Donald Deskins, Jr. was a native of Brooklyn, New York. He earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1960, 1963, and 1971, respectively. He was on the faculty of the Department of Geography at the University of Michigan from 1968 to 2002, and Chair of the Department from 1974 – 1979. When the Department was discontinued in 1982, Professor Deskins joined the Department of Sociology as professor of urban geography and sociology.
In his highly productive career, Professor Deskins made important scholarly contributions to our understanding of racial dynamics in American society. His research spanned 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. For his superior accomplishments, Professor Deskins has already received numerous University and national awards and honors.
For his many accomplishments, Deskins was selected to receive the inaugural Harold M. Rose Award for Anti-Racism Research and Practice, awarded at the 2013 AAG Annual Meeting. He died before being able to accept the award in person.