Sierra College Names William Syms, Ph.D. to Serve as Executive Dean of Student Equity and Completion

July 1, 2022
Portrait of William Syms.
William Syms, Ph.D., Executive Dean of Student Equity and Completion 

At the June 2022 Sierra College board meeting the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. William Syms as the new Executive Dean of Student Equity and Completion. Dr. Syms comes to Sierra College from Pasadena City College where he has served most recently as an academic administrator in the Non-Credit Division and TRIO Programs as well as faculty teaching First Year Seminar courses.

In addition to his work in higher education, William has served as staff for Amnesty International USA, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the United States House of Representatives, and the City of Pasadena. 

“Thank you to the Board of Trustees, President Duncan, and the hiring committee for placing faith in my ability to provide leadership around equity at Sierra College. President Duncan has empowered a dynamic team of leaders with his clear vision for student success and I am excited to scale work with the group,” Dr. William Syms commented.  

“The skills, relationships, and lessons I gained as a community college student have shaped my life both personally and professionally. My work with congress, international human rights organizations, legislators from municipal to federal levels, and in the California community college system was all possible because of the support I continue to receive from innovative educators at community colleges.” Dr. Syms continued, “My wife Shauna and I look forward to raising our children, August and Ellington, in the area for years to come. We are passionate about supporting community efforts and deeply engaging with local libraries.” 

The Executive Dean serves as a leader for the college’s equity and completion efforts; establishes a shared vision for providing systemic access, support, and opportunity to underrepresented and underserved student populations; and promotes a culture of inclusion and belonging. This position works in partnership with the Executive Dean of Student Success and in close collaboration with other campus and community stakeholders and committees to determine, close, and ultimately eliminate the college’s equity gaps.  

“Dr. Syms is passionate about restorative justice issues nationwide and working with educators to create equitable outcomes for systematically marginalized groups. We are excited to have him join the Sierra College community,” said Willy Duncan, Sierra College Superintendent/President.  

 Dr. Syms earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at Clark Atlanta University, a master’s degree in public administration from California State University Northridge, and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Southern California.  

About Sierra College 

Sierra College District is rising to the needs of our community. Sierra College serves 3,200 square miles of Northern California with campuses in Roseville, Rocklin, Grass Valley, and Truckee. With approximately 125 degree and certificate programs, Sierra College is ranked first in Northern California (Sacramento north) for transfers to four-year universities, offers career/technical training, and classes for upgrading job skills.  Sierra graduates can be found in businesses and industries throughout the region. More information at