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Sarah Deutsch, Ph.D.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Professor, History



Sarah Deutsch has been a professor of history at Duke since 2004. She also served as dean of the faculty of social sciences from 2006 to 2009 and as chair of the Department of History from 2004 to 2006. Her work focuses on issues of difference, particularly racial, gender, class, and spatial formations. She has numerous publications, including three books, and she is currently working on a fourth: Making a Modern U.S. West, 1898-1942.

In Her Words

"The most important quality of a good mentor is to be a good listener. Not every person needs to be mentored in the same way, and not every mentor has the same style. There are a lot of ways to be a good mentor, but the fit is particularly important, and a good mentor would recognize if the relationship is not working, that the mentor needs to encourage the person they are mentoring to seek multiple mentors, to seek other mentors."

In Their Words

Excerpts from Deutsch’s Nominations

"She is the kind of mentor with whom you look forward to meeting because you know you are going to smile a lot during the meeting even though you know your work is going to be challenged and your ideas scrutinized to the point where you may not believe your own argument anymore—exactly what good mentor should be!"

"Professor Deutsch employs a unique advising style that is at once demanding and relaxed. She allows enough space for the self-discovery and creativity that promotes ownership of one’s scholarship. At the same time, she maintains a rigorous standard that is reinforced by thorough written feedback and consistent communication."

"Sally’s stellar reputation and breadth of commitments have never compromised her accessibility and quality feedback to those she mentors. Even in the midst of her service as dean, she made time to meet with me—a first-year graduate student she barely knew at the time."

"When I arrived at her office, I was immediately intimidated, as it was clear she was navigating a cascade of demands that day. She put me at ease with a refrain I have heard many times since: 'I am always available to graduate students.' "

"In addition to being an amazing human being, Sally is also a fantastic teacher and academic. In particular, she has a knack for helping students think though the larger implications of their research."