Dr. Irwin Herman Polishook

March 5, 1935September 15, 2019

Irwin H. Polishook was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 5, 1935. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brooklyn College in 1956 with Honors in History and Political Science, an A.M. in history from Brown University in 1958, and a PhD in History from Northwestern University in 1961. He began his teaching career at Hunter College in September of 1961 and continued at Lehman College when it became an independent institution. Dr. Polishook published two books, Roger Williams, John Cotton and Religious Freedom: A Controversy in New and Old England and Rhode Island and the Union 1774-1795 as well as numerous articles on scholarly, higher education, and union issues. He co-founded the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union for the City University of New York, and served as its President from 1976-2000, a Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, Chair of the AFT Higher Education Program and Policy Council, Member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the New York State United Teachers, Vice-Chair and Member of the Municipal Labor Committee Steering Committee, and was an officer of the American Association of University Professors.

Dr. Polishook was an active member and former trustee of Temple Emeth, in Teaneck, New Jersey, and an early advocate for the cause of Soviet Jewry.

There are many who benefitted from his work and remember him fondly. He was modest in his achievements and always wondered whether he could have done more to benefit those who trusted him.

Dr. Polishook is survived by Sheila, his wife of more than 61 years, his son Lewis, his daughter-in-law Susan Sapiro, and the loves of his life, his granddaughters Aliza and Bina.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Polishook family.


  • In Memory of Dr. Irwin H. Polishook donations to the Belle Zeller Scholarship Trust Fund


  • Funeral Service Completed Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Dr. Irwin Herman Polishook

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Carlos Hargraves

September 17, 2019

Irwin, along with Howard Jones and Arnold Cantor helped me get through one of my more difficult periods of employment at the City University of NY. I was being retrenched from Hostos Community College management team for political reasons and for being a outspoken critic of the administration of the college. Eventually, the then chancellor of CUNY Ann Reynolds and Herman Badillo over ruled the action because there was no financial emergency that demanded retrenchment of personnel. Later Irwin named me as a lobbyist for the PSC and I would accompany Irwin and Howard to Albany and Washington DC to seek additional monetary support for the university from our
legislative leaders. I retired from CUNY in 2006 after a combination of 36 years of service at BMCC and Hostos and was fortunate enough to establish a second career as a SAG/AFTRA Background Actor; however if it were not for Irwin, Howard and Arnold my life would have been far different from what it is today. RIP IRWIN, you have earned your seat in heaven for all your good deeds and accomplishments in this world and God Bless your family for sharing a remarkable man with all of us.