When Weber State University initially announced that they would be naming their new Center For Families in honor of Boyd K. Packer, one faculty member expressed concern. Assistant professor Jared Lisonbee, of the College of Education, suggested to WSU administration that naming the center after Packer would alienate many of the families the center was intended to serve. For over four decades Packer, a leader in the LDS Church, has made denigrating statements regarding women, interracial marriage, intellectuals, and the LGBT community.
Lisonbee was recently informed that his contract with WSU was not being renewed. No reason has been given. A request for information to WSU spokesman John Kowalewski has not been answered at this time.
Lisonbee’s wife, Shairylann, believes her husband was fired for his objection to the naming of the center after Packer.
“Last year in the faculty meeting. where the name for the family center was announced, he was the only person who protested the naming, mentioning that Packer was not viewed as friendly toward gays, academicians, feminists and interracial couples. Since then, his department chair became increasingly hostile, making off-handed comments toward him like, ‘You know, Weber State is not a good fit for everyone.'”
Mrs. Lisonbee is convinced that her husband’s opposition to the naming, and her editorial published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, were the motivations behind Weber’s decision to not renew her husband’s contract. Following Lisonbee’s letter, a petition was started through Change.org by James Carroll. That petition was picked up by the Utah Stonewall Democrats, a non-profit volunteer group dedicated to LGBT activism. The petition garnered over 2,300 signatures, and the USD made headlines around the nation with their vocal opposition to the university’s decision to name the center after Packer. Weber State’s response is that the Packer name has helped them raise funds for the Center and they won’t reconsider the decision.
According to Lisonbee, the termination is retaliatory and “obviously related to our opposition to the naming of the Packer Center.”