IU dedicates statue honoring late Distinguished Professor and Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom

From top: A bronze sculpture of Elinor Ostrom was unveiled in the Ostrom Commons Nov. 12; Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie speaks during the dedication ceremony for the Ostrom Commons and statue; Sculptor Michael McAuley, left, and McRobbie pose for a photo with the Ostrom statue.  Photos by Alex Kumar, Indiana University

For the first time in nearly eight months, a small group gathered in person on IU Bloomington's campus to celebrate the dedication of a statue honoring late Distinguished Professor and Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom.

"I have to say that after months and months of doing events like this over Zoom it is really wonderful to actually be able to do one live like this," McRobbie said.

It seemed fitting to be together for the historic moment. The sculpture of Ostrom is part of the Bicentennial Bridging the Visibility Gap Project, which seeks to tell the unknown stories of women and underrepresented people who've had an impact on IU. And Ostrom's impact is known worldwide. Among her many accomplishments, she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.

"In October of last year, many of you were with us in this very location as we dedicated the first Bicentennial historical marker on the Bloomington campus in honor of Lin," McRobbie said. "And today, Lin achieves yet another 'first' as we dedicate this Commons named in her honor and its splendid centerpiece sculpture—the first sculpture of a woman on the Bloomington campus."

Ostrom's impressive body of work, together with the work of her late husband, Vincent, formed a distinctive school of political-economic thought that is known around the world as "the Bloomington School." For nearly 50 years, the nexus of the Bloomington School has been IU’s renowned Ostrom Workshop, which the Ostroms established, and IU renamed in their honor in 2012.

IU alumnus Michael McAuley spent months sculpting Ostrom's likeness out of clay before it was cast in bronze. She sits on a bench with a welcoming smile, inviting students, staff and faculty to join her. The statue sits behind Woodburn Hall, in the newly-named Ostrom Commons.

"In the years and decades to come, the countless students, faculty, and visitors who pass through the Ostrom Commons will learn about Lin’s unfailing commitment to rigorous empirical and experimental research as they pause and reflect on the incredible impact of her life’s work on Indiana University and, indeed, the world," McRobbie said.

Read President McRobbie's remarks