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Deborah Deas '78

Deborah Deas, MD, MPH joined the University of California, Riverside, as the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine and the Chief Executive Officer for Clinical Affairs in May 2016. Dr. Deas specializes in treatments of adolescents and adults with substance abuse disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, and anxiety disorders. She considers herself fortunate and says “My chosen profession really is my passion to improve the health of underserved communities and diversify the physician workforce.”

Dr. Deas hails originally from Adams Run, South Carolina, a rural town 25 miles south of Charleston. She was valedictorian of her high school graduating class, but had to consider cost when choosing where she would go to college. Dr. Deas was interested in the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and Furman University, but the College awarded her a tuition scholarship specifically allocated for valedictorians. The College had a great location too. “Another deciding factor was the ability to live on campus and be away from my home community, but not too far that I could not visit regularly,” she said. “My parents were older and I wanted to be close enough to see them often.”

Dr. Deas in 1976 as a sophomore

While at the College, Dr. Deas lived in College Inn, a motel the College acquired and converted into a dormitory on the corner of Coming and Calhoun Street. Today, it is the site of the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building. As a student, she and her peers spent a lot of time at the new Stern Student Center, enjoying its TV rooms, pool tables, and Olympic-sized swimming pool, which quickly became the student hub it remains today.

Dr. Deas knew she wanted to be a physician, but she learned resilience at the College. “My parents always told me hard work was essential and if things were easy, then everybody would do it. I knew when I arrived at the College of Charleston that I had aspirations of becoming a physician and that with hard work there would be obstacles. At the College, I learned to view obstacles as growth pains and not to allow setbacks to discourage me.”

She would like to pass on a lesson from her parents to today’s College students: “Consider developing a personal strategic plan for the goals you want to achieve. Interestingly, it was my parents, who were not college graduates, who taught me this. They wrote down the things they wanted to accomplish for the year, and I picked that up as a habit I still keep to this day.” Dr. Deas would also encourage students to “utilize all of the resources and services available at the College of Charleston and build a network of mentors among your peers and your professors.” Reflecting on her time at the College, she says, “My upbringing, with loving and wise parents, and my experience at the College, were foundational in helping me fully realize my potential.”

Dr. Deas is the the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine and the Chief Executive Officer
for Clinical Affairs for the University of California at Riverside