Ahead of Her Time
When Deborah Dexter joined San Diego State University in 1967, she was the only woman in the department of Zoology. She quickly became a role model for those who would follow, winning multiple research grants, recognition for her expertise in ecology and zoology and, in 1985, a Fulbright Scholar/Research award.
The Fulbright took her to Egypt to teach oceanography at the University of Alexandria, while simultaneously doing field work through a National Geographic Society research grant. During more than three decades at SDSU, Dexter also lived and worked in Australia, Panama, Israel, Hong Kong, Thailand, Portugal and elsewhere.
Her appreciation for cultural interchange led her to establish the Deborah M. Dexter Endowed Scholarship for International Students in 2013.
"I feel strongly that every college in the United States should have international students on campus," she said. "The interaction between American and international students in enlightening for both parties and creates a good impression of our country."
At SDSU, Dexter taught marine invertebrate biology, biological oceanography, marine ecology and the popular course, Life in the Sea, for non-science majors.
She received six awards for outstanding teaching and multiple research grants from federal agencies such as the Smithsonian Institution, Panama; the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Region; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Dexter now lives in Northern California, and misses the SDSU theatre productions. She had been a season ticket-holder.
"Musical theatre is my favorite, and SDSU is the only university to offer a master of fine arts in musical theatre that integrates performance training with academic study," she said.
This year, she established the Deborah M. Dexter Endowed Scholarship in Musical Theater to support graduate students in this unique and challenging program. Additionally, Dr. Dexter has also established a scholarship for the Biology Department as part of her legacy at SDSU.
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