Due to inclement weather, UVa-Wise is closed on Friday, March 6.

Sydow is featured speaker for the spring Alumni Lecture Series at UVa-Wise


Debbie L. Sydow, a 1985 graduate of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, is the featured speaker for the spring Alumni Lecture Series at UVa-Wise.

The public is invited to the lecture, which is set for Monday, April 9, at 1 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths.

Sydow, president of Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, N.Y., was recently named president of Virginia’s Richard Bland College. The William & Mary Board of Visitors named Sydow, a nationally recognized leader in higher education, as the new president of its branch college. Richard Bland College, located in Petersburg, is the only state junior college in Virginia. Sydow begins her new duties in July.

A native of Wise County, Sydow began her career at Southwest Virginia Community College as an English professor where, as a result of scholarly achievement, she was awarded the Faculty-Scholar Award. Later, as dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division at the same college, she initiated successful programs in faculty development, outcomes assessment, and distance education. Sydow served as lead researcher and writer for the Virginia Community College System’s highly acclaimed professional development program. Just prior to assuming the presidency at Onondaga Community College, she served as vice president of Academic and Student Services, and for a time as acting president, at Mountain Empire Community College.

Sydow earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, a Master of Arts degree in English from Marquette University, and a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She completed post-graduate work in community college administration at Virginia Tech and is an alumna of the American Council on Education’s Fellows program.

An active professional and civic leader, Sydow has served as president of the New York Community College Association of Presidents, chair of the board of directors of the Institute for Community College Development at Cornell University, and as chair of the American Council on Education’s Commission on Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness. She serves on several community and corporate boards, including CenterState CEO, the Excellus Advisory Board, CNY Works, Syracuse 20/20, and the M&T Bank Syracuse Regional Board.

In recognition of community and college leadership, she has received the Association of Community College Trustees 2008 CEO of the Year Award for the Northeast Region, Women in Business Award, YWCA Diversity Achievers Award, Girls Scouts Women of Distinction Award, The Zonta Club of Syracuse’s Crystal Award, The Post-Standard Achievement Award, the National Diversity Council’s Tri-State Most Powerful and Influential Women Award, the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society’s Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, and the AIA CNY Chapter’s 2010 President’s Award.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise created its Alumni Lecture Series to bring distinguished alumni to campus to discuss how their college experience influenced their careers. Alumni lecturers are selected based on their leadership and achievements in their chosen fields. The Alumni Lecture Committee welcomes suggestions on future speakers. Please contact Tami Ely, vice chancellor for development and college relations, at 276-376-1057 or email at to offer suggestions.

Cultural activity credit is given for this event. For more information on the news release, contact College Relations at 276-376-1027.