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Indiana University

"Indiana University has lost an irreplaceable and magnificent treasure with the passing of Elinor Ostrom. Throughout her lifetime, Lin has brought distinction to the university through her groundbreaking work, which received the ultimate recognition in 2009 when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

"Beyond her passion for the epochal academic study of the intersections between economics and societal institutions, which she and her husband, Vincent, pursued throughout their remarkable careers at Indiana University, Lin's love for her students and the enduring support she has provided to her colleagues will leave a lasting legacy that stretches well beyond IU. Their generosity to Indiana University was extraordinary as well, with gifts, including Lin's Nobel Prize funds, totaling many millions of dollars.

"We are proud that Lin's life work will continue to be represented through the efforts of those at the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, and I am especially honored to have called Lin a friend and colleague. The entire Indiana University community joins me in offering its deepest sympathies to Lin's husband and outstanding faculty member, Vincent, and to her family."
- Michael A. McRobbie, President of Indiana University

"Lin Ostrom was an exemplary citizen of the Bloomington campus. Along with her husband, Vincent, she was extraordinarily generous with her intellectual gifts, and invited interdisciplinary and innovative collaboration with her colleagues across the campus through the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

"Beyond her incredible achievements as a scholar, she was also remarkable for her humility, kindness and boundless curiosity. We have been exceptionally fortunate that Lin made her academic home here on this campus. Although she will be deeply missed, we take comfort in knowing that her work on the campus will carry on through the Workshop that now bears her and Vincent's names."
- Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and university executive vice president

"Our dear friend Lin may have left us, but her spirit, and her work, will live on in those of us fortunate to have known her as a colleague and mentor. Now it's our responsibility to carry on her legacy, and that of Vincent."
- Michael McGinnis, director of the Workshop and IU professor of political science

"Elinor Ostrom was a great human being, an inspiring teacher and colleague, and an accomplished social scientist. She had a wonderful sense of joy about the importance of her work that she successfully communicated to others. It was my privilege to share the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with her. Her person and her research will be remembered forever."
- Oliver Williamson, professor emeritus, University of California Berkeley, and co-recipient with Ostrom of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

"I was privileged to have taken a class with Dr. Ostrom, one I’ve actually remembered and applied in the years since. It was a special honor and delight to meet her again two years ago at the IU Foundation Women’s Colloquium. What a humbling turnabout when I noticed her sitting near the front in the audience in a lecture hall when I was the one standing at the lectern, but she laughed at the funny parts. “I’ve been privileged in my career to meet some truly great people. In fact, the first person I ever interviewed was also a Nobel Laureate! But greatness rarely comes with such easygoing humanity and generosity of spirit as with Elinor Ostrom. I guess she wasn’t born a Hoosier, but evidently she knew home when she’d found it. What a blessing she was to the IU community."
- Jane Pauley, IU alumna, 1972

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Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate


Indiana University Distinguished Professor Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences, died at 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, June 12, 2012, at IU Health Bloomington Hospital at the age of 78 after a battle with cancer.

She was senior research director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Ostrom received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her groundbreaking research demonstrating that ordinary people are capable of creating rules and institutions that allow for the sustainable and equitable management of shared resources. She shared the prize with Oliver Williamson, a University of California economist.

The recipient of numerous international awards and honorary degrees, Ostrom was selected in April as one of the Time 100 for 2012, Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. In May, the IU Board of Trustees renamed the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis to honor Elinor Ostrom and her husband and colleague, Vincent Ostrom, who founded the center in 1973.

Vincent Ostrom died on June 29, 2012. The Ostroms are survived by an international extended family of colleagues, collaborators, staff and friends who worked closely with them during their extraordinary careers.

IU community mourns passing of Distinguished Professor and Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom

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