In Memoriam

Joel Grossman, emeritus professor of political science, dies at 81

A renowned scholar of the courts and the Constitution, he joined the Department of Political Science in 1996

Renowned legal scholar and Johns Hopkins faculty member Joel Grossman died on Saturday of cancer. He was 81.

Joel Grossman

Image caption: Joel Grossman

Grossman came to Johns Hopkins in 1996 and taught in the Department of Political Science in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences until his retirement in 2013. He remained active after his retirement as a member of the Academy, a Krieger School institute for advanced study made up of retired faculty members. In 2015, Grossman chaired a 14-member Task Force on Academic Freedom that was responsible for drafting a statement guiding academic freedom for the university community.

"Joel was a generous colleague, especially toward junior faculty, and deeply devoted to his students, undergraduates and graduate students alike," said Adam Sheingate, chair of the Department of Political Science.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Grossman earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Queen's College, CUNY. He received his master's and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Iowa. Before joining Johns Hopkins, he spent 33 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

He was the author or editor of five books, including The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, and he served as editor of the Law & Society Review. He wrote a number of influential articles on the courts and constitutional law.

Grossman received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association in 2005 and a teaching award from the Krieger School in 2007.

He was a devoted fan of the Yankees and the Wisconsin Badgers and enjoyed playing basketball.

"What I remember most about Joel was just how kind he was," said Steven David, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science and a longtime colleague of Grossman's. "In Yiddish, we would say he was a mensch—someone of sterling character who cared for others and warranted our trust. Like all who knew Joel, I will miss him. I hope the happy memories we have of him will be a comfort to us and to his family."

Grossman is survived by his wife of 53 years, Mary; two daughters, Joanna and Alison; son, Daniel; and five grandchildren.

Funeral services are private. Contributions in his memory may be sent to the ACLU or other charities that support civil liberties and the rights of those who are underrepresented in the legal system.

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