Carol Merrill, director of Weber State’s Women’s Center, is retiring after more than 18 years of working at the university.
Merrill, who owns Merrill Academy of Fine Arts, plans to continue to teach art at her academy after she retires from Weber State.
When Merrill first came to Weber she planned to stay only a year until she realized her passion for working with women and serving students.
Merrill became a single mother of four when her children were 7, 5, 4 and 1. At the time she came up with a five-year plan: She would graduate from Weber within four years before continuing onto grad school for a year and then applying at the Women’s Center.
Somehow five years turned into much more.
“There was something that just touched me about helping women rediscover themselves,” Merrill said. “It was helping them find a sense of personal empowerment. It was very fulfilling as far as a career path.”
She created a single mom’s support group and a relationship separation support group, so the center would be inclusive for both genders.
Merrill also worked to put together many conferences for women’s fairs, single moms and women’s empowerment.
The Women’s Center recruited donors and was able to enhance the scholarship program to the point that the center has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships.
In order to bring the scholarship donors and recipients together, the Women’s Center started hosting an annual Elegant Evening of Recognition. Over time the Elegant Evening of Recognition was changed to a less elaborate evening, Merrill said, but it still brought donors and scholarship recipients together.
The ability to re-create programs, as she did with the scholarship dinner, is part of the magic of working at Weber State, Merrill said.
The scholarships and the dinner illustrate another of Merrill’s traits, her assistant Elizabeth Greenhalgh said.
“With Carol, nothing is impossible or done on a small scale,” Greenhalgh said via email. “She tends to think of things in a global sense. Her ability to network and inspire people is amazing.”
Merrill also founded the Women of Weber (W.O.W.) program, which provides the opportunity to nominate faculty, staff and students who are exceptional in multiple categories.
The nine awards, all with the acronym W.O.W., are Woman of Weber, Woman of Wonder, Woman of the World, Woman of Wisdom, Warrior of Women, Woman of Wellness, Woman of Wit, Woman of Worth and Woman of Warmth.