In memoriam: Guillermo O’ Donnell (1936-2011)

March 26, 2021

Tenth anniversary of his death, a time to remember

Guillermo O’Donnell was for nearly four decades one of the most influential social scientists studying contemporary Latin America. At the time of his death in his native Buenos Aires, he was Emeritus Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. He had previously served as the Helen Kellogg Professor of Government and International Studies (1982–2005) and founding Academic Director of the Kellogg Institute (1982–1997) at the University of Notre Dame, and Director of the Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (1976–1979) in Argentina.

He received his LL.B. from the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in 1958 and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Yale University in 1971 and 1988, respectively. Among many distinguished positions, Guillermo served as president (1988–1991) and vice president (1982–1985, 1985–1988) of the International Political Science Association and vice president of the American Political Science Association (1999–2000). He was visiting fellow or visiting professor at (in chronological order) Princeton University, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, the University of California–Berkeley, the Instituto Juan March (Madrid), the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Palo Alto), the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford, and he held doctor honoris causa degrees from universities in Argentina (two), Chile, Germany, and Peru. He was named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995. In 2003 LASA awarded him its highest honor, the Kalman Silvert Award for lifetime achievement.

LASA created an annual award, the Guillermo O’Donnell Democracy Award and Lectureship, that recognizes either outstanding scholarship in the field of democracy studies or particularly meritorious public service that promotes democracy and democratic values in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each recipient is invited to give a keynote lecture at the LASA Congress at which the award is made.

Donors who wish to support the permanent endowment that sustains the award may make their contributions by check, bank transfer, or credit card. For more information please send an email to

Gabriela Ippolito-O’Donnell
Universidad Nacional de San Martín

Kevin J. Middlebrook
University College London

Guillermo O’Donnell Democracy Award and Lectureship

About LASA

The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is the largest professional association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. With over 13,000 members, over 60% of whom reside outside the United States, LASA is the one association that brings together experts on Latin America from all disciplines and diverse occupational endeavors, across the globe. LASA's mission is to foster intellectual discussion, research, and teaching on Latin America, the Caribbean, and its people throughout the Americas, promote the interests of its diverse membership, and encourage civic engagement through network building and public debate.

If you wish to interview a LASA Executive Council member, you can contact the LASA communications office at (412) 648-7929 or send an email to