February 17, 2009

Margaret Rosenheim, former SSA dean, dead at 82

Margaret Rosenheim (J.D. ’49), former dean of the School of the Social Service Administration who specialized in juvenile justice, died last Monday in San Francisco. She was 82.Rosenheim was known for her extensive work on juvenile delinquency and child welfare. She coined the term “juvenile nuisance” to describe youths who commit minor offenses and proposed a system of social service assistance and supportive rehabilitation for such cases, as opposed to handing them over to juvenile detention centers where they would be branded criminals.“The notion of the juvenile nuisance as someone who can be guided into a better course was very important,” said Jeanne Marsh, SSA dean and Rosenheim's former colleague. “There was a level of compassion in her work as well as high scholarly standards. Her scholarship was very consistent with the people who started the SSA.”An attentive and engaging professor, Rosenheim was awarded the Norman Maclean Faculty Award for outstanding teaching. “She was a revered teacher,” Marsh said. “Students were very fond of her. She has students around the world who still talk about her social welfare policy courses.”Rosenheim became a faculty member in 1950, Director of the Center for the Study of Welfare Policy from 1969-72, and then Dean of Social Service Administration from 1978-83 before her retirement in 1996. She was also at times a policy consultant to various government agencies during these years, and she advocated the use of neighborhood panels to deal with minor juvenile offenders. She was named the Helen Ross Professor of Social Welfare Policy in 1975.“She was a remarkable citizen of the University,” Marsh said. “She really exemplified the best in a faculty member at the U of C, a great scholar and a great teacher, a warm and genuine person.”

Rosenheim is survived by her three sons.