Deborah Oakes

Deb Oakes headshot

I am originally from Beaver, Pennsylvania, and have also lived in Key West, Florida; Ridgecrest, California (Mojave Desert); Norfolk, Virginia; and the Republic of the Philippines. All of these places offered extraordinary opportunities.

I graduated from Penn State with a bachelor of science degree in biology, earned a commission in the U.S. Navy, and served a career in positions that included public relations officer of a naval air station, technical writer for a test and evaluation squadron, executive officer of pay/personnel units in Southeast Asia, and director of a Navy leader development school in Virginia. I retired as a commander and moved to State College in 1995 with my husband, also a retired Navy commander, and our ten children.

After relocating here, I worked for several years as a Centre Daily Times special publications editor, then joined Penn State in September 1999, initially at the Center for the Performing Arts and more recently as communications director and academic adviser in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. I also served as chair of the Commission for Women, which advises the President on issues affecting women (faculty, staff, and students) at Penn State and advocates for programs and policies that improve the University's working and learning environments.


  • B.S. in Biology, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Numerous Department of Defense and U.S. Navy management and leadership schools

Current Position

Senior Undergraduate Studies Adviser (Communications Director)

Research & Teaching Interests

Communication across genders, cultures, and generations; leadership styles; and organizational effectiveness

Contact Information

Office: 116 Grange Building
Phone: 814-865-7576
Fax: 814-863-8913