A Passion for Always Learning


Before entering academia, Dr. Eric Merriam studied law at The University of Virginia School of Law. After earning his J.D., he became an associate attorney at the international law firm K&L Gates LLP. Dr. Merriam also earned his LL.M. at The George Washington University specializing in National Security Law and U.S. Foreign Relations. “Having a destination and knowing where you want to end was my ultimate goal,” he said, and with this mentality, he found the inspiration and dedication to further his career.

Utilizing his expertise in law, he had the honor of becoming a judge advocate officer for the United States Air Force, garnering many military awards. Being a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for many years supplied the demand to handle a wide range of legal issues to the highest regard. As a result, Dr. Merriam went on to be an assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy teaching courses in national security law, constitutional law, and law for Air Force officers. There he received multiple awards including, The Outstanding Academy Educator Award and the Air Force-wide Thomas P. Keenan, Jr. Award for the “most outstanding contribution to the developments of international and military operations law.” Having a law background to and teaching in the Air Force, Dr. Merriam now shares his expertise and admiration for educating to students at UCF.

With such a determination to succeed, Dr. Merriam holds a strong philosophy that studying a subject you’re passionate about will result in excellence. He states, “Find something in life you actually love.” As an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Political Science and Legal Studies department, he currently teaches courses in constitutional law along with law and society. In addition to teaching he also conducts research, focusing on areas of national security law and constitutional law. He is working on new research and is in the process of co-authoring, In A Time of Total War: The Federal Judiciary and National Defense, 1940-1954. The book is a detailed study of the judiciary during World War II and the early Cold War focusing on the evolving relationships between the Supreme Court Justices and the executive/military establishments.

When asked if there are any words that best describe him, he shared words he has lived by, “Always Learning.” Always learning is what drives him in his professional and personal life. In teaching, he finds a challenge in educating his students on unique ways to think about law accompanied by new experiences. Students who have no direct experience with law are able to have a new perspective, which he considers the most rewarding part of his job, he says, “Seeing students gain a new angle on law and comprehend it to the fullest is a reward itself for a teacher.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Merriam has developed a passion for learning and teaching. “Excellence in anything,” he says is his biggest source of inspiration that could be shared in any profession. His drive has now brought him to UCF and we are happy to welcome him. His final advice to future students, “There is no substitute for the hard work in life. Choose to do things that you’re interested in and follow your passion.”

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