Skip to content

Department of Religious Studies Retirees Paying It Forward

Ralph Norman
Professor Ralph Norman

The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee was founded in 1966 under the direction of its first department head, Professor Ralph Norman. This new department replaced the Tennessee School of Religion. Over the course of the first few years five additional faculty members were added, including Professor Charles Reynolds. Reynolds would go on to head the department from 1980-2001.

Now 50 years later, the department is still going strong with 14 faculty and lecturers and is currently celebrating its golden anniversary. Various seminars and events are being held throughout the 2016-2017 academic year to mark this departmental milestone.

In preparation for this celebration, Norman and Reynolds have provided funds to help establish the “Religious Studies Endowment.” This new endowment will provide funding for departmental programming and/or faculty retention needs.

Charles Reynolds
Professor Charles Reynolds
“Charlie and I felt that the endowment was just the right thing to do. It was a way to ensure that the department will always have access to some funds to be able to thrive for another 50 years,” said Ralph Norman. “With his recent passing, the idea that we created something that will make a significant difference in the department indefinitely is that much more meaningful,” added Norman.

Joan Riedl
Joan Riedl

Joan Riedl began working as a part-time secretary for the Department of Religious Studies in 1976 and became full time in 1980 before retiring in 2010. She endeared herself to the faculty through her loyalty, devotion, good cheer, sense of humor, and “eagle editing eye.” To honor her service and her passion for reading, The Joan Nicoll Riedl Book Awardsupports a rising major in the Department of Religious Studies and was launched in 2010. It is supported in part by the Riedl family.

John O. Hodges
John O. Hodges

The F. Stanley Lusby and John O. Hodges Teaching Endowment was established by John O. Hodges in 2014 in honor and memory of his late friend and colleague F. Stanley Lusby. This endowment provides support for awards to outstanding junior faculty or lecturers, for teaching efforts; for visiting faculty scholars who accept short-term teaching assignments and/or to provide travel funds for religious studies students. “This was a great way to recognize how much teaching and supporting students meant to Stan,” said John O. Hodges.

Other funds and lectures that honor or recognize retired faculty include the David L. Dungan Memorial Lecture and The Dr. Gilya Schmidt Endowed Faculty Award in Judaic Studies.

If you are interested in joining Professors Norman and Reynolds in their commitment to this new fund, or would like to make a gift to any of the funds that support the Department of Religious Studies, you can make a gift online  or mail a check to:

    University of Tennessee
    Department of Religious Studies
    501 McClung Tower
    Knoxville, TN 37996-0450

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.