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Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life
Dr. Varun Soni is the Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California (USC) as well as the Vice Provost of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention, Adjunct Professor of Religion, and University Fellow at the Annenberg Center on Public Diplomacy. He has led a polymathic life, earning degrees from Harvard Divinity School, a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town. His research has taken him throughout South Asia where he even spent time living in a Buddhist monastery. He is the author of Natural Mystics: The Prophetic Lives of Bob Marley and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Figueroa Press, 2014) and he produced the critically acclaimed graphic novel Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), which is currently being adapted as a television show. His essays and commentaries have appeared in a number of print and online publications, including CNN, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Jewish Journal, Religion Dispatches, CrossCurrents and Harvard Divinity Bulletin. As a national interfaith leader, Soni has organized and hosted many programs and events with prominent spiritual, scholarly and civic leaders, including His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez, Marianne Williamson, Gary Snyder, Krista Tippett, Chade-Meng Tan, Reza Aslan, Rainn Wilson, Pico Iyer, Lisa Ling, Louis Zamperini, Kobe Bryant and Baaba Maal. For two years, he produced and hosted his own radio show on KPFK-Pacifica (90.7FM, Los Angeles) that showcased music from South Asia and its diaspora.