Dr. J. Michael Utzinger

Elliott Professor of Religion, Hampden Sydney College

Moton Resident Scholar

[email protected]


Dr. J. Michael Utzinger is a resident scholar at the Robert Russa Moton Museum. He serves as the Elliott Professor of Religion and chair of the religion department at Hampden-Sydney College, where he regularly teaches courses in American religious history, alternative religions, and religion and ethnic identity. 

Utzinger has been at Hampden-Sydney since 2011 and joined the Moton team as a resident scholar in 2013. His research and teaching interests include modern American religion, particularly American evangelicalism, African American religion, and religion and the civil rights movement. He regularly participates in the college’s Western Culture program, and his most current research looks at religion’s connection to the rise of massive and passive resistance in Virginia.

While at Hampden-Sydney Dr. Utzinger received the 2010 Cabell Award for Excellence in Teaching. His 2013 article, entitled “The Tragedy of Prince Edward: The Religious Turn and the Destabilization of One Parish’s Resistance to Integration, 1963-1965” in Anglican and Episcopal History, was awarded the Nelson R. Burr Prize from the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, honoring excellence and innovative scholarship in the field of Anglican and Episcopal history. In 2015 he was awarded Hampden-Sydney’s Thomas Edward Crawley Award, presented to the faculty member with the most distinguished service to the college and its ideals. 

Professionally, Dr. Utzinger also pursues work in interfaith engagement. To this end, he has participated in local interfaith efforts, developed courses to help students understand the importance of student interfaith leadership in the context of American pluralism and participated in development seminars led by the Interfaith Youth Core. In 2018, he was also a panelist for the King in Virginia: Beloved Community Roundtable sponsored by the MLK Commission of the General Assembly of Virginia.

Dr. Utzinger earned a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Virginia in 2001, a master’s in divinity from Yale University in 1993 and a bachelor’s degree in theology from Valparaiso University in 1990.