Rita J. Simon, a professor at American University’s School of Public Affairs and Washington College of Law, died July 25 at the home of a son in Bloomington, Ind. She was 81.

The cause was cancer, said her daughter, Judith Garrett.

Dr. Simon, a Chevy Chase resident, had been on the AU faculty since 1983 and held the title of university professor. She was the former editor of three scholarly journals, American Sociological Review, Justice Quarterly and Gender Issues. She wrote or edited more than 60 books and 325 articles on topics including immigration, public opinion, and racial and gender justice.

For 19 years before coming to American University, Dr. Simon was a professor of sociology at the University of Illinois. She also taught at the University of Chicago and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

She served on the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics created by the secretary of education in 2002.

Rita Mintz was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1952 and received a doctorate in sociology at the University of Chicago in 1957.

Her marriage to Ralph James ended in divorce.

Her second husband, Julian Lincoln Simon, died in 1998 after 36 years of marriage.

Survivors include three children from her second marriage, David Simon of Chicago, Daniel Simon of Bloomington and Judith Garrett of Vienna; and 10 grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes