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University community mourns Élie, Haiti’s top sociologist

By Juhakenson Blaise

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The death of Sociology Professor Jean Renol Élie, who was diagnosed with kidney failure, has left Haiti’s public university community in mourning. Élie is known for his extensive research on agrarian structures, cooperatives, peasant organizations, decentralization and civic participation in Haiti. He was 70.

The University of the State of Haiti, or UEH by its French acronym, announced Élie was there for more than 30 years.

“The departure of the sociologist will create a great vacuum in the academic community in Haiti,” Camille Charlmers, a fellow professor at the school, said.

Charlmers, who collaborated with Élie during the 1980s, remembers the sociologist as a high-ranking intellectual who was modest and possessed great conviction. He said Élie, throughout his life, advocated for the production of goods locally, particularly in the textile industry.

Élie graduated from the law program at UEH. He held a master in development sciences and a master in sociology at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Mexico.

From 1998 to 2002, Élie was the assistant dean for academic affairs in the UEH Executive Council. According to online publication Alter Presse, Élie was a former coordinator of the Fasch Council. In this position, he distinguished himself by setting up a new credit system and modernizing education.

For Élie’s students, like Joseph Nicolas, his participation in their academic career was very beneficial to them.

“Élie’s death is also a blow for me as a student, for UEH students and also for the country,” said Nicolas, a graduating student at the Faculty of Human Sciences.

“Élie was an example of an intellectual to follow who put his knowledge at the service of the younger generations,” Nicolas added.

“I am saddened by the news. I have worked with Elie for more than thirty years as a student while preparing my thesis for my bachelor in Social Work,” said University professor Jérôme Paul Eddy Lacoste. 

Lacoste later worked with Elie after his studies abroad. They both contributed in setting up the new teaching curriculum for FASCH as a member of the Council of the said faculty.

Professor Elie was born in Cayes-Jamel, in Haiti’ Southeastern Department. He was survived by his wife Irdèle Lubin and his daughter Sarah Diane.

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