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Deborah E. Southern

UC Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow
Deborah Southern
Deborah E. Southern
UC Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Deborah E. Southern is a University of California Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow with the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and Higher Education & Organizational Change program at UCLA. As a postdoc working with Dr. Mitchell Chang, she builds upon her dissertation findings to further learn how leaders notice and disrupt whiteness within their graduate schools and programs. Formerly she was a research assistant at the University of Southern California Pullias Center for Higher Education and a Rossier Dean’s Fellow in the Urban Education Policy PhD program at Rossier School of Education. While at USC, Dr. Southern was advised by Dr. Julie Posselt.

Dr. Southern's research interests include racialized inequities and whiteness in organizational policy, practices, and routines, and dismantling white supremacy in higher education.

Originally from Rochester, N.Y., Dr. Southern earned a master’s in higher education at the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s in Asian studies and history at Occidental College.

Teaching and Research Interests

Titles and Positions

  • University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA), 2022-2023
    University of California Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
    Higher Education & Organizational Change and Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies
    Advisor: Dr. Mitchell Chang


  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA), 2017-2022
    PhD, Urban Education Policy, Higher Education Concentration
    Dissertation: Tempering transformative change: Whiteness and racialized emotions in graduate leaders’ implementation of equity plans
    Advisor: Dr. Julie Posselt
    Committee: Drs. Estela Bensimon, Shaun Harper, Ben Carrington, Cheryl Matias
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI), 2016
    MA, Higher Education, Diversity and Social Justice Concentration
  • Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA), 2011
    BA with Honors, Asian Studies and History

Awards, Honors, Fellowships

  • University of Southern California Rossier School of Education Dean's Research Grant, 2020-2021
    Examining whiteness and mechanisms of change in higher education organizations: Graduate leaders’ implementation of equity, University of Southern California
  • Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2019
  • Rossier Dean’s Fellowship, University of Southern California, 2017-2022