About the Sam Hill Lecture Series

Audience at a Sam Hill lecture

The Sam Hill Lecture in Southern Religion is an endeavor of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Asheville designed to bring distinguished scholars in the field of southern religious studies to campus on an annual basis, both to meet with students and to offer a lecture accessible to the general public. Past presenters include:

  • Samuel S. Hill, Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, “Tell About the South: Why Are They So Religious?” (2009)
  • Bill J. Leonard, Dean of the Divinity School, Wake Forest University, “Looking for Religious Appalachia: Mass Culture, Lost Mountains, and Vanishing Traditions” (2010)
  • Marcie Cohen Ferris, Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of Southern Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South” (2011)
  • Carolyn Jones Medine, Professor of Religion and African American Studies, University of Georgia, "On Being a Black, Baptist, and Buddhist in the South: The Writings of Jan Willis" (2012)
  • Arthur Remillard, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Saint Francis University, "Religion, Race, and Boxing in the New South" (2013)
  • Dr. Dianne Stewart, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Emory University, "Crossing the Color Line: Tracing Burdens of Religious “Difference” from Africa to Appalachia" (2015)

About Dr. Samuel S. Hill

Dr. Samuel S. Hill

Dr. Samuel S. (Sam) Hill has been a student and scholar of Southern religion his entire life. Born in Virginia, raised in Kentucky, and educated at Georgetown College, Vanderbilt, and Duke University, Sam was one of the “founding fathers” of the study of Southern religious history.  His book, Southern Churches in Crisis, which originally appeared in 1966, has long been enshrined as a classic in the field.  During a long and distinguished career at the University of Florida, Sam continued to promote the scholarly study of religion in the South both in his own books and articles and as the editor of such indispensable reference works as the Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (2nd ed. 2005) and the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 1: Religion (2006).  As a teacher, Sam nurtured multiple generations of young scholars, both those who were enrolled in his courses as well as those at other institutions who looked to him for wisdom and guidance. Always gracious and with a full sense of humor, Sam epitomizes the designation of being a true “Southern Gentleman.”

Although Sam spent most of his career at the University of Florida, he has many roots in North Carolina.  In addition to earning his Ph.D. at Duke University, he joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as one of the first members of the Department of Religion there.  And after many years of “summering” in western North Carolina, he and his wife Helen moved to Black Mountain after his retirement where they still own a home. Even in “retirement,” however, Sam continues to remain active as a public speaker and a public scholar. The Sam Hill Lecture series not only honors Sam’s many contributions to academia, but celebrates the numerous and varied achievements of one of North Carolina’s “almost” native sons.