Bill Mirola, Ph.D., enters the 2016-17 academic year with a new office and new job title, but the same passion to teach and inspire students he has brought to campus for 22 years. As the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Mirola will lead the new school combining the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Mathematics and Sciences.
Dr. Mirola received a bachelor’s degree in biology from a small university in New York. Although he minored in sociology, he did not have a strong interest in the subject at first. Only until he landed a job as a pharmacy technician at an inpatient hospital that allowed employees to take two courses a semester at a local university did he realize he had a desire to learn more. Dr. Mirola received his Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University and has been a professor of sociology at Marian University ever since.
In 2015, Dr. Mirola’s book, Redeeming Time: Protestantism and the Eight-Hour Movement in Chicago, 1886-1912, was published. The book examines the role of protestant clergy in the fight for the eight hour work day in Chicago.
Q&A with Dr. Mirola
Q: What has kept you at Marian University?
A: A combination of things has kept me here. The community here has been very strong and very supportive. I couldn’t think of a better group of faculty to come into when I was a new faculty member. I also can’t imagine a better place to be a teacher. While my dad had a college degree, my mom didn’t, and there was nobody that really took my hand as a student and told me about things like graduate school. I had to just figure it out on my own. I have really made it part of my mission to do that kind of work for my students.
Q: Leadership is part of Marian University’s identity. Who is someone you look up to because of their leadership qualities?
A: That is a challenging question. I look up to a number of different people for different aspects of leadership. For 15 years, I have been amazed at watching President Elsener. It is amazing to me, his ability to move people. My leaders are people who are bridge builders. Whenever I see people reaching across what the dividing line is, doing that and bringing people together, that is somebody that I want to learn from. That’s what I think being a leader is. I am learning that is a tricky thing.
Q: Are you working on any current projects?
A: I’ve had a text book, Religion Matters: What Sociology Teaches Us about Religion in our World, and a reader, Sociology of Religion: A Reader, that I co-edited and co-authored, and we are now up to the point where we are putting out a third edition of the reader and a second edition of the text. My colleagues and I have spent time in intensive conversation about revising the text. This is going to be a huge task because we are trying to juggle the realities of our new administrative lives.