Michele Dillon

Dean, COLA
Class of 1944 Professor of Sociology
Phone: (603) 862-2062
Office: COLA Dean's Office, Murkland Hall Rm 110, Durham, NH 03824

Michele Dillon, Ph.D., is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and the UNH Class of 1944 Professor of Sociology. Educated at University College Dublin and the University of California-Berkeley, her research focuses on autonomy and authority in the Catholic Church; moral politics; religion, spirituality and aging; and religion and cultural change. Her publications include Postsecular Catholicism: Relevance and Renewal (Oxford University Press, 2018); Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith, and Power (Cambridge University Press, 1999); American Catholics in Transition (co-authors W. D’Antonio & M. Gautier; Rowman & Littlefield, 2013); In the Course of a Lifetime: Tracing Religious Belief, Practice and Change (co-author Paul Wink; University of California Press, 2007) - named by Choice as an outstanding title of 2007; Debating Divorce: Moral Conflict in Ireland (University Press of Kentucky, 1993); Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (editor, Cambridge University Press, 2003); Introduction to Sociological Theory (Wiley-Blackwell, 3rd ed., 2020), Concise Reader in Sociological Theory (editor, Wiley 2021), and over 50 book chapters and articles in journals such as Sociological Theory, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Adult Development, and Research on Aging. Dr. Dillon’s research has been supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation, the Louisville Institute, the Fetzer Institute, and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, among other entities. She was honored in 2011 as the 11th Annual Anne Drummey O'Callaghan Lecturer on Women in the Church, at Fairfield University; and in 2011-12 was the JE and Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Professor Dillon has served as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Chair of the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Religion, and President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion. She is frequently interviewed by regional, national and international media outlets on matters pertaining to religion and, in 2021, was listed in the world's top 2 percent of researchers (in a study published in PLOS Biology Journal).

Courses Taught

  • COLA 402: COLA Research
  • INCO 590: Student Research Experience
  • SOC 792: Internship Independent Study
  • SOC 911: Sociological Theory I


  • Ph.D., University of California - Berkeley
  • M.A., University of California - Berkeley
  • M.Soc.Sci., University College Dublin
  • B.Soc.Sci., University College Dublin

Research Interests

  • Aging and life course
  • Culture
  • Irish society
  • Religion
  • Sociological theory

Selected Publications

  • Dillon, M. (2018). Postsecular Catholicism: Relevance and Renewal. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Dillon, M., & Wink, P. (2007). In the Course of a Lifetime Tracing Religious Belief, Practice, and Change. Univ of California Press.

  • Wink, P., & Dillon, M. (2003). Religiousness, spirituality, and psychosocial functioning in late adulthood: findings from a longitudinal study.. Psychol Aging, 18(4), 916-924. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.18.4.916

  • Wink, P., & Dillon, M. (2002). Spiritual Development across the Adult Life-course: Findings from a Longitudinal Study. Journal of Adult Development, 9, 79-94.

  • Dillon, M. (1999). Catholic Identity Balancing Reason, Faith, and Power. Cambridge University Press.