Merinda Simmons

Office Hours provides an opportunity to introduce UA students, family and friends to the outstanding men and women who work at The University of Alabama and work tirelessly to provide each student with a great experience at the Capstone.

This edition introduces Dr. Merinda Simmons, an associate professor in Religious Studies.

Name: Merinda Simmons

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Job Title: Associate Professor

Alma Mater: The University of Alabama (Masters and doctorate degrees)

When I’m on campus, I… enjoy having coffee with colleagues and talking about ideas and work that they are doing. I am a Safe Zone ally trainer, so I lead workshops for the program. I have recently given a couple of talks to classes from other departments about the campus’ rich civil rights history. I also enjoy attending the religious studies organization events. When I am not busy doing all of that, I enjoy spending time at my computer writing.

During my time at UA, I’m most proud of… the fact that I chair a committee that wrote a proposal for a master’s program in religious studies that will start in the fall of 2017. It is going to be an interesting and important blend of social theory and digital and public humanities that will help prepare our grad students for lots of different employment opportunities. I would also say that I have a very deep pedagogical pride that comes from teaching my large enrollment introduction to religious studies classes. I get to have conversations with students from many different kinds of backgrounds and because this class is in many ways an introduction to critical thinking class I get to start watching them make the shift where they start thinking about things critically.

The one UA experience I will always remember will be… the commemoration of the Foster auditorium, the Malone Hood Plaza, and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower. Having the opportunity to be here while we commemorated that space and while the administration worked to try and figure out how it wanted to represent itself in the face of its own past has been very fruitful for me pedagogically and analytically. It was a neat thing to get to be a part of. I will always remember sitting inside of Foster auditorium listening to Autherine Lucy and James Hood speak and just being able to share space with them.

My favorite spot on campus is…Woods Quad. The very first meeting that I had when I came here for grad school was with a professor who had this office. I was standing on the balcony just looking over Woods Quad, which was then just this really cool green space with all kinds of pretty trees, and the professor walked up the stairs and said, “Isn’t it beautiful”. Everything that represented higher education and life of the mind and all of these things that meant so much to me came to life, to me it was like seeing where academia lives. Now he is retired and I’m in his office where I had my very first graduate interview and where I will soon be interviewing students for our graduate program. It was very affirming.

To contact Merinda Simmons, shoot her an email at merinda.simmons@ua.edu or give her a call at 205-348-9911. You can also find her in her office in Manly Hall 300.