Paul Felshaw Merrill served for over 15 years as chair of the Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology. He obtained his undergraduate degree from BYU and his PhD in educational psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, then spent five years on the faculty of Florida State University. He joined the BYU faculty in 1977 and retired in 2010.
At BYU Merrill taught classes in instructional design and computer applications in education. The constant change in computer technology over 33 years required him to be a continual learner. He learned and taught numerous computer-programming languages and authoring systems. Having served a mission in Argentina, he had a particular interest in foreign languages that led to the development of several Web-based second language acquisition applications (open.byu.edu/ projects/readers/). Merrill voluntarily taught religion classes at BYU as well.
Merrill was born in Thatcher, Arizona, and moved often with his family as he was growing up—living in Arizona, California, Utah, and Idaho. Merrill’s interest in teaching came to him through example, since his father was a high school history teacher, school principal, and superintendent. His mother was a public school nurse.
Merrill continues to love teaching. Currently he is the high priest group instructor in his ward. He has also served as bishop, branch president, counselor in a stake presidency, Gospel Doctrine teacher, executive secretary, and ward clerk. To be more efficient in his duties as ward clerk, he developed a computer-based ward membership system that became a prototype for the Church’s current membership system.
Merrill and his wife, Sunny, are the parents of four, the grandparents of eleven, and the great-grandparents of one.
Since retiring, Merrill and his wife have been remodeling rental properties. He also spends time working in the backyard, where he has installed a regulation horseshoe pit. Despite the effects of Parkinson’s, he continues to enjoy playing golf, riding his bike, and pitching horseshoes with his family and neighbors. He has been an avid BYU basketball fan for 35 years and attends all of the home games with his sons.