Leadership Council Member Spotlight
Dr. Arthur Merkle, geology ’79, is a longtime COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council member and dentist in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. He said he joined the council at the encouragement of fellow member Herb Martin, geology ’79, and Bob Cook, professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography.
“Herb and I wanted to get on board (the Leadership Council) to promote Geology and Geography and to try to help elevate its status through a voice on the council and by contributing financially to our department,” said Merkle. “We have been able to start some scholarships and a professorship for the department. Next on the agenda is trying to establish a home for the department. Geology and Geography is housed in several locations around campus. We would like to assemble all our parts in a common location, possibly near the existing math and science complex.”
“Auburn gave me scholarships that allowed me to become part of the Auburn Family. I felt I should give back,” Merkle said. “Hopefully that will encourage students and graduates to do the same.”
When asked about COSAM’s greatest strengths, Merkle said he believes the answer lies in the college’s ability to prepare students for the future, among other things.
“The fact that COSAM is responsible for educating future leaders in the healthcare industry and the energy industry, and has proven successful in this responsibility, is one of its greatest strengths. Also, COSAM’s involvement in research is incredible,” said Merkle. “The attention paid to outreach by COSAM is another strength that must be mentioned. I am also proud of the fact that COSAM and the Leadership Council have been successful in teaching students and graduates about the importance of giving back to Auburn.”
He and his wife, Carol, who is an endodontist, have their own practice, Merkle, Merkle and Associates. The couple met and started dating while they were freshmen at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry, and they married during the summer between their freshman and sophomore years of dental school. They have a son, R. Andrew Merkle, who graduated from Auburn with a degree from the College of Architecture, Design and Construction. In addition to their son, they have two nephews who graduated from Auburn, one in COSAM and one in the College of Agriculture.
“I convinced my son when he was young that boys say, ‘War Eagle!’ and girls say, ‘Roll Tide!’ - my wife is a graduate of that other school,” said Merkle. “My nephews were a little harder to turn from the dark side, but my son helped convince them.”
In his spare time Merkle said he enjoys riding his bike, wake surfing or wake boarding in the summer, snowboarding in the winter, and doing yard work as a “mind soothing” distraction. He and his wife also enjoy hiking in Idaho and Wyoming.