Trinity College appoints Professor Kevin Lewis O’Neill as dean of arts & vice-provost

April 25, 2024 by Trinity College

Trinity College is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Kevin Lewis O’Neill to the position of dean of arts & vice-provost, effective July 1, 2024.

“We are thrilled to have Kevin O’Neill join Trinity College in this vital academic and administrative leadership role. An experienced administrator, pioneering scholar and outstanding teacher, Professor O’Neill’s breadth of experience, student-focused approach, and ability to seek new opportunities will help to position the college for an even brighter future,” said Professor Mayo Moran, provost & vice-chancellor of Trinity College.

“I am excited to work with the provost, faculty, fellows, staff, student leaders, and others to nourish and grow this unique community in the years to come,” O’Neill said. “My hope is that I will be able to build on the strengths of Trinity College to expand its cross-generational footprint and impact, and to support students in discovering themselves and their future career paths.”

A cultural anthropologist, O’Neill is professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and currently the director of the Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies -- — both in in the Faculty of Arts & Science. His work focuses on the intersection of religion, culture and politics. An award-winning author, his writing includes three single authored monographs and four edited volumes as well as a co-authored bilingual photography book. The recipient of a 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2023 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar, O’Neill just sent his fourth single authored monograph into production. It addresses clerical sexual abuse in Latin America. His teaching crosses a variety of disciplines, as exemplified in his popular course RLG106: Happiness

As Trinity College’s dean of arts, O’Neill will provide leadership for academic programs and advance the academic mission within the college, the Faculty of Arts & Science and the University of Toronto. He will oversee the college’s undergraduate academic and co-curricular programming, including the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, the college’s upper year programs offered in partnership with the Faculty of Arts & Science (Ethics, Society & Law and International Relations) and the Faculty of Medicine (Immunology), as well as Trinity’s academic sustainability programming — part of the Integrated Sustainability Initiative — in partnership with the School of the Environment. As vice-provost, the dean is responsible for formulating plans and policies, building research capacity across the institution and acting on behalf of the provost, as required. The dean of arts also represents the college in the wider academic community at the University of Toronto and contributes directly to the work of the Faculty of Arts & Science through membership on university committees.

“Congratulations to Professor O’Neill on being appointed dean of arts & vice-provost at Trinity College. A cultural anthropologist, Professor O’Neill has been recognized for his passion for teaching and innovative approach to the study of religion and politics. I look forward to working with him as he oversees Trinity College’s robust undergraduate academic programs,” said Melanie Woodin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science.

“On behalf of the college, I would like to thank members of the dean of arts search committee and the dean of arts review committee for their outstanding work,” Provost Moran said.

As the college welcomes O’Neill to the Trinity College community this summer, the current dean & vice-provost Michael Ratcliffe, professor in the Department of Immunology, will end his second and final term on June 30, 2024, closing an impressive 12-year tenure, which included 10 months as interim provost in 2013-14.

“Professor Ratcliffe has been a transformative leader at Trinity College, and it has been an honour to work with him. Among his many accomplishments, the increased strength of the college’s academic programs especially stands out. His ability to forge partnerships and realize opportunities brought excellence, strength and stability to our academic programs and outstanding faculty to the college,” Provost Moran added.

Kevin Lewis O’Neill: Biography

A cultural anthropologist, O’Neill’s work focuses on the moral dimensions of contemporary political practice in Latin America. O’Neill has written several books on the politics of Pentecostalism in Guatemala City — City of God (University of California Press, 2010), Secure the Soul (University of California Press, 2015) and Hunted (University of Chicago Press, 2019) as well as a bilingual photography book titled Art of Captivity / Arte del Cautiverio (University of Toronto Press, 2020) with Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela. His next book considers clerical sexual abuse in Latin America, with a focus on Roman Catholic priests who moved (or were moved) from the United States to Central America to evade suspicion and, at times, prosecution.

O’Neill completed his PhD and AM from Stanford University, MT from Harvard University, and BA from Fordham University. Prior to joining the University of Toronto in 2009, he was an Assistant Professor at Indiana University (Bloomington) and Visiting Professor and Lecturer at Universidad del Valle (Guatemala).