cleric holding certain positions of authority within a religious hierarchy

A dean is the title of a high official in a church or college.

At one time all ancient colleges were entirely run by priests. In England, you could not even be a student unless you were a member of a Church of England congregation. In those days, a Dean was a senior person who looked after the people and finance, and that is usually so today. But now there are two kinds of Dean:

  1. A Dean is a priest who is the head of the Chapter of a cathedral, which meets in a chapter house. He is responsible for managing the cathedral and its affairs. In some cathedrals he is also the local parish priest, called a Rector.
  2. A Dean is the official who usually looks after an educational college (see Dean (education)). Sometimes he is also the head of the college, sometimes not. In modern colleges, the Dean may take charge of discipline, or be the chief of a Faculty of a university.