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About William L. Portier

William L. Portier is the Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology and Ph.D. Program Director in the Department of Religious Studies. He is the president (2014-18) of the College Theology Society and a member of the National Board of the Lilly Fellows Program Network.

He serves on the editorial boards of Communio, International Catholic Review and U.S. Catholic Historian. His most recent book is Divided Friends: Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United States (2013). He is also the author of Isaac Hecker and the First Vatican Council (1985) and Tradition and Incarnation (1994), a widely used undergraduate theology text.  His graduate courses in historical and systematic theology support the department’s M.A. and Ph.D. programs and generally explore the inculturation of Catholicism in the United States.

He is especially interested in generational differences among Catholics in the United States, questions about how to be Catholic on a voluntary religious landscape without a Catholic culture, and Pope Francis’s impact on the church, especially in the United States. In 2015, he received the American Catholic Historical Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award. He spent academic year 2015-16 on sabbatical working on a new book on Catholicism in America and in residence as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Maryland.


2003 Present Professor, University of Dayton Department of Religious Studies
Present Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology, University of Dayton Department of Religious Studies
Present Acting Committee Chair of Doctoral Programs in Theology, University of Dayton Department of Religious Studies


1980 PhD, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto ‐ Theology
1972 MA, Washington Theological Union ‐ Theology
1969 BA, Loyola University Chicago ‐ Philosophy

Contact Information

Phone: 937-229-4435


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