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Justin Grossman

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 26 March 2021, of Justin Grossman, formerly of the Department of Social Sciences.  The following tribute has been produced by drawing on the appreciation on retirement published in The University of Leeds Review, and written by Professor David Beetham.

Justin came to the Department of Social Sciences in 1960 as a temporary lecturer in public administration.  After doctoral work at the LSE he was on his way back to his native United States, where he had earlier held posts as research assistant at UCLA and as a field representative of the California Committee for fair employment practices.  It was Leeds’ good fortune that he was persuaded to stay by Professor Grebenik, who recognised at once his exceptional qualities as a teacher and departmental colleague. 

From 1962 until his early retirement Justin was responsible for the teaching of political and social theory, a task to which he brought both philosophical rigour and historical breadth, a combination of the highest academic standards with a deep concern for student welfare.  Always generous with his time, he gave the interests of students first claim on his attention, and first priority in the Department’s affairs.  He served as a mainstay to successive professors in the administration of the Department, acting as Head of Division in 1971-72, and as Head of Department in 1973 and from 1977 to 1980.

It is for his contribution at University level, however, that Justin will be most widely remembered.  After service on a number of University committees, he was elected Dean of Economic and Social Studies from 1972 to 1974, and Chairman of the Board of Faculties from 1978 to 1980, one of the rare examples of a non-professorial appointment to that post. Among other important committees on which he served was the Joint Group on Selective Economies.  A person of wide culture, generous sympathies and mature judgement, he had the rare capacity to be critical without causing offence, and to sustain a principle without losing sight of practicalities.  He was held in respect and affection by colleagues in all parts of the University.

Justin retired in 1983 after a long and fruitful career.  Upon retirement the title and status of Life Fellow was bestowed upon him, and he was a regular and gregarious attender at the Life Fellows’ social functions.  Even in retirement he continued to take a keen interest in fine art and the University Gallery, and was instrumental in founding, in 1989, the Friends of University Art and Music (Leeds) with Jillian Rennie, Maurice Kirk and Professor Julian Rushton. He continued his association with FUAM for a number of years, guiding its establishment as a charitable trust and serving as a Committee member and later as a Trustee.

A private cremation was held on Monday 12 April, on which day the flag on the Parkinson Building was flown at half-mast in his memory.