Center.
He said when the interview came, he had to decide if he wanted to work at Ricks College or not.
“I came with the attitude that I have a love for this place, because I did have a love for this place,” Miyasaki said. “It’s been in my backyard all my life. Really, it’s the front yard; it’s not the backyard. It’s a lot bigger than my backyard.”
Miyasaki said he was offered a job in the Dean of Students office as an assistant in 1992. He worked in the Dean of Students office for five years, and then he became the International Student Advisor.
“Foreign student advisors work with students and scholars from all over the world,” according to the U.S Department of State International Information Programs database. “They provide information, programs and services designed to make these students’ and scholars’ U.S. experiences as productive as possible.”
Miyasaki said he was then asked to be the school’s registrar, a position responsible for helping students register for classes, graduate, access records and provide other services, such as a catalog of all courses offered by the university, provide transcripts and more. The registrar and his office handles anything that has to do with course registration and graduation, according to the BYU-I Web page.
“They asked me to be the registrar, which just really threw me off,” Miyasaki said. “I knew nothing about systems. I knew nothing about what a registrar did. I didn’t even know how to spell it right.”
Miyasaki said he was asked to be the registrar’s assistant so he could learn what his responsibilities were.
“At that time, Kelly Hymas, who was the registrar, was diagnosed with cancer,” Miyasaki said. “I went to his home on Friday evening to tell him I would be his assistant. I looked forward to being trained to learn from him and help him out whenever I could, letting him know I was just absolutely clueless as to what my responsibilities were.”
Miyasaki said that following Monday, Kelly Hymas passed away.
“So there I was, now the registrar, not knowing a clue of what to do,” Miyasaki said. “But I was actually raised by a wonderful staff and I.T. I was coached and helped and raised by some very, very good and sweet people there who are lifelong mentors to me.”
Miyasaki said it was while he was working in the registrar’s office that the change from Ricks College to BYU-I happened.
“I remember that day so clearly because, the night before, we had friends from Japan come and visit us,” Miyasaki said. “That evening, I did a walking tour with them and walked around the campus. This man just kept on saying, ‘This is too big, this is too nice to be a junior college. It needs to be a university.’ I said, ‘It’ll never be a university. We’ll never be a four-year school.’”
Miyasaki said it was that night he received a phone call in which the secretary to the university president told him Ricks College was being turned into a four-year university.
“Of course, the next day, they made the announcement,” Miyasaki said. “So I called my friend up and told him, ‘You are right. You’re a prophet.’”
Miyasaki said that after working in the registrar’s office, he was asked to be the Dean of Students, and then four years ago, he was asked to work in his current position as Vice President of Student Services and Activities.
Mary Taylor, an executive secretary for Miyasaki, said there is a lot to love about Miyasaki: his humor, his ability to listen to the Spirit, his humility and his socks.
“He would never show anybody, but he wears crazy socks occasionally,” Taylor said. “So I always kinda’ peak to see what he’s got on. So yeah, love his socks.”
Miyasaki said the greatest blessing he has seen from working at BYU-I is seeing the hand of the Lord in everything at the school, from inspiration on how to do his job to seeing the leaders of the university being inspired and seeing the hand of the Lord in the lives of the students.
“I’ve always felt like everything that’s come to my mind has not been something that I’ve been able to do,” Miyasaki said. “Particularly when I was registrar. I knew it wasn’t me, because I didn’t know how to think that way. I didn’t know how to think systems. I didn’t know how to think academic policies. But the things that came to my mind and the ways to do things, I believe, were truly inspired and came from heaven.”
Taylor said she remembered an experience that touched her heart.
“A mother brought a little boy in, and they had been over in the bookstore, and he had taken a small piece of candy and put it in his pocket,” Taylor said. “When the mom found out, she brought him up here and was hoping somebody would be willing to talk to him. President Miyasaki said, ‘Bring him in.’ He sat down with the little boy, and he talked to him, and he read him a couple of scriptures, and then he challenged him to go back and make it right.”
Taylor said the little boy’s dad happened to work on campus. President Miyasaki told the little boy to do some service in his dad’s office, and then come back and report.
“So he came back, and he sat down here, and he visited with President Miyasaki, and he told him what he had done for his dad, and what he had learned from the lesson,” Taylor said. “He was only 6 or 7 years old, but President Miyasaki took it as a teaching opportunity to help this little boy learn. It was just so sweet and so tender.”
Taylor said Miyasaki is a good leader and great man.
“He jokes all the time about his height, but he’s a giant,” Taylor said. “Maybe not in stature, but he is in spirit. He always jokes with people and says, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got your ankles,’ because most people would say ‘I’ve got your back,’ but, because he’s a little bit shorter, he’ll say, ‘I’ve got your ankles.’”
Taylor said she admires Miyasaki’s leadership skills and frugality.
“He’s very frugal,” Taylor said. “He’ll tell me all the time, ‘This isn’t my office. This is the Lord’s. I’m just being allowed to use it.’”
Taylor said she feels President Miyasaki is a great example in his stewardship.
“We’re very careful in his area with the funds because they’re tithing dollars,” Taylor said. “He will never ask any of his people that are under him to do something that he’s not willing to do himself. Even with the spirit of frugality and stewardship, he doesn’t ask anybody to give up something that he’s not willing to give up himself.”
Miyasaki said BYU-I is an absolutely unique university.
“I’ve found that the greatest blessing is to be in a meeting and to be able to open and close with a prayer, to have pictures of Christ on the wall, to sit and know that your board of trustees is made up of the First Presidency: prophets, seers and revelators,” Miyasaki said. “There’s nothing like it.”
Miyasaki said he remembered meeting with a student who was offended when people would call BYU-I the Lord’s university.
“My response to him wasn’t that this was the Lord’s school, but that the Lord resided here,” Miyasaki said. “As well as any other place where people are seeking righteously to do His will, he will help and guide them. Even those who are not of our church, he’ll help them, because he loves all of his children.”