Patricia O’Connell Killen

Professor Emerita and Faculty Fellow in Humanities

Patricia O'Connell Killen
  • Professional
  • Biography


  • Ph.D., Stanford University, 1987
  • M.A., Stanford University, 1976
  • B.A., Gonzaga University, 1974

Areas of Emphasis or Expertise

  • History of Christianity in North America
  • Religion and Spirituality in the Pacific Northwest
  • Theological Reflection and Faith-Inspired Higher Education


  • The Future of Catholicism in America (New York: Columbia University Press 2019) : View Book
  • Selected Letters of A.M.A. Blanchet, Bishop of Walla Walla and Nesqualy, 1846-1879. Edited with Roberta Stringham Brown. (Seattle: University of Washington Press 2013) : View Book
  • Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone. Primary Editor. Lanham (MD: Alta Mira Press 2004) : View Book
  • Finding Our Voices: Women, Wisdom and FaithFaith (NY: Crossroad Publishing Company 1997) : View Book
  • The Art of Theological Reflection (NY: Crossroad Publishing 1994) : View Book


  • American Academy of Religion Teaching Excellence Award 2006
  • K.T. Tang Faculty Excellence Award – Research 2004
  • Paul Bator Memorial Award, Canadian Catholic Historical Society 2001
  • Elizabeth Seton Medal, College of Mt. St. Joseph, Cincinnati, OH 1999
  • Arnold and Lois Graves Foundation Award - Outstanding Humanities Teachers 1991


Patricia O’Connell Killen, professor emerita, taught courses in the Department of Religion and in the International Core at PLU from 1989 through 2010. She served as university provost from 2007 through 2010. In 2010 she accepted a position at Gonzaga University, her undergraduate alma mater, as professor of religious studies and Academic Vice President.  In 2019, having retired from Gonzaga, she returned to PLU as a faculty research fellow in the Division of Humanities. She is researching the practice of reflection in contemporary faith-inspired higher education and adjacent professional conversations under the auspices of a multi-year grant from the Lilly Endowment, Incorporated.

Across her four-decade career, Killen’s research has focused on Christianity in North America, especially Catholicism, on religion and spirituality in the western United States, particularly the Pacific Northwest, and on church-related higher education.  From 2006-2012 she served as editor of the Wiley-Blackwell journal, Teaching Theology and Religion.  Since 1999 she has been a workshop leader and consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.