Biography of Dean Chester Gillis

Dean Chester Gillis served as interim dean of Georgetown College during 2008–09 and was appointed dean in April 2009. He was the initial holder of the Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies and was the founding director of the Program on the Church and Interreligious Dialogue in the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University. He holds degrees in philosophy and religious studies from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.


Dean Gillis’s research interests include comparative religion and contemporary Roman Catholicism. He is the author of A Question of Final Belief: John Hick’s Pluralistic Theory of Salvation (1989), Pluralism: A New Paradigm for Theology (1993), Roman Catholicism in America, Catholic Faith in America (2003), as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. He is the editor of The Political Papacy (2006) and the co-editor of the Columbia University Press series Religion and Politics.


Dean Gillis served as chair of the Department of Theology from 2001 to 2006, the core faculty of the Liberal Studies Program from 1998 to 2008, and director of the Doctorate of Liberal Studies Program from 2006 to 2008. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Liberal Studies Program at Georgetown in 2005 and served on the editorial board of Confluence: Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies. He also served on the executive faculty at Georgetown and is a member of the Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu.

He has chaired the Arts and Humanities Committee for the Heinz Awards and served on the selection committee for The Louisville Institute’s grants. He chaired the national Teaching Award Committee for the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies. He is a member of the American Theological Society, and served on the Academic Relations Task Force of the American Academy of Religion. He is on the board of directors of the Center for Applied Research in Apostolate.

Frequently consulted by the media about contemporary issues in religion, in particular, Roman Catholicism and the Papacy, Dean Gillis has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg News/TV, Face the Nation, Meet the Press, The News Hour, Good Morning America, Nightline, Wall Street Journal Life, and has been interviewed by National Public Radio, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He has been a contributor to The Washington Post/Newsweek website “On Faith.”


He is married to Marie Varley Gillis. Their daughter, Alison, graduated from Georgetown College in 2008 and from Georgetown Law Center in 2012.