Faces of Berkeley: Jeff Deutsch, student store director leaving for Stanford

Cal Student Store director reflects on work, student partnerships

Samantha Rosenbaum/Staff
Jeff Deutsch, the current director of the Cal student store, will be leaving his position soon for a job at Stanford.

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Working with college students all day long is not everyone’s ideal job — but for Jeff Deutsch, director of the Cal Student Store, it is a unique and challenging experience that inspires satisfaction and pride.

For years, Deutsch has been working five to seven days a week on store and campus operations, with a daily schedule that consists of many meetings with administrators, managers and students. He cites a large part of his job as being able to listen to students and understand how to meet their needs.

“It’s mainly about providing students with everything they need to enhance their academic experience,” Deutsch said of the role of student store director. “We are also a hub of spirit on campus — it’s a place for students to feel pride.”

After six years on the UC Berkeley campus, however, Deutsch will be leaving at the end of March for a similar store management position at Stanford University.

Deutsch said he made the decision to leave in February because of the opportunity to expand his professional skills at Stanford, where he will soon be managing six student stores instead of one.

“I genuinely love this campus,” he said of his time at UC Berkeley. “It was a very difficult decision.”

The hiring of a new store director will be handled by Follett regional manager Pam Wick, with input from campus Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab and ASUC President Vishalli Loomba.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Deutsch worked as a bookseller for most of his life. His favorite piece of literature, “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman, sits in his office in three places: as a book on his desk, in the form of a small ceramic figurine made for him by his fiancee and in a frame on his office wall.

Deutsch arrived at UC Berkeley in 2006 after keeping an eye on open positions and has been director of the store for four years.

His proudest accomplishments include sustainability projects, building relationships with students and bringing textbook rental options to the store in fall of 2010 — a venture that proved to be “incredible” and rewarding for “all the work we put in,” he said. About 150 students work in the store, making up over 50 percent of the staff, according to Deutsch.

“Working with students is really unique,” he said. “Trying to evolve to students, recognize change and flexibility, keeps it challenging.”

Deutsch has frequently partnered with student executives and campus faculty to make critical decisions on issues such as banning the sale of plastic water bottles in the store, the offering of textbook rentals and digital textbooks and contributing funds to keep campus libraries open, he said.

“I’ve had a phenomenal relationship with the ASUC,” he said, adding that he attends ASUC Senate meetings, reads through the entire election ballot each year and tries to meet with most of the senators at least once on a one-on-one basis.

Navab, who has worked with Deutsch on textbook adoptions and development projects, said his “vision and passion are things that have been inspiring to us.”

“Jeff’s dedication to students is something that comes through in his work and in his relationships,” Navab said.

Despite his impending move across the bay, Deutsch said he will always be proud of the diversity and free speech history of UC Berkeley. His favorite part of every year on campus, he said, has always been the start of the fall semester.

“The first few weeks are the best time, a crazy time,” he said. “Summer is so quiet. I love back-to-school — to see things come back to life again is amazing.”

After working with the campus student community for the past several years, Deutsch considers many students he has mentored and partnered with to be close friends.

“I’ve never had that opportunity to work so closely with students,” Deutsch said. “From the bottom of my heart, I love it.”

Amy Wang covers academics and administration.