AAR Names Dr. Claudia Schippert as Executive Director

The American Academy of Religion has selected Dr. Claudia Schippert, Associate Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at the University of Central Florida, to serve as its next Executive Director. Dr. Schippert will begin work on August 1, 2023, succeeding Dr. Alice W. Hunt, who is stepping down after completing her successful five-year term as AAR Executive Director.

Dr. Amir Hussain, President of the AAR, announced Dr. Schippert’s appointment. “We are privileged and delighted to be able to present Dr. Claudia Schippert as the next Executive Director of the American Academy of Religion. Their academic expertise, administrative experience in various settings, and commitment to the AAR for over a quarter-century make for an extraordinary combination. They are committed to strengthening the AAR, with all of the challenges in the present historical moment to the work of scholars and the public understanding of religion.”

Dr. Schippert earned their M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Temple University, and their B.A. from the University of Hamburg. In addition to their academic work on queer theory and religion in America, including contemporary Buddhism, Dr. Schippert served as Interim Director for the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies at UCF, and also directed both the Humanities and Cultural Studies Program, and the Religious Studies Program at the university. Dr. Schippert is also a Senior Dharma Teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen and founding President/Abbot of the Orlando Zen Center since 2015.

Dr. Schippert has served the AAR as co-chair of several program units and was elected last year to the Program Committee. “At this historical moment of sustained attacks on higher education, the academic study of religion has become critically important. When university leaders are silent in the face of political attacks on diversity and on academic freedom, we need the uncompromised advocacy of our professional association. When public understanding and political rhetorical use of religion shrinks to dangerously uninformed platitudes, we need the AAR’s collective expertise and strong public voice more than ever. The AAR is a space for scholars to collaborate, network, share scholarship, and collectively advocate for the study of religions. In that sense the AAR has been my professional home for decades and I am delighted to contribute to its important work as its next Executive Director,” stated Dr. Schippert.

The search for a new AAR Executive Director was facilitated by Ernest Brooks of Isaacson, Miller, and led by a Search Committee consisting of Dr. Jin Y. Park (chair), Dr. Amir Hussain, Dr. Dena Pence, Dr. Leela Prasad, Dr. Laurel Schneider, and Dr. Nikki Young. Dr. Schippert was the consensus selection of the search committee and was approved unanimously by the AAR Board of Directors. When Alice Hunt finishes her term on July 7, Nicholé Franklin, the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, will serve as the Acting Executive Director between July 8 and July 31.