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Thursday, April 07, 2016
UID Mourns Prominent Supporter Lester Thurow





It's with tremendous sadness that the United in Diversity Foundation (UID) shares the passing of our great supporter and world-renown economist Lester Thurow. As stated on Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) website, Prof. Thurow died on Friday, 25 March, at his home in Westport, Mass. He was 77. He is survived by survived by his wife, Anni; his brother, Chuck; his sons, Torben and Ethan, and daughters-in-law, Kornelia and Ina; his step-children, Yaron and Yael; and his seven grandchildren.

His CV was more than impressive. After earning a BA in political economy from Williams College, he won a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University where he read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE). After Oxford, he went on to Harvard University where he got his Ph.D in economics and began his teaching career.

In 1968, Thurow moved to MIT. In addition to a long-lasting professorship of management and economics, he also served as dean of the Intitute's Sloan School of Management from 1987 to 1993.

"As a member of the faculty, as dean of MIT Sloan, as a successful author, and as an advisor to political giants, he embodied MIT’s mission to advance knowledge and educate students in service to the nation and the world. He left an indelible mark in the world of economic policy, and his pioneering instinct for building connections with people, institutions, and ideas around the world is woven deep into the daily life of MIT," said MIT president L. Rafael Reif.

Indeed, Thurow was a legend in the realm of debates on economics and public policy. He had a passion for public education on economic matters--particularly labor, income gaps, and (un)employment.

Speaking of his failure to become an economic advisor in the Carter Administration in the 1970's, Thurow said: "I decided that if I could not have the king’s ear, I would talk to the public. That’s the other way to have an impact on the economic system."

More than anyone else, Thurow understood so well the pros and cons of globalisation. But he believed strongly in engaging leaders from different sectors in partnerships that can help reduce the dismal effects of globalisation and bring about fairer outcomes for all parties.
“There is no silver bullet, but there are many things that we can do to make globalization more inclusive than it would be if we just sat back and let it happen,” Thurow said in a CIO magazine in a 2003 interview.

This is a belief that he shared deeply with the United in Diversity Foundation:
"We, at MIT Sloan School, are strongly behind this Forum [UID] as a way to make a statement about the critical role of the private sector in Indonesia, to foster cooperation among diverse interests, and particularly to initiate a learning process which we hope will benefit all interests in building the potential of Indonesia."

He showed his belief in Indonesia and UID at a time when we were facing tremendous adversity by speaking at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC, alongside with former World Bank president James Wolfensohn in support of UID foundation. More importantly, despite his overwhelmed schedule, he went to our founding conference in Bali in 2003 and pledged his support for UID before then Indonesian current and former presidents and 300 world leaders from business, public and private sectors.


MIT Sloan Dean Emeritus Lester Thurow conferred with UID trustee Aristide Katoppo (left) during the opening plenary session of our Bali forum in 2003.


As UID grew over time, Lester continued giving his support for our foundation and activities, especially the IDEAS (Innovative, Dynamic Education for Action and Sustainability), an executive empowering program that we have been offering under the leadership of MIT faculty Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer. In addition to our IDEAS program in Indonesia, we have also benefitted from Lester's alongside UID advisor Alan White’s influence and support in building our IDEAS program in China.


Lester Thurow posed for a group photo with UID trustee Cherie Nursalim, MIT Professor Otto Scharmer, UID US president Jane Pratt and IDEAS facilitators and fellows.


We can never thank you enough, Lester, for what you have done for us. And as we join your family, the MIT community, and friends in mourning you, we are reminded of, and take comfort in, the legacy that you leave behind.

As MIT president Reif put it: "[You] left an indelible mark in the world of economic policy, and his pioneering instinct for building connections with people, institutions, and ideas around the world is woven deep into the daily life of MIT." And we cannot agree more.


May you rest in peace, Lester.


The United in Diversity Foundation


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