Harris George Mirkin

Harris George Mirkin, 76, of Kansas City, Missouri, passed away at home on May 30, 2013. Harris was born in New York City in 1936 to the late Samuel and Rae (Greenberg) Mirkin. He earned his B.A at Hobart College (1957), his M.A. at the New School for Social Research (1960), and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1967. Between his M.A. and Ph.D. he and his first wife, Lois Sue Mirkin, were part of the Ethiopia I Project as Peace Corp Volunteers (1962-1964).

During Harris’ 45 years of teaching Political Science at UMKC as an Associate Professor of Political Science, he served the University as Co-Director of the UMKC Honors Program (1987-2000), Secretary and Chairman of the Faculty Senate as well as the College of Arts & Sciences and Chairman of the Political Science Department.

He also taught and influenced the hundreds of students he advised, who participated in the Honors Program, and who took his courses in American Political Thought, Political Philosophy, Politics of Sex and Gender over the years.

Harris was an avid bicycle rider and a wonderful man–so full of intelligence, humor and fun. He was a real presence and contributor to political discourse and understanding in our community. Harris was a decent human being, a devoted husband, father and grandfather He always displayed a friendly face.

Harris is survived by his wife, Kathleen Finegan, his daughter Abby Mueller and son-in-law Tim Mueller (of Kansas City); grandsons Hunter and Carson Mueller; his son Timothy Nufire (of San Francisco) and daughter-in-law Ali Nufire; and his sister Lila Fisch (of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey).

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Professor Harris Mirkin Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment Fund, UMKC Foundation, c/o Karen English, SH 107, 5100 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110

A memorial service will be planned for the fall at UMKC. Notice of the time and place will be posted in the Kansas City Star’s Classified Funeral Notices.


  1. Julianne Clark on September 29, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Dear Family members,

    I was honored to be Dr. Mirkin’s student. He was an amazing mentor, professor, and friend. He was always willing to give an ear and advice. He will be greatly missed. My warm thoughts go out to his family.

    Warm regards,


  2. Bruce Rodgers on June 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I remember only good things about Harris Mirkin. His classes made me think, helped me adjust to a return to civilian life in the early 1970s and the generosity of his intellect gave me memories that have yet left me. My best to his family.

  3. John Burrows on June 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I met Harris in 1985, as an undergraduate political science student. At that time I was struggling in school and suffering from the recent loss of my father. I was rudderless and he could sense it. With his irreverent style, Harris took me under his wing and asked me “What do you want to do?” I responded flippantly that I wanted to get as far away from Kansas City as possible. He asked me if I would like to do research in East Africa. I looked at him incredulously and asked if he was serious. He assured me that he was, and then he challenged me to focus on improving my grades and helped me to develop my writing and research skills. He introduced me to the InterFuture Program where I ended up doing research in Kenya. His support and guidance resulted in my acceptance to Iowa State and the University of Georgia anthropology programs. Much of my life has been influenced by Harris’ kind intervention back in 1985-1989. He had a profound impact on my life when I truly needed it, and I can only imagine the number of individuals that have benefited from his guidance, wit and caring insight.

    My heart is broken by his passing and I wish his family grace and comfort in this time of loss. I suspect that his silent wish to those students and colleagues that he influenced, would be to step up and provide guidance and mentorship to others. Assist those that are struggling and provide access to resources that will allow for individuals to achieve their goals and improve the human and environmental condition. I’ve made it my life’s work to help others to increase their competency and capacity with regard to life skills.

    Harris – thank you for the guidance and challenge.

  4. Linda Kay Davis on June 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Kathy and family, I am so deeply sorry. I saw Harris last fall a couple of times and he was warm and friendly as always. Our community has lost a wonderful person.

  5. Judy Clause on June 13, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Kathy and Abby,

    I will miss seeing Harris riding down Rockhill on his bike and teasing him about looking so much like Albert Einstein. My daughter, Kim, took one of his courses at UMKC and said it was one of the most rigorous and interesting courses she ever took. We enjoyed seeing him at Lincoln College Prep band concerts where our respective grandsons played in the Wind Ensemble. We fondly remember meeting him through the Foolkiller so long ago where we engaged in philosophical discussions, put on homegrown plays and reveled in folk music. We were idealistic youth, but Harris seemed to embody that spirit in his work and daily living. Bill and I send our sympathy to your family at this time. Know that Harris held a special place in the hearts of all who knew him.

  6. Steve Glorioso on June 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Dr. Mirkin was one of my most favorite professors when I was in graduate school at UMKC.
    He was an inspiration to me to go into politics as a noble endeavor.
    I lived on Charlotte Street at 58th street and for many years he would ride his bike up the street. If I was on the porch I would yell out, “hey, Professor Mirkin”. He would wave and keep on peddling!

  7. Carol Frevert on June 12, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I hope that you are feeling God’s love and comfort holding you during this difficult time of loss. Please know I will be praying for peace for you.

  8. Kaitlin Claren on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I am sorry to hear about the passing of the professor. During the brief time I knew him he was a kind and inspiration figure.

  9. Annette Haynes on June 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Kathy and family, I want to tell you how sorry I am for Harris’ passing. He was such an extraordinary man and I enjoyed our friendship over the years. He was bright, articulate and creative and shared so much with his students and all who knew him. He will be missed.

  10. Ann Hubbard on June 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Harris was my chair for 12 years. He was wonderful to work for, so kind to me and so dedicated to teaching. 45 years of UMKC students were touched by his love of education – not just teaching facts but showing students how to think for themselves. His respect for learning can’t be overstated. But his family was his heart and soul and his love for them was boundless. He lived his life well and will not be forgotten.

  11. robert willson on June 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Harris was the first non-English department faculty members I met after coming to UMKC. He was friendly, engaging, and supportive, stressing the value of American fiction he assigned in his political thought course. He was a good ally and friend as we fought the good fight for the humanities in the College. He loved what he did and conveyed that passion to all who knew him. I will miss him.

  12. Kim Kanzelberger on June 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Kathleen, you have my heartfelt condolences for your loss.

  13. Jim Brown on June 9, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Dr. Mirkin was one of the major influences in my life. He was a marvelous teacher who not only covered the material but demanded independent thought and analysis. He was completely engaged in the courses he taught and the students he inspired. He touched so many lives in a positive way that he will never be forgotten.

  14. Donald Harris on June 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Professor Mirkin was an amazing man and teacher, extremely generous with his time and always treated you with respect.

  15. Dennis Winton on June 8, 2013 at 8:52 am

    All of us at UMKC has lost a family member, however our memories of him will survive. My blessings and thoughts are thoughts are with his family.

  16. Martha Kropf on June 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I worked with Harris for several years. He was absolutely devoted to his family, and especially his grandsons. Not only did I have much respect for him, but he made me smile.

  17. Sarah Reboli on June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I had Dr. Mirking in my senior at UMKC as a Poly-Sci major for several classes. He was a great professor who inspired numerous students with his thoughtful and interesting views. I am so sorry for your loss. He will be missed.

    Sarah Reboli

  18. Andria Stokes on June 7, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Please know I’ve been thinking of you and your family this past year and hope peace has entered everyone. I am sorry for your loss.

  19. Lindee Petersen Wilson on June 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Dear Kathleen;
    Sending heartfelt and sincere condolences on the passing of your husband. May memories comfort you and your family in this time of sorrow and loss. It sounds like Harris was a wonderful person and lives on in the lives of his many students, friends and family. With deep sympathy, Lindee

  20. Linda Strelluf on June 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    My heart is with you. May God help you through your loss.

  21. Lynda Payne on June 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Our thoughts are with you, Harris was a wonderful colleague, Lynda and Bill

  22. JoAnn Immele on June 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
    JoAnn Immele

  23. Becky Nichols on June 5, 2013 at 10:46 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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