First-Ever University Chair Endowed for Study of Atheism

The nation’s first university chair for the study of atheism, humanism, and secular ethics is being created at the University of Miami. The post is made possible by a $2.2 million donation from businessman Louis Appignani, who for years has been an active supporter of atheist and humanist groups in the United States.

According to the New York Times the position might have been created earlier, but there were hesitations on the university’s part in creating a chair that had “atheism” in the title. To Appignani, that detail was not negotiable “I’m trying to eliminate discrimination against atheists,” said Appignani. (Full disclosure: Appignani is also the primary benefactor of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, this author’s workplace.) 

The university is creating a committee of faculty members to search for a scholar to fill the seat. Not surprisingly, the secular community responded positively to the news. Richard Dawkins called it a “bold step.” With religious studies found in universities all over the country and the world, many see an academic seat for atheism as long overdue. The full story from the Times is here.