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Roslyn Muraskin, criminal justice prof, dies

Dr. Roz Muraskin was the founding director of

Dr. Roz Muraskin was the founding director of the Long Island Women's Institute. (April 22, 2012) Photo Credit: Courtesy LIU Post

With a diagnosis of late-stage ovarian cancer, no one would have faulted Roslyn Muraskin for stepping back from her work as a criminal justice professor at LIU Post.

Instead, the Middle Island resident and women's rights advocate added to her course load. She remained in class through last Tuesday, four days before she died Saturday at age 71.

"This fall, she was slated to teach more than she ever had, which was bizarre," said Harvey Kushner, longtime chairman of the criminal justice department. "I have faculty that get a cold and are missing, but Roz had an almost battlefield-type of determinedness."

Muraskin, who'd already beaten breast cancer, remained heavily involved in all aspects of her job after learning she had ovarian cancer in 2010. She kept monthly meetings of the Long Island Women's Institute she founded in 1991, and remained accessible to advise independent-studies students.

Her son, Seth, 42, of Smithtown, called her a "trailblazer" for highlighting the issues faced by women and juveniles in the criminal justice system, and for championing women's workplace rights.

"You take it for granted today," he said, "but it was people like her who were on the front line for these causes 25 years ago, when we weren't talking about them."

Muraskin, who was born in Manhattan and raised her family in Wantagh, held a doctorate in criminal justice from The Graduate Center of City University of New York. She was author or co-author of more than 15 scholarly works, including the books "It's a Crime: Women and Justice" and "Morality and Law."

She began at Post in 1980 and, in addition to teaching criminal justice, once served as associate dean of the College of Management. Kushner called her "a beacon of light for a ship in the darkness: students could always count on her."

To illustrate that point, Seth Muraskin noted that his mother even took time last Wednesday, after being admitted to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, to complete details of a criminal justice department event for honor society students.

"She loved what she was doing," he said, "and did it right up to the end."

Besides her son, Muraskin is also survived by her husband, Matthew, a former Nassau Legal Aid Society chief; children, Craig Muraskin and Tracy Birkhahn; six grandchildren; her mother, Alice Cashman; and a brother, Richard.

A funeral is planned for Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Gutterman's Funeral Home, 8000 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury. Burial will follow at United Hebrew Cemetery in Staten Island.

The family requests that any donations be made to ovarian cancer research.

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