Professor of political science and international relations Kenneth Deutsch died on March 16. Deutsch had been teaching at Geneseo since 1973. Deutsch served as the political science department chair from 1979–1984. He received a Fulbright award after teaching and researching in India in 1979.
He specialized in political theory, constitutional law and comparative political systems. Before his death, Deutsch was writing a book about free speech and the promotion of violence in constitutional democracies.
Professor of political science and international relations Edward Drachman viewed Deutsch as a tremendous educator and mentor to many students.
“He’s old school, but in the best way,” he said. “Old school in the sense of being demanding of students—of maintaining rigorous standards without wavering in any way and trying to get the best out of each student.”
Deutsch had a reputation of being a tough teacher, but senior Patrick McCormick said that he made students better members of society.
“You can’t not pay attention [in his lectures],” McCormick said. “He’s too engaging, he demands too much out of you and I think that helped make me a better student and challenged me to really succeed at Geneseo in all of my classes.”
Political science major junior Harrison Hartsough, who was a teaching assistant for Deutsch, echoed this sentiment.
“He took me under his wing,” he said. “It wasn’t a relationship just centered on [academic rigor]; he also ultimately taught me how to be a good citizen.”
Deutsch was known around the Geneseo community as an exceptional conversationalist.
“I always enjoyed our conversations,” Drachman said. “They were always stimulating, provocative and contentious, but memorable.”
Conversations with Deutsch went beyond politics for students like Hartsough.
“We were able to have a really fruitful conversation about something that we shared an interest in: classical music,” he said. “Getting to engage with him on a personal level was very meaningful because I got to see the scope and sheer depth of knowledge he had in such a wide variety of areas.”
Drachman said that he will dearly miss his weekly lunches with Deutsch, something they have done every Monday together for nearly 20 years.
“We always—in addition to sharing the meal—we shared good conversation,” Drachman said. “We discussed politics, books, movies, education and there was never a shortage of ideas or topics. My intellectual batteries were charged each time.”
“There are countless lawyers and professionals out there who are proud Geneseo alumni who can attest to the fact that Deutsch is the type of person who drives you to be the best you.” McCormick said. He added that although Deutsch was not always a student favorite, he always made a positive impact on students’ lives.
“Whether you liked him or not, he makes you a better you,” he said. “We should all be grateful that Geneseo had a professor for over 40 years who did that.”
Deutsch is survived by his sister Bonnie Mund who lives in Queens, New York and his friends in and around the Geneseo community.