USC Makes Historic Appointment of Hindu as Dean of Religious Life

May 16, 2008

Author: University of Southern California, Press Release

Source: Fox Business News/PR Newswire

The University of Southern California has named religious leader and scholar Varun Soni as Dean of Religious Life, marking the first appointment of a member of the Hindu faith as primary spiritual leader of an American university.

Soni, whose appointment at USC is effective July 1, is a lawyer and religious scholar. He previously taught in the Law and Society Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

USC Provost C. L. Max Nikias announced the appointment today on behalf of university President Steven B. Sample.

"In addition to his outstanding academic credentials and experience, Dean Soni brings a broad and impressive range of life experience," said Nikias. "Dean Soni will bring together the spiritual and scholarly resources of the university, provide moral and ethical leadership for the USC community, and work closely with the 70 student religious groups and the 35 Religious Directors on campus."

Soni holds a bachelor's degree in religion from Tufts University, a master's degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University, a master's degree in comparative religion from UCSB, and a juris doctor degree from UCLA. He is currently completing a Ph.D. degree in Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town. Soni is a member of the State Bar of California.