UA Board of Trustees name UA professor as distinguished research professor

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UA Board of Trustees name UA professor as distinguished research professor

CW File

Rylie Curry

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Russell McCutcheon, the chair of the religious studies department, was recently named a Distinguished Research Professor by the UA Board of Trustees. 

The recognition is one of the University’s most significant awards and has been received by fewer than 10 faculty members throughout the University’s history. The title is given to those faculty members who have attained international success with their work, often conducting world-renowned research while receiving thorough recognition from the most influential individuals in their field of study.

“It’s a very humbling moment to have the people you work with express such confidence in the work you’ve done,” McCutcheon said. “We all work in our offices, teach our courses, each do our own individual little thing and every now and then it’s a surprise to sometimes find that people notice it. It’s just a wonderful compliment.”

McCutcheon first began working for the University as the department chair for the religious studies department in 2001 and has held the position for 13 years.

“His leadership in the Department of Religious Studies, of which he has been chair for nearly 13 years, has brought tremendous distinction to UA’s program, placing it among the best in the nation,” said Robert Olin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

McCutcheon has written several books that have received international recognition, with more set to be released this summer. He has worked as an editor on other works, published multiple articles and compiled essay collections. Because of his international success, McCutcheon’s work has been translated into several languages and is highly regarded around the world. 

Additionally, McCutcheon has served on multiple advisory boards, societies and was appointed to a position in his field’s primary professional association.

“While his impact is certainly felt through his scholarship, he takes equal care with his students, challenging them to think critically and leverage their education in the humanities to tackle real-world problems,” Olin said. “This is no small feat in a time when the value of humanities degrees is too often in question. Russ confronts this challenge head-on, and his students have reaped the benefits, going on to productive careers in teaching, business, higher education, and more.”

Despite all he has accomplished, McCutcheon has a multitude of things he plans to complete in the future. 

“Like all faculty on campus I’ve got a whole bunch of little pots bubbling away on the stove,” McCutcheon said. “Some are bubbling furiously, some are just a little boil on the back burner. There’s a variety of books that I have to produce. In the next two or three years I hope to finish three or four projects.”