Jean Renol Élie
Haiti's top sociologist Jean Renol Élie died on Apr. 19, 2022. Photo via Le Nouvelliste

By Juhakenson Blaise

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti’s public university community is mourning the death of Sociology Professor Jean Renol Élie, who had been diagnosed with kidney failure. He was 70.

Élie, who died Apr. 19, had worked at the University of the State of Haiti, or UEH by its French acronym, for more than 30 years. He is known for his extensive research on agrarian structures, cooperatives, peasant organizations, decentralization and civic participation in Haiti.

“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, a Cayes-Jamel native, graduated from the law program at UEH. He held master’s degrees in development sciences and sociology from 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, where he distinguished himself by setting up a new credit system and modernizing education.

Many of Élie’s students said his guidance in their academic careers was very beneficial.

“Élie’s death is also a blow for me as a student, for UEH students and also for the country,” said Joseph Nicolas, a Faculty of Human Sciences student. “Élie was an example of an intellectual to follow, [someone] who put his knowledge at the service of the younger generations.”

Numerous colleagues, such as Professor Jérôme Paul Eddy Lacoste, are also in mourning. After preparing for his social work thesis with Élie, the pair later worked together to contribute to a teaching curriculum for FASCH.

“I was saddened by the news,” Lacoste said.

Élie is survived by his wife Irdèle Lubin and his daughter Sarah Diane.

Editor’s note: This story was updated April 25 to improve clarity.

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