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Abdullah Antepli, associate professor of the practice at Sanford and associate professor of the practice of interfaith relations at the Divinity School, will become the new director of Polis: Center for Politics in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University as of July 1, Dean Judith Kelley announced today. Established at Sanford in 2015, Polis prepares future political leaders and fosters innovative scholarship related to the pressing political issues of our time.

A scholar, public intellectual and leader of cross-religious and cross-cultural dialogue in American higher education and the nonprofit world, Antepli has developed organizations and initiatives to facilitate religious and spiritual life across college campuses, and foster understanding between diverse religious and cultural groups.

In 2023, he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has been honored with numerous awards, including the Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Award and the first Kay Family Award for his decades of work in humanitarian projects and interfaith relations.

Antepli previously served as the inaugural associate vice president/associate vice provost for community-engaged research and teaching at Duke. Prior to that appointment, Antepli was Duke’s first Muslim chaplain and director of Center for Muslim Life from July 2008 to 2014, and then the school’s chief representative for Muslim affairs from July 2014 to 2019. He has been a senior fellow on Jewish-Muslim Relations at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem since 2012 where he founded the Muslim Leadership Initiative. Antepli completed his graduate work at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn. and his undergraduate studies at Ondokuz Mayıs University in his native country of Turkey.

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Antepli will become the new director on July 1. 

In November 2023, Antepli worked with Polis to plan the Combating Hate and Bias conference at Duke, a two-day convening that considered the various ways that hate, and bias influence the lives and experiences of communities in North Carolina, the United States, and around the world. 

“It has been a pleasure to work with Polis and see the center blossom under the leadership of my colleague Deondra Rose. I am looking forward to continuing the great work of the center through one of the most critical times of history as we seek to find ways of civil discourse through continued challenges in our society,” Antepli said.

Deondra Rose is the Kevin D. Gorter Associate Professor of Public Policy, and associate professor of public policy, political science and history. She has served as director since July 2021. Rose is currently serving as Duke University’s third Presidential Fellow and chair of the Advisory Committee of the President’s Council on Black Affairs. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Academic Council. As the director of Polis: Center for Politics Rose has lifted up Duke’s efforts to support civic and political engagement. Through the center, she has helped facilitate deep discussions about combating hate and bias, redistricting reform, economic strategies for rural North Carolina, civic engagement and civil discourse. During Rose’s term as director, Polis launched a number of signature initiatives including the Polis Distinguished Fellows Program, the Polis Student Committee, and Project Citizen an experiential orientation program that gave first-year Duke students the unique opportunity to build new connections while developing skills to become more active and compassionate citizens in their school, local, state, national, and global communities. The program featured a trip to Washington, D.C. where students visited a variety of places such as the U.S. Capitol Building, the headquarters of Oxfam, national monuments, museums and embassies.

In March 2022, Polis hosted “Politics, Policy, and a New Economic Strategy for Rural North Carolina,” a conference that brought together a group of policymakers, community members, practitioners, activists, and scholars to consider some of the most pressing questions facing North Carolina and the U.S. in terms of rural communities.

In 2023, Polis launched ‘Bedeviled: A Podcast about American Democracy from Duke University,’ hosted by award winning journalist and Polis Distinguished Fellow John Harwood.  Guests have included President Joe Biden, former member of Congress Liz Cheney and former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

Deondra Rose has served as director since July 2021.

"Serving as the director of Polis has been one of the great honors of my career.  It was thrilling to work with previous Polis director Mac McCorkle to think big about how Polis could become a true hub for politics at Duke and to think seriously about how we could engage the univeristy’s broad community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to foster more nuanced understanding of the often perplexing political landscape.  Polis’s team of staff is truly remarkable, and it has been a privilege to work with them to find new and exciting ways to help our students find on-ramps to civic and political engagement and to showcase the extraordinary politics research and analysis that our faculty produce every day.  I am excited that my dear friend and colleague Abdullah Antepli will lead Polis in its next chapter, and I’m bullish about what the center will achieve under his leadership," Rose said.

Sanford Dean Judith Kelley recognized Antepli and Rose for their leadership.

“I thank Deondra and Abdullah for their abilities to ‘stand for something’ every day in their leadership, scholarship and teaching. Under Deondra’s leadership, Polis has created an array of new programs. I thank Deondra for her service, passion and innovation. I am confident that Abdullah will continue to lead Polis in new and exciting directions, at a time when the work of the center is more important than ever to advance democracy and civil discourse,” Kelley said.

About Polis: Center for Politics

Polis: Center for Politics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is committed to increasing our understanding of politics locally, nationally, and globally. We aim to promote powerful politics research, to foster rich political discourse, and to help a new generation of leaders find on-ramps to public service.

About Polis’ name:

The name Polis references the Athenian polis, the Greek word for city-state and the site of the first great experiment in democracy. By connecting to this original democratic undertaking, where it was the duty of every citizen to participate fully in public affairs, Polis signals its commitment to facing the political challenges of our time by drawing on the same spirit of deliberation, cooperation and innovation that was a hallmark of the origin of democracy.