BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Conrad E. “Ozzie” Ostwalt has been named interim director of Appalachian State University’s Center for Appalachian Studies and the Appalachian studies academic program, both housed in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). He assumed his new role July 1.
CAS Dean Neva J. Specht said, “Ozzie brings previous leadership experience, having served as chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion for 10 years, as well as being a former coordinator for the Honors College from 1999–2004. His own teaching and research on Appalachian religion make him familiar with many of the issues the center showcases.”
Ostwalt, who has been involved with the Appalachian studies program since he came to Appalachian in 1988, said, “I am honored to join the center in this official capacity. Through the years, our Appalachian studies program and center have been served by some of the most beloved and well-known faculty members at our university, and I am excited now to work closely with an extremely talented group of current Appalachian studies faculty.”
About Dr. Conrad E. Ostwalt
Ostwalt, a professor of religious studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, earned a B.A. in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University.
He spent one year teaching at Lafayette College before joining the faculty at Appalachian. In addition, he previously served as the executive director for the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion from 2005–09.
His research interests include religion and popular culture in America and Appalachia, as well as religious movements, groups and attitudes in Appalachia. He has published five academic books on religion and culture, as well as dozens of articles, including his most recent — an article on Appalachian writer and associate professor Mark Powell for the Appalachian Journal (Vol. 46, Nos. 3-4), an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed quarterly housed at Appalachian.
His 1998 book, “Love Valley: An American Utopia,” chronicles the history of an intentional community in North Carolina and won the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award and the Ethel W. Twiford Religious History Book Award. Currently, Ostwalt is working on an article about meditation and holistic medicine retreat centers in Appalachia.
Over the past five years, Ostwalt has hosted more than 100 episodes of the AppTV show “Religion in Life”, a weekly show now in its 11th season that explores how faith and spirituality play an integral part in the world today. In 2019, he won the Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Award in the category of Television and Cable Interview for his interview with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.
In his new role, Ostwalt replaces Tom Hansell, who served as interim director of the Center for Appalachian Studies during the 2019–20 academic year. Hansell is a documentary filmmaker and author who teaches Appalachian studies and documentary studies at Appalachian.
Hansell will be returning to his teaching and documentary film scholarship this fall.
Dr. Julie Shepherd-Powell, assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, serves as director of Appalachian’s Master of Arts in Appalachian studies program.
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About the Center for Appalachian Studies
The Center for Appalachian Studies promotes public programs, community collaboration, civic engagement and scholarship on the Appalachian region. The center is committed to building healthy communities and deepening knowledge of Appalachia’s past, present and future through community-based research and engagement. Learn more at https://appcenter.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.