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Deondra Rose, assistant professor of public policy, political science, and history, 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.

Deondra Rose

Rose joined Duke in 2014 and has served as director of research at Polis since 2019. Since that time, she has helped launch the Polis Innovation Accelerator, an initiative to help students grapple with problems like racial injustice and threats to democracy while exploring policy innovations to address them; she created PolicyLab, which allows students to work on policy memos in response to policymakers’ questions; and she organized a major virtual conference on voting and democratic aspiration. Rose has also helped to shape Duke University efforts to support voter engagement, including providing support for the Duke Votes student group. 

“Working with Mac and the Polis team these last two years has been a true honor. Under Mac's extraordinary leadership, Polis has reached new heights in terms of student engagement and creating rich opportunities for the Sanford and Duke communities to engage with politics,” Rose said. “I’m excited to lead Polis as we advance our mission: promoting powerful politics research, fostering rich political discourse, and helping a new generation of leaders find on-ramps to public service.”

Rose succeeds faculty member Mac McCorkle as director for the past two years. As director emeritus for Polis, McCorkle will continue to teach at Sanford as a professor of the practice.

"It has been a pleasure to serve as the director of Polis these last two years. Deondra and I have worked to offer cutting-edge programming and events that have generated rich discussions about politics and politics-related research at Duke, we have increased Polis's efforts to cultivate a new generation of political leaders, and we helped to shape the University's unprecedented voter participation efforts during the 2020 election, which supported Duke's students, staff and faculty. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and I'm excited about the future of Polis under Deondra's leadership."

Sanford Dean Judith Kelley recognized Rose and McCorkle for their leadership of Polis. 

“I am thankful for Mac and Deondra’s leadership of Polis. They have made an impact on our communities and deeply engaged our students, at a time when democracy has been tested in every way possible. Democracy is the cornerstone of a free society, and Polis’ work is critical to enable participation in democracy. Over the past several years, Mac’s deep knowledge of state and national politics has helped to catapult Polis forward, while Deondra’s research and initiatives have connected Polis and students to policymakers in new ways. I know that Deondra will continue to propel Polis forward and encourage our students to ‘stand for something,’ as Terry Sanford said,” Kelley said.

On July 1, Rose will also become associate professor of public policy, political science and history. Rose’s research focuses on the feedback effects of landmark social policies on the American political landscape. In addition to U.S. public/social policy, Rose's research and teaching interests include higher education policy, American political development, political behavior, identity politics, and inequality. She is the principal investigator of research projects, including Educating Black Elites: HBCUs, Public Policy, and the Redistribution of American Political Power.

Rose is the author of Citizens by Degree: Higher Education Policy and the Changing Gender Dynamics of American Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2018), which examines the development of landmark U.S. higher education policies -- including the National Defense Education Act of 1958, the Higher Education Act of 1965, and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments -- and their impact on the progress that women have made since the mid-20th century.  

Rose's research has appeared in Studies in American Political Development, the Journal of Policy History, the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, and PS: Political Science & Politics.

Rose has taught a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has advised more than 30 undergraduate and graduate students on honors theses, master’s projects and doctoral advising. She has served as faculty advisor to a variety of student organizations, including the Sanford Journal of Public Policy.

Over the last 20 years, in addition to her work as a faculty member and political scientist, Rose has worked on political campaigns in Georgia, Minnesota and North Carolina, offered political commentary frequently in the media, and served on boards and committees, including the Durham City-County Confederate Monuments committee appointed by the mayor and the City Council. She also serves as the co-director of the North Carolina Scholars Strategy Network.

Rose received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, Athens; and her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

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 our democracy’s forebearers.


Ways & Means: Election 2020

Ways & Means – Season 5:
In 2020, Polis sponsored Season 5 of Sanford’s award-winning documentary podcast, Ways & Means. The season featured issues in U.S. politics, civic life and important topics of the 2020 elections.