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Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom to speak at IU Bloomington graduate commencement

April 8, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University faculty member Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics, will address students receiving graduate degrees at the 2010 Indiana University Bloomington commencement ceremony.

The graduate commencement ceremony, for all post-baccalaureate degree candidates, will take place at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 7, at Assembly Hall. Separate ceremonies for students receiving undergraduate degrees will take place May 8.

"There could be no better person to address IU Bloomington students receiving graduate and professional degrees, as we honor their accomplishments and celebrate their promise for the future," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Lin Ostrom has been a prolific scholar and generous colleague through more than four decades at IU. She has also been a dedicated teacher and mentor, chairing or serving on dissertation and advisory committees for more than 130 Ph.D. students and taking a continued interest in their careers and scholarship."

Elinor Ostrom

Photo by Ric Cradick

Elinor Ostrom

Print-Quality Photo

Ostrom is Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. She is also a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington and senior research director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, which she and Vincent Ostrom founded in 1973-74.

In December 2009, she received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, also known as the Nobel Prize in Economics, for decades of research that challenges the belief that common property is always poorly managed and should be regulated by the state or privatized.

"Lin Ostrom has brought honor and esteem to Indiana University for 45 years," said IU Bloomington Provost and University Executive Vice President Karen Hanson. "She is well known for her close relationships with graduate students and her generous and unwavering support of their research, so her selection as commencement speaker is particularly appropriate. To have the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics address the graduates would be a coup for any university; we are especially thrilled because Lin is one of IU's own."

Russell Hanson, chairman of the Department of Political Science, noted that the department has twice successfully nominated Ostrom for IU Trustees' Teaching Awards in recognition of her exceptional contributions to graduate training in political science, public administration and environmental management.

"Lin Ostrom is the world's leading expert on the cooperative management of common-pool resources. We at Indiana University Bloomington also know her as an extraordinary mentor of post-doctoral fellows and graduate students," he said. "Indeed the Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis is a prime example of how to share the collective wisdom of this generation of scholars with the next."

An Indiana University faculty member since 1965, Ostrom also is Research Professor and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society and a recipient of the Reimar Lüst Award for International Scholarly and Cultural Exchange and many other awards.

McRobbie presented the University Medal to Elinor Ostrom and Vincent Ostrom, her husband and colleague, in February 2010. The medal honors individuals for singular or noteworthy contributions, including service to the university and achievement in arts, letters, science and law, and is the only IU medal that requires approval from the Board of Trustees.

She served as president of the Public Choice Society from 1982-84 and president of the American Political Science Association in 1996-97. She was the first woman to chair the IU Bloomington Department of Political Science, which she led 1980-84.

Ostrom received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1954; her M.A. from UCLA in 1962; and her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1965.

She is the author of numerous books and articles, including Governing the Commons (1990); Understanding Institutional Diversity (2005); The Samaritan's Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid (2005, with Clark Gibson, Krister Andersson, and Sujai Shivakumar); and Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice (forthcoming in 2010, with Amy Poteete and Marco Janssen).

For more information about the 2010 Indiana University commencement ceremonies, see