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Debra Y. Griffith, Ph.D.
Dr. Debra Y. Griffith

2017 ​Outstanding Administrator​​

Debra Y. Griffith ,Ph.D.

San José State University​
Associate Vice President, Transition and Retention Services

Major Accomplishments

  • Spearheaded the rebuilding efforts of San José State University’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
  • Improved retention rates for first-year freshmen and transfer students in the EOP
  • Launched the first Spartan Scholars Program and helped create the first Parent and Family Program at San José State

Debra Y. Griffith, Ed.D., associate vice president of Transition and Retention Services and director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), joined San José State University in 2001. Since then, Dr. Griffith has served in numerous positions at the university, including resident director in University Housing Services, director of the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development and deputy Title IX investigator.

Through her visionary leadership and strategic management, Griffith supports the university’s mission of improving student success and completion for underrepresented and minority students. Her signature approach meets students where they are, partnering with them as they progress through their studies. She plays a key leadership role in multiple programs focused on meeting the needs of San José State’s diverse student body, including the EOP, Guardian Scholars Program, Summer Bridge Program and more.

Griffith also provided leadership and guidance in launching the first Spartan Scholars Program, a five-week residential program for students who need support in math and/or English, and helped create the first-ever Parent and Family Program, which engages freshman, transfer and first-generation students and their families.

From 2010 to 2016, Griffith led efforts to rebuild San José State’s EOP. She developed and implemented program services, refined the admissions process and requirements, improved learning outcomes, and put in place a staffing model and assessment, as well as identified space for the program and budget needs. Under her leadership, retention rates for first-year freshmen in the EOP exceeded overall retention rates for first-year students at the university.

Griffith earned her Ed.D. from Argosy University in San Francisco, her master’s from San José State, and her bachelor’s from Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York.

“Robert Ingersoll said, ‘We rise by lifting others.’ This quote is at the core of what I believe," points out Griffith. "I was told early on in my career to pull people up as you rise. It’s something that has always stuck with me. So I have always tried to do all that I can to assist people to actualize their goals and dreams, because there are many that have helped, guided and mentored me along the ​way.”