A Tribute to Dave Olson

Posted 12th May 2023

Our beloved colleague, Dave Olson, has passed away.

He cherished our RC08, IPSA very much. He was proud of the work of the committee, and, more importantly, he felt so fortunate to have worked with and known so many of our members! He especially loved our meetings in person, where we combined work and pleasure with our traditional RCLS dinners.

Our RCLS is strong and, according to what Dave told me during our last conversation, is the most active and productive that he could have imagined us ever being. He was certainly happy with where we are now and where we are going with our work.

We will continue the best traditions that started under Dave’s leadership and add more as we go forward to respond to the needs of new times. We will continue producing high-quality research. Further, we will continue our work on bringing academics and practitioners together. We will also continue creating opportunities for our established scholars to lead and raise new generations of scholars who will continue producing high-quality research.

I am deeply saddened by this news, but I know that Dave will always be a part of our group in our hearts, mind, and our work.

See below, please, words from some of our colleagues who knew Dave very well and some pictures that our members shared.

Dr. Irina  Khmelko (Chair, RC08, IPSA)

From our Members about Dave Olson:

“I have known Dave since the 1990s, and we have met at numerous RCLS events since then. Dave was a great scholar and really gentle person. It was always interesting to hear his comments in various panels, and a pleasure to be together with him and Ellen in the evenings. Dave and Ellen also visited my wife Jutka and myself in our home in Tananger, Norway, when we worked on a book on WTO negotiations (published in 2014). Dave wrote a very interesting chapter on American trade policy from Bush to Obama.” – Hilmar Rommetvedt

“David was always a star at our meetings.

“If I can share a story, I first met David when Riccardo and I were doing some research on parliaments around the world (Irina: I think this was the first time I met you, too, in New Orleans, for the SPSA some 15 years ago).

“David was very interested in our research, and I explained (very proudly (!) that we had developed a questionnaire that was sent to the Clerk/SG of parliaments, including Eastern Europe. David said something like: “That must have been the questionnaire I saw staff filling in when I was in [blank: I forget the country]. I overheard their discussion: ” How do you think the researchers would like us to answer this question?” !” David was always the pragmatist, and helped keep me grounded!” – Rick Stapenhurst

“This is very sad news. I’m sure all of us have many personal memories of David Olson, and many of us had personal friendships with him. As someone from post-communist Europe, I want to recall his great contribution to the development of parliamentary research in our region. I recall the first RCLS conferences in the early 1990s, which I and some of my colleagues attended, and other projects under David Olson’s leadership that I participated in. I remember numerous personal/non-work meetings. I have always greatly appreciated his kind attitude and tolerance for the opinions of others.

“When I was talking about David Olson’s understanding of the parliaments in Central and Eastern Europe, I remembered that together with DO and Petra Guasti (Rakusanova at the time) we also edited a publication on parliaments in CEE” – Zdenka Mansfeldova

“Prof. Dr. David Olson (Dave) was among a few scholars, among them Prof. Gisbert H. Flanz, Prof. Lawrence Longley, Robert Nakamura, and Prof. and Prof. Allan Kornberg, who had worked, shared plenty of time, and learned a lot in this field. It was a great pleasure for me to get together with people whose scholarly works were and are my primary reading. All passed away. C’est la vie!

“I met Dave at the IPSA RCLS Paris Conference in 1994 and then on several occasions in Berlin, Ljubliana, Istanbul, Greensboro, and my home town of Trabzon. It was really sad that I failed to contribute to the special issue on The New Roles of Parliamentary Committees (JLS) 1998 when Larry and Dave called me. Beloved Dave and Ellen guided me when I was exploring NGOs in North Carolina as a Fulbrightee in 2001.

“He was always positive and motivating in person. They hosted me and my sister, Adalet, at their home in Greensboro in 2005, and they stayed with us for about a week in Istanbul, Ankara, and Trabzon in 2007. In addition to his scholarly contributions, he and his wife work with social organizations, such as LWV.” – Omer Faruk Genckaya

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