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Irwin Oreskes, Hunter College professor, dies

Irwin Oreskes, a professor emeritus at Hunter College who studied biochemistry and taught laboratory science, has died at age 86.

Oreskes suffered a brain hemorrhage after a fall and died on Friday in Manhattan. He was on the City University of New York doctoral faculty until he retired from Hunter in 2003. He was a beloved teacher and mentor to generations of students.

In 1970, Oreskes founded the college's Medical Laboratory Sciences Program, the largest clinical technology program in New York State. The program was a building block for the School of Health Sciences, which opened in 1974 at the Brookdale Health Science Center. Oreskes served as the school's dean for several years.

Former Hunter College president Paul LeClerc said Oreskes was "one of the single best faculty members I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with. He was smart, principled, balanced in his judgments, totally dedicated to the welfare of Hunter College and its students and a source of unfailingly wise counsel to me."

Oreskes took pride in the economically disadvantaged students, minorities, immigrants and women he mentored and encouraged in their academic and professional careers.

He was a member of the American Association of Immunologists, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and the American College of Rheumatology. He co-authored the book "Rheumatology for the Health Care Professional." Much of his scientific research was devoted to the immunology of rheumatoid factor and altered immunoglobulin G in rheumatic diseases.

A 1949 graduate of City College, Oreskes received a master's degree from Brooklyn College and a doctorate from CUNY. He served in the Army during World War II.

Oreskes believed in the power of scientific thinking and the free public education offered by New York City, said his son Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor at The Associated Press.

"He was a product of that education: an immigrant's kid who learned to be a scientist," Michael Oreskes said. "And he carried on that tradition by building a school at City University that gave immigrants and their kids a path to success in America."

Besides his son, Irwin Oreskes is survived by his wife, Susan Oreskes; daughters Naomi Oreskes and Rebecca Oreskes; son Daniel Oreskes, and five grandchildren.

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