Michigan Sociology is mourning the passing of one of our beloved emeritus faculty members; Donald R. Deskins, professor emeritus of urban geography and sociology, passed away on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.
A former UM & NFL football player, Professor Deskins received his BA, MA, and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Originally in the Department of Geography, he joined the Sociology Department in 1982 when the geography program was discontinued.
In his highly productive career, Professor Deskins made important scholarly contributions to our understanding of racial dynamics in American society. His research spans such diverse topics as residential segregation, the construction of urban space, racial factors in site location and employment patterns, economic restructuring and teen pregnancy, and changing higher educational opportunities for minority graduate students. In addition, Professor Deskins produced numerous reports on community and economic development commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences and state and local governments.
A demanding but compassionate mentor, Professor Deskins guided countless doctoral students, many from historically under-represented backgrounds, to the successful completion of their degrees. Furthermore, he continually injected the drama of the human experience into his classroom. His undergraduate course on sports and society, infused with his own life stories as an athlete, was one of the sociology department's most popular offerings. For his superior accomplishments, Professor Deskins received numerous University and national awards and honors.
Professor Deskins' favorite phrase was that "he was here for all the beautiful people" (referring to his students and colleagues); the beautiful people will miss him dearly.