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From Stomp the Yard to Think Like a Man, entertainment mogul Will Packer has continually tapped into the power of storytelling to bring an array of Black narratives to the forefront. He recently received a special honor from his alma mater for his contributions to the industry. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Florida A&M University has named its new performing arts center after Packer.
The Florida native—who founded Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media—graduated from the Tallahassee-based school with a degree in engineering nearly 25 years ago. He later ended up pivoting from engineering and stepping into the entertainment space; using his creativity to illustrate that the Black experience isn’t a monolith through the creation and development of projects that captured different life perspectives. Packer wanted to pay it forward and give back to the institution that has instrumentally shaped his journey, leading him to make a $500,000 donation to the HBCU. He was honored by FAMU during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony that was attended by the likes of Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, comedian Kevin Hart, television host Rashan Ali and singer Anthony Hamilton.
“HBCU giving has never been more essential than it is today. I’m honored to give back to the institution that has given so much to me and others over the years,” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I hope this accomplishment serves as an inspiration for future generations of FAMUans who will know the success I achieved has its foundations in the same halls, classrooms and dorms where they reside.” Packer has been appointed to produce the next Oscars telecast.
His donation comes at a time when historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country are receiving an outpour of donations, some of which are coming from alumni. In August, Alabama A&M University recorded its largest individual gift from an anonymous alum.