The Department mourns the loss of Prof. Kimenyi

Photo credit: BMI Murithi and Nation Media Group

kimenyi-picThe Department mourns the loss of one of its own. Prof. Kimenyi was a former member of the Department before leaving to join the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. According to BMI Muriithi of the Daily Nation, he passed away on Saturday, June 6, at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, after a long illness. BMI Muriithi’s article in Daily Nation is available here.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his wife, Irene, and his three sons. Condolences and sympathy can be sent to:  Irene Wangui Kimenyi , 2011 Wheaton Haven Court, Silver Springs, MD 20902.


The following is a note of memorium written by Prof. Richard Langlois:

A note in memorium of Mwangi S. (Samson) Kimenyi
from his friends and former colleagues at the University of Connecticut

We in the Department of Economics at the University of Connecticut were truly grieved to hear of Samson’s passing.

Samson came to us in 1991 and left to form KIPPRA in 1999, and was thereafter only sporadically in residence in Storrs. But he was with us for almost the entire decade of the nineties. We had hired him away from the University of Mississippi and awarded him the rank of Associate Professor less than five years after his Ph.D., which is an extraordinary rate of advancement. What attracted us to Samson was his astounding rate of publication, on a variety of topics. Among these publications was work on poverty in the United States, which focused on the importance of family structure – and which won the prize for best paper in the Southern Economic Journal. What we discovered after Samson had been with us a short while is that we had hired a wonderful man as well as a wonderful scholar. Those of us who came to know him well found that family was just not an intellectual interest for him but was part of his being, and we admired his devotion to his wife Irene and his three boys, who largely grew up here in Mansfield.

The problem with hiring a superstar, however, is that the world beckons. As Samson’s interests moved in the direction of African development, and as he became increasingly well known in that field, he was tapped to form KIPPRA and then called to the Brookings Institution. But we always considered Samson to have remained a member of our faculty in spirit. Many of us remember his visit part-way through the KIPPRA experience, which was memorable for a seminar in which he shared with us some of his accomplishments and challenges in Kenya.

In a way, we at UConn had already learned to miss Samson. Knowing that the parting is now final is a tragedy to us. But we will always remember his tenure here; and the spirit of his intellectual achievements and his warm personality will always remain part of our department legacy. We wish his family comfort in their time of grief.


Prof. Kimenyi joined by PhD Alum at Brookings

Prof. Kimenyi is currently a Senior Fellow at the Brookings institution where he is working for the Africa Growth Initiative. He has recently been joined there by Ezra Suruma, a 1976 Economics PhD from UConn who completed his dissertation under the supervision of Morris Singer.

After his PhD, Suruma taught at Florida A&M University, Makerere University (Uganda) and Coppin State University (Maryland), at the latter as department head. He then started an administrative career in Uganda, first at the (central) bank of Uganda, 1987 as the Director of Research, 1990 as Deputy Governor. After various stints in commercial banks, in 2005, he was appointed 2005 as Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda. In 2008, he received from The Banker (Financial Times, UK) an award as the best Finance Minister in Africa. Since 2009, he has been a Senior Presidential Advisor for Finance and Planning.

At Brookings, Kimenyi and Suruma are trying trying to influence development policy both in Africa and the United States and OECD. They interact also regularly with policy makers at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and other development institutions and foundations that focus on development. Prof. Kimenyi is in particular pushing for a food security initiatives and overall transformation of African Agriculture. He is also working on natural resource management and industrial policies. Ezra Suruma is writing a book on the growth success story in Uganda over the last decade.

Read more at the East African.

Economic Rights Group Begins 6th Year

Initiated by Lanse Minkler (Economics) (IDEAS) and Shareen Hertel (Political Science) (IDEAS) in the fall of 2004, the Economic Rights Group (ERG) has grown to include sixteen UCONN faculty members and nine “Affilitate” scholars. Participating Economics faculty also include Samson Kimenyi, Susan Randolph (IDEAS), Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS), and, most recently, Thomas Miceli. But the group also features a wide range of scholars from departments and schools like Political Science, Sociology, and Geography, to Law, Social Work, and Medicine. The ERG operates under the umbrella of the Human Rights Institute, itself a result of the Human Rights Initiative of the university.

The central purpose of the ERG is to investigate issues surrounding the fundamental human right of to a decent standard of living, as described in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The group meets four or five times a semester to discuss seminal readings, and increasingly to consider original research generated by ERG members. Some of that research is included in the nascent ERG Working Paper Series. Additionally, the group meets at an annual day-long workshop to intensively investigate a specific topic annually. At this past April’s most recent ERG workshop in April 2009, for example, ERG members and affiliates presented their research on the state of economic rights in the U.S. The topic of the 2009 workshop mirrors the upcoming conference to be sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, entitled Human Rights in the USA.

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference will take place from October 22 to October 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. While we often think of human rights violations as only occurring elsewhere, the purpose this conference is to assess the state of human rights right here at home. There will be three economic rights themed panels: Economic Rights and Poverty; Katrina Through an Economic Rights Lens; and Researching Economic Rights in the USA. The entire UCONN community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state-of-the-art research in human rights.

For more information see: Economic Rights Group, Human Rights in the USA conference, Human Rights Institute.

Prof. Kimenyi appointed at Brookings Institution

Prof. Mwangi S. Kimenyi who previously had an appointment as a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institutions has joined the Washington-based think tank as a resident Senior Fellow. Prof. Kimenyi will be joining the Global Economy and Development Program and will be concentrating on policy issues concerning Africa’s economic growth. In addition to working closely with other colleagues at Brookings, Prof. Kimenyi will also be collaborating with researchers in African think tanks and policymakers. For more information, see the Brookings website and in particular this news release.

Samson Kimenyi discusses obstacles to delivering aid in Africa

Mwangi Samson Kimenyi (IDEAS) studies the African economy and the institutional factors that seem to thwart development on a continent renowned for its rich natural resources.

On July 2, he delivered the keynote address to a meeting of economists in the African Division of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., focusing on how to improve service delivery in fragile states that are characterized by low accountability.

Low accountability hinders economic development in many African countries, he believes.

Kimenyi, associate professor of economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, coordinates a long-term study on institutions and service delivery in Africa on behalf of the Nairobi-based African Economic Research Consortium.

He also has served on the Public Universities Commission in his native Kenya, and is founding executive director of the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis.

Many sub-Saharan African countries do not have the financial resources to pay their teachers and doctors or to build the infrastructure that would provide education, health, and sanitary services needed for an efficient economy, he notes.

They also lack qualified personnel to lead the effort, and their governments do not have the institutional capacity to deliver public services.

Some are also ethnically fragmented, which affects both their politics and their public service delivery, he says.

Read more in the UConn Advance