The Newest Professor in the Religion Department
Professor Mary Wilson-Lyons has Birmingham-Southern running through her veins. Reared in Boaz, Alabama, Wilson-Lyons not only attended BSC for her undergrad, but her parents also met while playing pool in the food service we now call The Attic. Funnily enough, the first day of freshman year she moved into the same Cullen dorm room that her father had lived in during his first semesters. She fondly remembers back to her days of studying and early morning cramming in the old coffee shop where her parents met.
Before Professor Wilson-Lyons graduated with a degree in Religion, she was on the pre-med track and headed for medical school. Wilson-Lyons’ plans changed in her senior year when she took a religion class with Dr. Cottrill.
“The way that she taught Scripture,” recalls Wilson-Lyons, “was brilliant and opened worlds for me that I had never thought of.”
She then decided the medical life was not for and that she instead wanted to spend the rest of her life studying Scripture. Following her graduation, Professor Wilson-Lyons spent a year in Hungary teaching English to high school students before she returned to the States to attend Emory University in Atlanta for Divinity School. She then married a Methodist Minister whose work brought them to a church in Birmingham and Wilson-Lyons back to Birmingham-Southern.
Wilson-Lyons’ tall white bookshelf is full of books from her old classes, including the first English class she ever took, taught by Dr. Tatter. This semester, Wilson-Lyons is teaching Christian Scriptures, Religion and International Relations, and a Comparative Ethics Honors class, all of which she calls “fun classes.” She loves seeing a student have an “aha moment” in an environment where “you can learn something new each day.” To Professor Wilson-Lyons, studying and interpreting biblical scripture is one of the “most profound things you can learn how to do.”
In addition to teaching and caring for her family, Professor Wilson-Lyons is involved in her local community theater. She has been in productions of Rabbit Hole and Les Misérables, and has participated in theatre competitions where BSC’s own Alan Litsey was a judge. Wilson-Lyons also has a history preventing poverty issues in Birmingham and worked for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham for five years before teaching at Birmingham Southern.
Even though her alma mater has changed significantly since her time at BSC, Professor Wilson-Lyons is thrilled to be back at the college that inspired her career, and we are delighted to have her.
Feature photo courtesy of Mary Wilson-Lyons.