It’s Honors Day Once Again

Four REL students at the 2021 homecoming tent

With just a few weeks of the semester left to complete we arrive at yet another Honors Day on campus — an opportunity to recognize accomplishments from the past school year, of students, faculty, and even alums. And, in lieu of an in-person event this year, REL has created another video to celebrate some achievements in the Department.

At 10 a.m. this morning we hope that you can cheer on Jackson Foster, the student selected to receive REL’s annual Outstanding Student in the Study of Religion award, presented this year by Prof. Newton, our Undergraduate Director.

Thanks to all those who helped to create this year’s video and especially
to Prof. Newton who produced, directed, and edited it.

Honors Week 2022

Presidents Hall with honors day banners on the balconies

It’s hard to believe that it’s early April already and another Honors Week has arrived. If you’ve been around the building you know that the banners are all up along the second floor (and also on part of the third, where REL now has 4, and soon 5, faculty offices). They date back 21 years, listing all of the names of all of our Silverstein Scholars, including the students awarded it this year: Hannah Alexander, Tyler Blair, Scarlett Ford, Jackson Foster, Stephen Heaton, Blake Jordan, Rebekah Pearson, Caden Philley, Katherine Prince, and Leah Varnell. This award is given to our highest achieving REL majors and Judaic Studies minors; looking back, we’re so very pleased to see how many students have benefited over the past two decades from the financial assistance provided by this kind gift to the Department. This year’s recipients can see Prof. Newton beginning Friday to pick up their letters and to learn what they will receive as part of this honor. Continue reading

Congrats to Our M.A. Graduates

Graduation picture of students from the 1930sIt’s certainly been an odd end to the Spring 2020 semester, what with universities across the country and around the world moving to remote instruction; that means that there was an abrupt end to meeting in-person with classes, so we’ve not had our Honors Day, when we traditionally recognize our students’ accomplishments.

Although we posted an Honors Day video, in place of our longstanding tradition of meeting together on the balcony, we’d also like to highlight the fine work carried out by our current class of graduating M.A. students, the third group that has graduated from the degree. Continue reading

Going Remote

Video-conference call scene from the movie 2001: A Space OdysseyIt’s surely not news to anyone that we’ve gone remote, taking all REL courses online as part of our effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The University of Alabama, like so many schools nation-wide (let alone throughout the world) continues on what we call limited business operations (LBO), with academic offices closed, in-person classes suspended, students gone from the residences, and only essential employees still working on campus. (Get info on UA’s response to the pandemic.) But classes continue, thanks to a some technologies that we’ve been using. Continue reading

Upcoming REL Events Canceled

Canceled Sign in an airport

With Spring break right around the corner, during which little might be taking place on campus, but happening just as the nation-wide spread of the COVID-19 virus shows no signs of slowing down, we felt that it was necessary to be proactive and to think ahead a little, so that REL students, faculty, and staff know that at least a few things are settled for the coming weeks.

Because the experts continue to tell us that not only regular hand-washing, etc. but also maintaining a strategic social distance are crucial elements to curtailing the spread of the illness — going so far as to advise against attending unnecessary large events or engaging in unnecessary travel  — we thought it wise to just go ahead now and cancel some of our upcoming events:

– The 18th annual Aronov Lecture, on April 6, with our guest lecturer coming to Alabama from New York, has been canceled and is being rescheduled for the Fall semester.

– The 7th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on March 26 is canceled.

– The 19th annual REL Honors Day reception on the balcony, on Apr. 3, is also cancelled; instead, award winners will have letters sent to them in the coming weeks.

In part because we are currently unsure what the University will be doing in the coming weeks, it pains us to send out this news now; but, ensuring that our students, staff, and faculty stay healthy and also stay informed are among our highest priorities.

Be well during the Spring break and stay in touch with UA news in case an announcement is made concerning post-Spring break classes.

Call for Submissions: Alum Liaison Committee Award

Old typewriter keys

Are you a student in an REL class this year (whether or not you;re a major or minor in our Department) who is game to write approx. 500 words on:

  • How you found the study of religion at UA
  • Aspects of the field that you found surprising
  • Unexpected ways in which you might apply what you’ve learned

If so, then our Alum Liaison Committee, comprised of four REL grads,
wants to hear from you!

Annually, at the Department’s Honors Day ceremony, the members of the Alum Liaison Committee award a small number of prizes to the essays that they found most interesting, surprising, or even compelling.

Get more details on the award and consider applying.
Deadline: March 1, 2020.

Submissions should be sent to Prof. Vaia Touna (who will then share them with the committee); they must also contain:

  • The student’s name, CWID, and email address
  • The student’s College (A&S, Business, Nursing, Social Work, Engineering, etc.) as well as their Major/Minor
  • The REL course/section in which the student was/is enrolled and its year/semester
  • The student’s status (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior) at the time of their submission

Be creative!

A Call for Nominations

The four inaugural alum recognotion award winners in 2019Last year we created a new award, given out at Honors Day 2019 for the first time: the Alum Recognition Award. It acknowledges the ongoing contributions to the Department that our graduates continue to make and/or the interesting challenges they tackle and notable accomplishment they make in their chosen professions and lives. All B.A. majors and minors who have graduated from the Department of Religious Studies, as well as those who have completed the REL M.A., are eligible to be considered.

Based on annual nominations the REL faculty determines each year’s recipient(s).

If awardees are able to attend, the awards are given out at Honors Day each year (this year: Friday, April 3, 2020); otherwise, awards will be mailed. (Pictured above: our four inaugural recipients, at Honors Day 2019, all members of our Alum Liaison Committee).

So, this is a call for nominations.

Each nomination letter must be no more than two single-spaced pages in length; letters must note when the nominee graduated from the University of Alabama, their degree, as well as their major(s) and minor(s). The letter will draw our attention to the alum’s professional and/or personal accomplishments since leaving UA, where possible paying special attention to the ways in which their training and time in our Department has been used by them since leaving Manly Hall. Finally, those writing letters should alert the nominee of their nomination.

No self-nominations, please.

Signed letters of nomination should be sent to Dr. Vaia Touna, either in hard copy, c/o The Department of Religious Studies, 212 Manly Hall, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487-0264, or as file attached emails.

Deadline: All nominations must be received by the end of the business day on Friday, February 28, 2020.

Recipients will be notified in early March 2020. And, whether nominated or not, we always welcome alums to join us again for our annual Honors Day reception on the balcony.

We look forward to receiving your nominations.

Honors Day 2019 in Photos

Last Friday, the Department of Religious Studies hosted its annual Honor’s Day reception on the second-floor balcony of Manly Hall. Friends and family traveled in from around the state (and nation) to celebrate award recipients. The agreeable weather, tasty food, and great company made for an ideal day to celebrate the hard work of faculty and students over the last year.

Earlier in the week office workers and groundskeepers broke out the zip-ties to hang every Silverstein banner (between 2002 and 2019). Many of the guests who were majors in the Department before graduating could find their own names listed on the railings. Current MA student, Sierra Lawson, and REL Senior, Ellie Cochran stand behind one of these banners to chat as they grab lunch catered by the Cypress Inn.

Continue reading

A Look Back on 2018-2019

Yes, it’s Honors Day again!

And what better time is there to look back on another great year in REL — from a busy student association, some wonderful B.A. students, and faculty who all go the extra mile, to grad students successfully using Manly Hall as a springboard
to bigger and better things…

Highlights from 2018-19 from UA Religious Studies on Vimeo.

See you on the balcony around 12:00 noon, for some awards,
some food, and a few surprises.

Thanks to Ellie Cochran for the slide show