"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
“Lin Ostrom was the consummate College faculty member. While her Nobel Prize demonstrated that scholars around the world understood the importance of her work on economic governance and the commons, Lin’s contributions in service and teaching at IU were legion. Lin was the penultimate mentor whose guidance inspired generations of colleagues, graduate students and undergraduates. Thus, Lin defined the standard for the complete academic that will be matched by few and surpassed by none. IU and the College of Arts and Sciences has lost a truly remarkable person."
- Larry D. Singell, Dean and Professor of Economics, The College of Arts and Sciences
"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 contributed mightily to both the scholarship and the culture of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. We mourn her passing and take pride in her many accomplishments. Her legacy is her immeasurable impact on our students, our research and our world.”
- John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs
"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
"A great scholar has left, but her wisdom will always remain with us."
- Tore Ellingsen, Ragnar Söderberg Professor of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, member of Nobel Prize economics committee
"The world has lost a pioneer in systems level thinking in the social sciences. So many of our social ills and complexities today are the result of ignorance and Lin Ostrom worked to defeat that ignorance."
- Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University, where Ostrom was founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity
“Lin Ostrom was a wonderful example of not only a brilliant scientist who had a huge impact on her discipline and other disciplines but also someone who was a wonderful human being, who with all her accolades, remained modest, helpful to everybody who needed her help. She battled all the time in favor of transdisciplinarity, under sometimes very difficult circumstances.
“She set an intellectual example but also created at ASU this very special unit that looks at the interaction between the environment and society as mediated in institutions. That is one of the most advanced pieces of research in that domain that is actually in existence and we are extremely grateful to her for helping us set up the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, get its people and get the experiments ongoing.
“Lin was, moreover, I think for all of us at ASU, an absolute example of how to do science and how to do social science in particular.”
- Sander van der Leeuw, dean of the Arizona State University School of Sustainability
“I consider her as my scientific mother. I met Lin in September 2000 at a workshop of the resilience alliance in Stockholm. It was, and still is, difficult to do a transdisciplinary research program. She is an exemplar in her own field but also as an interdisciplinary scholar. Although such interdisciplinary work is often not appreciated by the traditional academic fields and might be a risky career path, I was stimulated to continue this avenue.
“In April, I spent a week with her in Bloomington. She had increasing challenges caused by the cancer treatment but did not want to have that as an excuse to miss a meeting with colleagues. In a world with a focus on status and pretentions, she was an exemplar by focusing on content.”
- Marco Janssen, director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at ASU and co-author with Ostrom of “Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice”
“The world knew Lin Ostrom as a Nobel Prize-winning political economist who championed collaborative management for shared natural resources. The profession of Political Science knew her as a path-breaking and prolific student of human organizations. Our department knew Lin as a colleague, mentor and friend for more than 46 years. She was indefatigable, generous with her time and expertise, and quite modest about her exceptional accomplishments. Lin’s loss is profound, and all of us deeply mourn her untimely passing. We know, though, that her work will continue at the Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis, a living demonstration of the efficacy of collaboration in pursuit of practical knowledge, a common good of the highest value.”
- Russell L. Hanson, chair of the Department of Political Science in The College of Arts and Sciences
“Lin was a towering figure in political science, economics, and in the study of people and community power. Closer to home, she was down-to-earth, considerate and kindly. She was also, always, a fighter -- from her early days struggling against sex discrimination to her later dedication to a vision of a new way to understand politics, economics, and communities, to her very private struggles in her last days. Her work as a scholar and visionary will long remain, as will my memory of her generous spirit.”
- Jean C. Robinson, executive associate dean and professor of political science in The College of Arts and Sciences
“Lin Ostrom’s impact on SPEA goes far beyond the important research collaborations she forged with graduate students and faculty. Her work on collective action, the management of the commons and even climate change policy reaches into many undergraduate classes in public and environmental affairs. It was so rewarding to give all of our students the unique opportunity to connect with this world-renowned and cross-disciplinary researcher.”
- Burnell Fischer, SPEA faculty member, longtime colleague and friend
“Elinor pioneered the study of informal, non-governmental institutions that people invent to ration their use of the ‘common, even in asymmetrical situations like upstream vs. downstream occupants of a river bank. What is known as the ‘free rider’ (non-cooperator) problem has found a number of solutions, voluntarily adopted, in a variety of cultures and environments. Elinor Ostrom ‘discovered’ this subject and revealed it to us with examples ranging from the simple to the sophisticated.”
- Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel laureate in economic sciences, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland
“Lin was more than respected by colleagues and students. She was and will be beloved by us with her extraordinary personal charm. She was such a great scientist but she was so amiable and easygoing, while few people have such characteristics. Studying with her was and will be the proudest experience in my life. We will never stop devoting our efforts to making a more sustainable and harmonious world, with Lin's glory.
- Lei Liu, prior visiting scholar (2009-2010) of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
“Since its establishment, the publishing of Transnational Corporations Review, advised by Lin, has intensively contributed to international and institutional economics. As a great mentor, Lin advised us that social and economic scientists must develop a number of tools for analyzing change, particularly that of institutions. Lin and Vincent Ostrom examine these changes in the context of the analysis of micro-and macro-institutions. Their understanding of institutional change convinced us that any general theory cannot be developed until the processes of change in multiple specific settings are understood. To sincerely appreciate Lin’s teaching, the TNCR will continue to actively support studies that successfully integrate what the Ostroms and their colleagues learned from specific institutions into a more general theory for understanding institutional changes and development.”
- Hugh Dang, first visiting scholar from Mainland China to the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in Indiana, USA, and managing editor of Transnational Corporations Review, Ottawa, Canada
“Many people, like me, who have never met her, feel a deep personal sense of loss. We need more Elinor Ostroms in this troubled world. It was possible, just from reading her work, to develop an affection for her as an intellectual, as a scholar and as a human being.”
- Tom Webb, adjunct professor, St. Mary’s University
“Lin Ostrom was my postdoctoral advisor from 2000 - 2002. I learned so much from her, it is difficult to enumerate all the ways she influenced my career. What I learned from Lin was the wonderful transdisciplinary research she practiced and involved all of us in. The whole research team met weekly. Graduate students up to senior professors sat around the table. No issue was ever tabled until everyone understood the basic principles, no matter how far it was from your personal disciplinary expertise. Consensus was always the goal, and dissension was productive. These are the primary lessons I have taken from my time with her. Most important was her warmth, her humanity. She was thrilled to meet my students, and called them her ‘grandchildren.’ We have suffered a great loss in her passing, but her impact will last for many generations.”
- Darla K. Munroe, associate professor, Department of Geography, Ohio State University
“Lin Ostrom was a scholar’s scholar, a wonderful mentor and teacher, and a devoted friend. Her loss and her legacy are equally immense. The Ostrom Workshop, along with its many friends around the world, must honor her memory by continuing and extending her work with the same inquisitive, open-minded, collaborative, careful, methodologically diverse, and interdisciplinary spirit she personified.”
- Dan Cole, professor, IU Maurer School of Law and IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs
“The world knew Lin Ostrom as a Nobel prize-winning political economist who championed collaborative management for shared natural resources. The profession of Political Science knew her as a path-breaking and prolific student of human organizations. Our department knew Lin as a colleague, mentor and friend for more than 46 years. She was indefatigable, generous with her time and expertise, and quite modest about her exceptional accomplishments. Lin’s loss is profound, and all of us deeply mourn her untimely passing. We know, though, that her work will continue at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, a living demonstration of the efficacy of collaboration in pursuit of practical knowledge, a common good of the highest value.”
- Russell L. Hanson, professor and chair, IU Bloomington Department of Political Science
“It was a real privilege to come to know Lin and the work of one of her enduring legacies on the campus of IU Bloomington, the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, and to learn from her, especially during the past year. Lin personified true wisdom, vast knowledge, tremendous courage, integrity, dignity, patience and compassion for all. As the great medieval Persian poet of my tradition, Saa’di Shirazi, has said:
Person of good name and repute shall never die
Dead are those who will not be remembered for good deeds
Lin has left us with her Good Name and huge gift of intellectual legacies to work with and build on for generations to come. I take comfort as a Muslim friend of Lin’s in the verse from the Qur’an that says, ‘We are of God and to Him we return.’”
- Nazif M. Shahrani, professor of anthropology, Central Asian and Middle Eastern studies, Indiana University Bloomington
“Lin Ostrom was an extraordinary person and a great scholar whose contributions to science have been praised not only within academia but also among those who, in a very practical sense struggle to make life better for others. Not many researchers have had such an impact. Lin Ostrom’s achievements will be felt for many generations to come.
“I first came in contact with Lin and Vincent Ostrom through their extensive publications but in 1995 I had the privilege of spending one academic year at the famous workshop in Bloomington. Lin immediately made all the newcomers part of the “workshop family.” No manuscript or sketch was too poor or unfinished to be taken seriously by her. Her generous and constructive criticism made us all feel a little better than we actually were.
“The Bloomington year was a wonderful time that not only had a significant impact on my academic career but also on my whole family. Lin was very concerned that we should all have a great time and my now grown-up up children still speak with warmth about this time in our lives. Later, I have had the privilege of having Lin as a guest in my home. One of these occasions is especially memorable and a good illustration of what kind of person Lin was. After finishing dinner at my summer house together with a small group of Swedish researchers, it was time to go back to the city. I had planned to leave all the dishes and return the following day to clean up. Lin protested and in one minute she had unrolled her sleeves and started washing up! No further protests were accepted.
“Lin was indeed a great person who addressed major and minor challenges with equal vigor and concern. She was a non-prestigious, humble and generous person. I will remember her not only as an extraordinary scholar but above all as a magnificent human being who has made the world a better place.”
- Lars Carlsson, professor in political science, Luleå University of Technology and Kristianstad University, Sweden
“Today (June 15, 2012), when opening the website of the Workshop as usual, I have gotten the sad news of the death of Elinor Ostrom at the age of 78. Indeed, we lost a great scholar of humanities and social sciences. I met Lin in summer 1995 when I was a visiting scholar from Mainland China at the Workshop. Lin and Vincent taught me how to do institutional analysis and design from macro- to micro-perspective. I didn’t finish the joint doctorate program of public policy, but Lin has been my role model. She is a great learned person across several fields such as political sciences, economics, anthropology, sociology, law, psychology, geography, resources management, and so on. Frankly speaking, I pretty much treasure the Achievement Award conferred by the Workshop on the academic exploration of why China seeks to develop a market economy. One thing is worthy to mention that in a memorandum to Lin in 1997 I said to Lin, ‘you will get Nobel Prize in political science rather than economics; just as Ronald Coase separates the firm from the market, you separate the community from the state.’ To conclude, ‘For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.’ (1 Tess 4:15) May our Lord bless Vincent Ostrom. Shalom.”
- Xin Zhang, associate professor, Renmin University of China, Beijing
“As a member of a vast group of people involved in the management of natural resources, we had the privilege to know Lin and to work with her team in Mexico. Her work on the Governance of Common Pool Resources provide us with a path of thinking, and a method of analysis; encouraged us to understand and to support the ongoing experiences of many forest communities all over Mexico, as well as to promote policies that recognize the meaning of forests as commons. We are deeply sad for her departure, but grateful to life for getting to know her. Saludos.”
- Patricia Gerez, professor, Universidad Veracruzana, and member of the Mexican Council for Sustainble Forestry, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
Clements, Margaret Mary firstname.lastname@example.org
“Lin Ostrom made the world a better place. Her scholarship, her spirit, her insight, and her example resides in each of us who had the privilege to know her. I miss her!”
- Margaret M. Clements, visiting scholar, School of Library and Information Science; director, Center for Knowledge Diffusion
“When I visited Lin Ostrom at her workshop in Bloomington during my sabbatical in 2006, she gave me a tour of the neighborhood where she and Vincent lived in Bloomington. When they had moved to the neighborhood, they had visited the local carpentry workshops to get furniture for their new home. Observing the meticulous, collaborative working practices of the local carpenters inspired the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.
“We have lost Lin Ostrom, but the ethos of the Workshop lives on.”
- Janne I. Hukkinen, professor of environmental policy, University of Helsinki, Finland
“(Using terminology and an example that Lin frequently used): Lin’s intellectual brilliance is widely recognized. But Lin was also an artisan at the highest level in the art of human relationships. The cabinet that represents my own relationship with her as one of her graduate students was built together and between us, and in my view was crafted to near perfection thanks to her mentoring and artisanship. And over her lifetime, she clearly co-produced an immense number of beautiful cabinets.”
- Charlie Schweik, associate professor, Department of Environmental Conservation, Center for Public Policy and Administration; associate director, National Center for Digital Government, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
“Many people who never met Elinor Ostrom will be feeling a deep sense of loss at the news of her death. I send my condolences to all her family, colleagues and students. Alongside the grief at her passing there is also immense gratitude for the ideas, evidence and inspiration we can find in her groundbreaking work. As a teacher and researcher in sustainable development and environmental politics and policy, I have found Elinor Ostrom to be a source of tremendous insights into the kinds of policy, institutions and values we need to overcome the crises of unsustainable economic systems.”
- Ian Christie, research fellow, Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK
“The first article I read by Elinor Ostrom was one of her recent articles (a response to Judge Posner) in JOIE on metropolitan governance. At that time I had just begun reading up on metropolitan governance for my research on Mumbai Region. The article written by her -- as I realized soon -- was a result of years of research on the subject along with her husband. Slowly and steadily her readings grew on my research, thinking and me. I wrote a couple of papers on polycentric governance in Mumbai and I sent one of them to her for comments, not expecting a response. To my utter shock I went online to go through my emails and I see a mail from Prof. Ostrom (one month after I sent her the draft). I could feel excitement and nervousness at the same time. Her comments fortunately were constructive and motivating.
“Prof Ostrom has greatly inspired my research. I was very humbled by her mail. The news came as a great shock to me. I just could not believe it. My dream was to meet her and maybe have a conversation with her on polycentric governance issues in Mumbai. I wanted to have her sign my copy of her book 'Governing the Commons'. You have taught me so much through your writings. I will miss you.”
- Sahil Gandhi, PhD candidate, Vibhooti Shukla Centre, Department of Economics, University of Mumbai
“One of my favorite memories of Lin occurred during my time as her (and soon Vincent's) graduate student. Lin often had students come to their amazing home with its many artifacts, incredible art and beautiful woods. On this occasion Vincent was out of town and Lin asked me to come to discuss a paper that I was writing. As I crested the hill that led to their home I thought I heard an orchestral concert. The music grew louder as I approached the house, nestled in an Indiana hollow -- so loud that Lin couldn't hear me knock. So, I went in and there was Lin, her back to me, hi-fi maxed, conducting Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. And she was good! I was astonished!
“We didn't talk about the paper. We talked about her mother, who had been symphony manager of the San Francisco Opera and her father, who had been a very well-known set designer on Broadway. We talked about music through the rest of that visit and many times later. She loved Chopin. I loved Hovahness. We traded our favorites. “I was blessed to be able to attend the Nobel Prize Concert with her. She loved every minute. She closed her eyes and, discreetly, with one hand conducted.
“She was astonished that I could get her entire music library on a nano -- a tiny hot-pink nano that she listened to in her hospital bed as she emailed, wrote recommendations, edited a co-authored paper and commented on dissertations until her body would do no more. Bless you Lin, always.”
- Barbara Allen, professor of political science, Carleton College
“Lin was a great scholar, a remarkable mentor and a wonderful human being. It was an honor and privilege to know and to work with her. I was so fortunate to study with Lin and Vincent and to have their constant and invaluable guidance, advice and help in pursuing my doctoral degree at Indiana University and beyond. Lin had a tremendous influence on my thinking and my career. I will try my best to carry on her legacy in China and, together with my Chinese colleagues associated with the Workshop, help the country move toward a self-governing society.”
- Jianxun Wang, associate professor of law, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing
“The world will laud Lin’s amazing productivity, intellectual brilliance and unmatched contributions to our understanding of common-pool resources and the organizational capacity of ordinary people. For those of us fortunate enough to know her, perhaps we will most treasure her warmth, humanity, and the support that she shared without reserve.
“I remember in my second year as a postdoc at CIPEC, which Lin co-directed, I was struggling to balance professional commitments with the demands of caring for a baby and maintaining a semblance of marriage as my husband and I juggled busy travel schedules. In an unguarded moment, I confessed to Lin that I wished I could find some moments for myself and maybe some exercise. A few days later, Lin asked me to join her for a swimming break at the recreational center during the noon hour. For the rest of the semester, we swam at noon once or twice a week when our travel schedules permitted. Walking to and from the pool, she shared moments from her childhood and young adult years, in which she overcame countless barriers to become one of the first women to pursue an academic career in political science. We also talked of our interests beyond our professional lives -- I was surprised to discover that she enjoyed wood-working and had made nearly all of the furniture in her home with Vincent. Lin showed by example that even the busiest of schedules and most complicated of lives – her own! – could accommodate intervals to strengthen the body, refresh the mind, and care for others.
“As a truly gifted teacher, mentor and leader, Lin appreciated her students, colleagues and staff as multifaceted human beings. She provided not only intellectual inspiration, but the example of living fully and finding time for the things in life that mattered as much or more than professional engagement. Although she seemed to dedicate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to her intellectual passions and commitments, Lin made it a priority to celebrate special events with friends and colleagues, open her home for potlucks, and visit with local groups that exemplified the institutional and organizational efforts that she admired. She leaves in her wake a plethora of transformative insights, emerging possibilities and innumerable lives inspired and touched by her example.
“Thank you, Lin.”
- Catherine Tucker, associate professor of anthropology, IU Bloomington
“It has been a privilege and such a great pleasure for us to have Lin as a close colleague and friend. We first met at the Beijer Institute's research program on property rights and natural resource systems in the early 1990s, and have interacted since then developing great friendship and trust. She has been a true source of inspiration. Her support in the development of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, advising us and serving on our board, has meant a lot and her engagement with young people supporting their pathways is exemplary.
“Lin's cooperative spirit, enthusiasm, engagements and her intellectual sharpness combined with curiosity and excitement about new ideas was simply unique. She was a true pioneer on interdisciplinary science for sustainability, working in such a robust and systematic fashion to progress knowledge and understanding. She inspired, interacted and collaborated with many colleagues here in Stockholm and was deeply engaged in research on social-ecological systems, robustness and resilience thinking with critical involvement in various phases of the Resilience Alliance. It is such a big loss.”
- Carl Folke, science director, Stockholm Resilience Centre
“Beyond her academic contributions, Lin Ostrom was a wonderful person with an amazing ability to bring out the best in others. At the Workshop, she created an environment that encouraged cross-fertilization and brainstorming. Her own enthusiastic engagement with her many projects served as an example to emulate. Despite her many projects, Lin was incredibly generous in giving time and attention to students, post-doctoral fellows, visiting scholars and collaborators. Her serious engagement with the work in progress -- and even still undeveloped ideas -- of others, along with her readiness to pitch in where relevant and appropriate, offered a powerful boost to an untold number of research projects and longer programs of study. Her generosity of spirit and personal warmth, as well as her creative energy, are sorely missed.”
- Amy Poteete, associate professor of political science, Concordia University, Montreal
“Lin was my adviser for my five years of graduate study here at IU. She understood a simple truth about science: It isn’t easy. That may not seem like much of a revelation, but anyone who deals regularly with scientists, researchers and academics will have met a sizable number who devote great effort to making their discoveries appear effortless. So clever, those scientists. Brilliance is a wonderful thing, and Lin was undoubtedly brilliant, but she didn’t rely on native faculty alone. She worked hard. She worked hard often, and she worked on narrowly focused, well defined questions. No skipping ahead to the grand, sexy topics. Research done right is a humble person’s profession. Lin was a humble person who – after years of asking difficult and oft-neglected questions – taught the world some bold lessons. She is gone now, but there remain so many questions that need asking. Answering those questions will be more difficult without Lin. All the more reason to follow her example and get to work.”
- Jacob Bower-Bir, Ph.D. student, IU Bloomington
“I met Lin at the meeting of the scientific committee of the International Human Dimensions Program on Global Environmental Change in 2003. Since then, she has turned my professional career to the area of commons. She initiated the foundation of our Center for Transdisciplinary Studies during her first visit in Slovakia in 2007 and supervised the creation of our partnership with the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University. We have lost part of our heart with her passing. Dear Lin, You will be missed enormously, but we will continue to honor your work by furthering research on multiple methods for environmental governance and collective actions in Central Europe.”
- Tatiana Kluvánková-Oravská, Centre for Transdisciplinary Studies of Institutions, Evolution and Policies, Bratislava, Slovakia