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IU scholar Vincent Ostrom dies at 92

POSTED AT 02:11 PM ON Jun. 30, 2012  (UPDATED AT 02:24 PM ON Jun. 30, 2012)

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Vincent Ostrom, a distinguished IU scholar and expert on democratic governance, died Friday. He was 92.

Ostrom was the husband of Nobel laureate and Time 100 honoree Elinor Ostrom. Elinor died less than three weeks ago following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

"Vincent's death, especially coming so soon after his wife Lin's passing, is an inestimable and tragic loss to the university and to the broad fields of political theory, social-science and policy-based interdisciplinary research," IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement Saturday.

Ostrom was his wife's biggest supporter, McRobbie said, but Elinor was always quick to point out the effect her husband had on her own success.

Ostrom had an impressive body of scholarly work himself, pioneering work on polycentric governance in the 1950s, helping draft Article VIII on Natural Resources of the Alaska Constitution and consulting as a member of resource management commissions in three different states.

"Vincent was an internationally acclaimed scholar and highly respected teacher who had a tremendous influence on the study of institutions and societal governance, and who spread that influence broadly through the work of his students and colleagues," McRobbie said.

In 1973, Ostrom founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis with his wife, encouraging a collaborative style of transdisciplinary work called the "Bloomington School."  The workshop was renamed to honor the Ostroms in 2012.

It was at the Workshop that Ostrom proudly watched his wife accept her Nobel Prize on closed circuit television. Heath problems prevented him from traveling to Stockholm.

"Vincent's was a distinctive voice in the fields of public administration and political philosophy," Michael McGinnis, director of the Workshop, said in a press release. "For Vincent, politics was all about solving practical problems and realizing shared aspirations. His conceptual vision of the remarkable ability of communities to govern themselves laid the foundation for the extensive program of empirical research that earned Lin the 2009 Nobel Prize. They made a great team, both as scholars and as spouses. Each was devoted to the other until the very end."

There will be no funeral service for Vincent Ostrom, but a memorial event is being planned to honor both Ostroms on Oct. 15.

For a more in-depth look at Vincent Ostrom's life, read Monday's Indiana Daily Student.

- Jake New

 

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