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Messages to the Georgetown Community

Appointment of Dr. Chester L. Gillis as Dean of the College

April 14, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is with great pleasure that I write to announce that, in close consultation with Provost James J. O’Donnell, I have appointed Interim Dean Chester L. Gillis as Dean of the College.  This transition is effective immediately.  As you know, Dean Gillis assumed the role of Interim Dean of the College upon the departure of Jane Dammen McAuliffe last summer, and he has served as the Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies in the Department of Theology and is the founding director of the “Program on the Church and Interreligious Dialogue” within the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. 

Dean Gillis has been a member of the Georgetown faculty since 1988, and served as Chair of the Department of Theology from 2001 to 2006 and Director of the Doctor of Liberal Studies program from 2006 to 2008.  As a Professor, Dean Gillis has had the opportunity to come to know a broad cross-section of our undergraduate community teaching such courses as “Problem of God” and “Catholicism and Society.”  Dean Gillis received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Liberal Studies Program in 2005, and this year he is the faculty mentor for the Berkley Center Undergraduate Fellows Program.  I know that his deep experience as a professor and a mentor will be invaluable as Dean Gillis transitions into this new role.  He has a strong record of experience in undergraduate education and a deep commitment to providing an outstanding Georgetown education for our College students and support for faculty scholarship.  During the past year, Dean Gillis has demonstrated an innovative vision for the future of the College that honors our foundation of intellectual rigor, global reach, and dedication to service.

Dean Gillis’ research interests include comparative religion and contemporary Roman Catholicism. A member of the American Theological Society, he serves on the Academic Relations Task Force of the American Academy of Religion, and is a contributor to the Washington Post/Newsweek website On Faith.  An expert on the U.S. Catholic Church, the history of Catholicism, and the papacy, Dean Gillis has a deep commitment to advancing interfaith dialogue.

I am grateful to the search committee, led by Professor John R. McNeill, for its commitment to determining the very best leader in undergraduate education for the College.  We will have a number of opportunities to celebrate Dean Gillis’ accomplishments and his new role in the months ahead.  I very much look forward to our continued work together and the dynamic leadership he will bring to the College. 

You have my very best wishes.


John J. DeGioia
Georgetown University

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