Debra Bragg

debra-braggEdward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor Emeritus and founding director of OCCRL

Dr. Debra D. Bragg is a Fellow of New America a policy think tank that consists of a community of innovative problem-solvers, combining our core expertise in researching, reporting and analysis with new areas of coding, data science, and human-centered design to experiment and innovate nationally and globally. Dr. Bragg is also President of Bragg and Associates, Inc., an equity-minded consulting group dedicated to advancing student success in education and employment. Dr. Bragg’s research focuses on transitions to and through education to employment. She has led national studies on a wide range of P-20 education policies, including developmental education, career-technical education and career pathways, transfer (vertical and reverse credit), and community college baccalaureates. She founded the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign serving as OCCRL's director from 1989-2015. In 2013, Dr. Bragg was named a Gutsgell Endowed Professor at Illinois in recognition of her career-long pursuit of research on the transition of youth and adults to and through postsecondary education, especially community colleges. Her 25-year tenure at Illinois produced over $17 million in external funding from federal and state governments and numerous private foundations.  

Dr. Bragg has an extensive resume, including journal articles, briefs, books, and blogs in major media outlets. In 2015, Dr. Bragg was named a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and on November 11, 2016, she was recognized with the Distinguished Career Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and in 2019, Dr. Bragg was honored with the national Transfer Champion Award from the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS). She is also the recipient of the Career Teaching award from the College of Education at the University of Illinois and the Senior Scholar and the Art Cohen and Florence Brawer Distinguished Service awards from the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. During her career, she founded another community college research centers Community College Research Initiatives (CCRI) at the University of Washington in Seattle serving as its founding director from 2016-2020.