December 10, 2004

William Sullivan was the University’s longest-serving dean

William J. Sullivan Jr.—the longest-serving dean at California State University, Sacramento—passed away Dec. 10 from complications of a stroke suffered at the end of November. He was 63.

Photo: William J. Sullivan Jr.
William J. Sullivan Jr.

Dr. Sullivan arrived at the University in 1970 as an instructor of German. He rose through the academic ranks as a professor to become the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences in 1984 after serving as its associate dean for five years. Subsequently, as the University grew and the School reorganized, Dr. Sullivan became Dean of the newly established School of Arts and Letters, then the new College of Arts and Letters, for which he was Dean from 1998 until his retirement earlier this year. In recognition of his seniority and 20 years as a dean, he was fondly referred to on campus as the “Dean of Deans.”

Since his arrival in Sacramento 34 years ago, Dr. Sullivan was an active member of the community and was closely affiliated with the Sacramento Turn Verein, a German-American civic organization. He served for more than 30 years with its Sacramento Turner Harmonie, as both choirmaster and president of the organization. For nearly 20 years he was also a member of the choir of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. He had numerous other civic affiliations including the Comstock Club and the Sacramento Capitol Club until its closure in 2003.

A native of New Jersey, he graduated from St. Peter’s College in Jersey City before going on to receive his master’s degree and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. His dissertation was on “The Baroque Sermon and its Role in the Development of German Prose.”

He began his teaching career at Johns Hopkins before entering the U.S. Army. After his discharge, he began his career at Sacramento State University. In 1965 he was honored by his peers on campus as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

During his years on campus, his interest in German culture took him to Germany on many academic fellowships and research projects.

He is survived by his sister Mary-Terese Sullivan of Hamberg, N.J. He was preceded in death by two brothers.

Funeral arrangements are pending. An on-campus celebration of life will be held at the beginning of the spring semester. He will be interred near his sister’s home in New Jersey.

In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that contributions be made to William J. Sullivan, College of Arts and Letters, Dean's Fund, 6000 J Street Sacramento , CA 95819-6049.

 

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