Weber State University to add new center honoring former professor and his wife

May 1 2013 - 10:00pm

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Contributed Photo
Boyd K. Packer speaking at a Weber State College graduation on June 10, 1983.
Contributed Photo
Boyd K. Packer speaking at a Weber State College graduation on June 10, 1983.

OGDEN -- Weber State University announced Wednesday the founding of the Boyd K. and Donna S. Packer Center for Family and Community Education.

Organizers say the Packer Center will support and strengthen eight educational and community outreach programs: The Literacy Project, Teachers Assistant Pathway to Teaching, the Families Alive Conference, Teachers of Tomorrow, the WSU Charter Academy, the Weber State University Storytelling Festival, Melba S. Lehner Children's School, and Child Care Resource and Referral.

"The center will allow us to give additional support to programs we already have, through additional staff and institutional support," said Chloe D. Merrill, Packer Center director. "The center is named for the Packers because they are alumni of the university, and because of their values of education and family."

Boyd K. Packer, a former educator, now serves as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Packers met in 1947, when both were Weber State students. Boyd Packer was a former bomber pilot, returned after World War II. Donna Smith was a Brigham City Peach Queen and worked at the library, their son said.

"Mother was working at the circulation desk and Dad approached her, and they visited a little bit," David Packer said in a statement. "There must have been a spark there, because Dad said all of a sudden he became studious and spent more and more time in the library. One thing led to another, and eventually they were engaged and married later that summer."

Donna Smith Packer attended Weber State on a music scholarship, playing the violin. She was president of the pep club, and lettered in women's basketball.

"Mother talks about having a wonderful experience at Weber College," David Packer said. "She was involved with many activities on campus both educationally and socially. It was an enriching experience to broaden her horizons to see things she had not experienced previously. Our family hopes this new center is a great opportunity for individuals to participate in things that they have not done before, and that they can grow and fulfill their dreams in ways they didn't envision when they entered the program. If individuals will take advantage of those opportunities, there's no limit to what they can accomplish."

The dean of the College of Education, Jack L. Rasmussen, said the new center will help programs flourish that already have a proven track record of helping children, families and students.

"The Packer Center will allow us to enhance, strengthen and support some of these terrific programs, which we've developed over time, that really make an impact both for our students and the community," Rasmussen said.

Merrill said the Packers' emphasis on education and family is in perfect sync with the center's education outreach programs.

"Our programs look at individuals to see where they are currently, and then we help support them physically, emotionally, mentally and developmentally, so they can reach their fullest potential," Merrill said. "It is exciting to see their growth and success in life."

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