Religious Studies and Classics Faculty Promoted

May 5th, 2023

Four professors in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics have been promoted, demonstrating excellent performance in teaching, service and research.


Dr. Rae Dachille is promoted from Assistant Professor to tenured Associate Professor; Dr. Arum Park is promoted from Assistant Professor to tenured Associate Professor; Dr. Caleb Simmons is promoted from tenured Associate Professor to tenured Professor; and Dr. Kristy Slominski is promoted from Assistant Professor to tenured Associate Professor.


Dr. Dachille, who is jointly appointed in the Department of East Asian Studies, received her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and specializes in the religious and artistic traditions of Himalayan Buddhism.


Her research focuses upon representations of the body in art, ritual, philosophy, and medicine in Tibetan and Sanskrit sources. Dr. Dachille’s book, Searching for the Body: A Contemporary Perspective on Tibetan Buddhist Tantra (Columbia University Press), explores a heated scholastic exchange between two prominent fifteenth-century Tibetan monks on a ritual practice known as body mandala. The book demonstrates the value of reading esoteric sources in relationship to broader conversations on embodiment occurring across and beyond the humanities today.


Dr. Dachille’s work reflects her enduring interest in revealing the many ways in which Buddhist sources may enrich our approach to studying the body as well as to formulating new theories of representation. She continues to develop new curricula focused on gender, ritual and representation in the visual, textual and performative cultures of South Asia and the Himalaya. She currently teaches courses on Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist art, Buddhism and Healing, Tantric Buddhism, and theories and methods for the study of religion. Dr. Dachille is an affiliate faculty member in Gender and Women's Studies as well as in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory.



Dr. Park received her Ph.D. and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been at the University of Arizona since 2015. She has published articles and book chapters on Archaic and Classical Greek poetry, the ancient Greek Novel, and Augustan poetry, as well as public-facing pieces on #metoo in ancient Greco-Roman literature, race and diversity in Classics, and Classical reception. Her interests include gender, truth, pastoralism, intertextuality, and race and ethnicity in ancient Greek and Roman literature, and she regularly teaches courses in ancient Greek language, literature, and mythology. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she currently co-chairs the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus.



Dr. Simmons, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida, is also Executive Director of Arizona Online and the Faculty Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.


He specializes in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism, and digital and online learning. He has recently been named a Center for University Education Scholarship (CUES) Distinguished Fellow for his research on online pedagogy. His Religious Studies research spans religion and state-formation in medieval and colonial India to contemporary transnational aspects of Hinduism.


His book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines how the late early modern/early colonial court of Mysore reenvisioned notions of kingship, territory, and religion, especially its articulations through devotion. His second monograph, Singing the Goddess into Place: Locality, Myth, and Social Change in Chamundi of the Hill, a Kannada Folk Ballad (SUNY Press 2022), examines popular local folksongs that engage the mythology of Mysore's Chamundeshwari and her consort Nanjundeshwara to critique social inequalities. He also edited (with Moumita Sen and Hillary Rodrigues) and contributed to Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navarātri Festival in South Asia (SUNY Press 2018) a collected volume that focuses on various aspects of the important festival of Navaratri.


He also has publications and continuing research interests related to a broad range of contemporary topics, including ecological issues and sacred geography in India; South Asian diaspora communities; and material and popular cultures that arise as a result of globalization—especially South Asian religions as portrayed in comic books and graphic novels. He teaches courses on Hinduism, Indian religions, and method and theory of Religious Studies. He formerly served as the Book Review editor for Religion (Routledge) and is a member of the Administrative Committee as well as the website/listserv manager for the American Academy of Religion South Asia Religions Unit.



Dr. Slominski received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and specializes in the interactions of religions, science, and health in U.S. history as well as the intersections of U.S. religions and sexuality, with a focus on sexual health education. She is a faculty member within her department's Bachelor's of Science degree in Religious Studies for Health Professionals, where she teaches courses on religion and health (RELI 303 and RELI 406/506), religion and science (RELI/PHIL 326), religion and sexuality (RELI 363), and world religions (RELI 160D4).


She was awarded the inaugural Dorrance Dean's Award for Research and Entrepreneurialism for her project to develop "Health Humanities Training in Religion and Culture" for medical and nursing students. She is the Co-Director, along with Dr. Alison Jameson, of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture.


Her first book, Teaching Moral Sex: A History of Religion and Sex Education in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2021), examines religious contributions to public sex education from the late nineteenth century to the present, especially around issues of sexually transmitted diseases. Slominski previously served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and she was a member of its Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Committee. She is currently a co-chair of the AAR's Religions, Medicines, and Healing unit. She is also on the leadership team for Religion, Health, and Humanities Researchers (RHHR), a new global network of scholars interested in the medical and health humanities with a focus on spirituality and religion.