IU scholar Sawyer honored in Liberia on 70th birthday

Longtime Indiana University faculty member Amos Sawyer turned 70 this month, and the occasion was a big deal in Liberia, his home country.

Amos Sawyer

Amos Sawyer

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, praised Sawyer at an international symposium held to celebrate his birthday. Sawyer, an affiliate faculty member and former co-director of IU’s Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, was interim president of Liberia from 1990-94.

In recent years he has chaired and served on the Governance Commission of Liberia at the appointment of the country’s president. According to a news release from the Liberian executive mansion:

 President Sirleaf observed that Dr. Sawyer in his political quest has not only been able to display exemplary leadership, but was also able to serve as a motivator and a leader who was able to simplify the most complex situations during his term as interim leader.

The Liberian Chief Executive pointed out that the former interim president has over the years also been able to demonstrate a spirit of humility as well as exhibit carefulness of thought, rationality and good reasoning. “He is an outstanding thinker; promoting peace, security and democracy has always been his interest,” President Sirleaf noted.

Also speaking at the symposium was Ghanaian diplomat Mohammed Ibn Chambas, former executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States, who cited Sawyer’s leadership as interim president in ending the nation’s 14-year civil war.

The event included the reading of a letter from IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel, thanking Sawyer for his service to Indiana University.

“Your three decades of contributions to the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis have helped to create deep and meaningful connections between the Bloomington campus and the international community, particularly the people of Liberia,” Robel wrote.

“Vincent and Elinor Ostrom shared your dedication to a more equitable and democratic Liberia, and I am certain they would be very proud of the strides you continue to make toward this most admirable goal. In fact the entire Bloomington campus shares this sense of pride.”

A political scientist by training, Sawyer has been associated with the Ostrom Workshop in various capacities since 1986. He gave the inaugural lecture in IU’s J. Gus Liebenow Memorial Lecture Series in 2001, marking the 40th anniversary of the university’s African Studies Program.

From 2005-07 he served as co-director of the Ostrom Workshop with Elinor Ostrom, who later would receive the Nobel Prize in economic sciences. Sawyer received the 2011 Gusi Peace Prize, an international award given to individuals who work for peace and respect for human life and dignity. He has served as an African Union observer of elections in Ghana and Nigeria.

Tags: , ,