Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

Stephen Patterson assumes Atkinson Chair in Religious & Ethical Studies 

Patterson Lecture hall

On Friday, Sept. 23, Professor Stephen Patterson delivered his inaugural lecture as the newest chairholder of the College of Liberal Arts' George H. Atkinson Chair in Religious & Ethical Studies. His lecture, entitled, “Can Nag Hammadi Really Change Your Life?” examined the Nag Hammadi texts and the important role they are playing in how scholars view Christianity.

At the conclusion of his lecture, he expressed his appreciation to the Willamette community for welcoming him to the university. “Thank you for welcoming me into this wondrous community of teaching and learning,” he said.


The George H. Atkinson Chair in Religious and Ethical Studies, established in 1982, commemorates the legacy left behind by George H. Atkinson ’26, a respected businessman, devout Christian, and influential member of the Willamette community. The first George H. Atkinson chair holder was Professor Lane McGaughy, who held the chair for over 25 years.

Willamette currently has 21 endowed chairs and professorships in its undergraduate and graduate schools, all of which contribute richly to the academic excellence of the institution. Great teaching and scholarship lie at the heart of the Willamette experience, and endowed chairs and professorships are two of the best resources we have for preserving these assets.