Dean of Religious life

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ouzhantekin

Senior Member
Turkish - Standard
Hi,

I was reading through VOA SPecial English website and stumbled upon this term: "dean of religious life" and got a little bit confused. Well, the text is about colleges (in the US) and the college students expressing and living their own religions. And there is thing this called "religious life" (apart from having an abstract meaning, I feel like it is something like a religious center) and there is the dean of it. I searched for other meanings of the word "dean" and found one as "the leading person in a religious group, archpriest. The only dean I know was at the university, at the head of my department so this is totally news for me.

Should I interpret this "dean" as the principal or the head of an organization or do I have to interpret this as "the archpriest" of religious life.

One last thing: Is this "religious life" really a center at every university in the US or is this only my misunderstanding? Because, as far as I know, we don't have religious centers in Turkey.

Here's an excerpt from the text I mentioned:

"...Varun Soni works as dean of religious life at the University of Southern California. He says many students keep religion on their own terms.

VARUN SONI: “They’re more interested, I find, in making religion work for them as opposed to working for it. So they interpret their religious and spiritual traditions in a way that makes sense for them.”

Scotty McLennan is dean for religious life at Stanford University in California. He is also seeing a new openness.

SCOTTY MCLENNAN: “I think the most exciting thing that’s happening is that students really are learning how to listen to each other across traditions, and they really are getting more interested in that kind of empathetic listening and presence to each other, hearing each others’ stories.”
..."

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Whereas such a post might exist at a private, religious college in the U.S., it certainly is not common, nor necessarily connected with the college itself and where public universities are concerned, it would not exist as a publicly funded post at all.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Here's the website for Stanford's Office for Religious Life. It's not something I would expect to find at every university. I think it's just the department that coordinates the various religious groups and activities one finds at any large university.

    The head is called a "dean" because that's what we call the heads of things at universities in the US, meaning it's an administrative level job, not a teaching sort of job. Nothing to do with the (chieflly British, I think) use of "dean" in a religious context.

    Edit: I have a rare disagreement with sdgraham here, particularly given the reference above to the one at Southern Cal. It's not a particular religion being promoted; it's more of a "coordination of lots of different groups with similar goals who may all want to use the auditorium on the same day" sort of thing.
     

    ouzhantekin

    Senior Member
    Turkish - Standard
    Whereas such a post might exist at a private, religious college in the U.S., it certainly is not common, nor necessarily connected with the college itself and where public universities are concerned, it would not exist as a publicly funded post at all.
    So it might exist but it is not a must. I got that, thanks. So what about my question? Is that person a religious leader or just the head of the organization or the office? Because just a second ago I also I saw the term "associate dean". Shall I take it just like the "dean of a faculty at a college" or something else?

    Thanks
     

    ouzhantekin

    Senior Member
    Turkish - Standard
    Here's the website for Stanford's Office for Religious Life. It's not something I would expect to find at every university. I think it's just the department that coordinates the various religious groups and activities one finds at any large university.

    The head is called a "dean" because that's what we call the heads of things at universities in the US, meaning it's an administrative level job, not a teaching sort of job. Nothing to do with the (chieflly British, I think) use of "dean" in a religious context.

    Edit: I have a rare disagreement with sdgraham here, particularly given the reference above to the one at Southern Cal. It's not a particular religion being promoted; it's more of a "coordination of lots of different groups with similar goals who may all want to use the auditorium on the same day" sort of thing.
    OK, thats quite nice :) . So it is just because he/she is the head of an office at an administrative level that the term "dean" is used. It has nothing to do with the religious side of the word.
     
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