As a long time amateur student of Religious Studies, I am delighted to serve on the Board of Visitors for the Department of Religious Studies and as its current chair. I retired from the University of Tennessee in 2007 having worked in the College of Engineering, Office of Research and finally as the executive director of Federal Relations. My previous professional experience included interfaith non-profits and community organizing, banking, and public relations.
A lifelong resident of Knoxville, I am impressed with the increased diversity of religious traditions enriching our region. I have followed the Department for many years, having taken courses in 1964 in the School of Religion. I was fortunate to have a grandfather who believed that all the world’s religions were as he said “on the same path “. Fascinated by Greek and Roman mythology, I enjoyed reading stories as a child and then more detailed in Latin classes and World Literature as a college student. Mythological stories from the Mesopotamian regions, as well as other regions of the world were not as readily available as they are today.
Working within the political realm I saw the increasing involvement of religion and use of religious language change the political landscape and behaviors. Having followed politics most of my life, I have seen the involvement of religion in the civil and human rights struggles, women’s movement, war and peace movements, and the basic political machinery of governing. From the Pilgrims to the present religion has always been involved in our national psyche and it continues to influence how we relate to one another and our country. And importantly, we should also study and value the religious practice of Native Americans in our region and nationally.
Over the years I have enjoyed friendships with Joan Riedl, Charlie Reynolds and Dave Dungan. I have also worked with Gilya Schmidt and Mark Hulsether more recently and look forward to getting to know other faculty.
I am a member of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. I currently serve on the Board of the Knox County Friends of the Library and volunteer in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Previously, I served on the board of East Tennessee Quality Growth, Planned Parenthood, and the Council of Government Affairs of the Association of Public Land Grant Universities and TVUUC.
My husband John recently retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, making science a major topic of conversation in our household. My children and grandchildren live in Knoxville as well.
As chair of the Board my hope is that we increase the visibility and engagement of the department throughout the community and regional school systems. Working with faculty, the Development office and the Board of Visitors, I hope we can develop new resources of funding and new named professorships and faculty awards.