University of Vermont

Sociology Professor Appointed Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Senegal

Moustapha Diouf will also serve as president of the $540 million Millenium Challenge Account

Diouf photo
Sociology professor Moustapha Diouf has been appointed special adviser to the prime minister of Senegal.

Moustapha Diouf, associate professor of sociology, has long wanted to help improve the quality of life of the people of his native country of Senegal. He will get the chance as the newly appointed special adviser to the prime minister of Senegal and president of the Millenium Challenge Account (MCA) -- a $540 million foreign development project funded by the United States.

Diouf, who became friends with the new Prime Minister Aminata Toure while working on a master’s degree in rural sociology at the University of Paris in the early 1980s, turned down previous job offers from Senegal officials, wanting to be in a position to have more of an impact on the economic development of the West African country. The addition of the powerful MCA position was exactly what he had in mind.

“They had been trying to lure me with the special adviser role, but the addition of the MCA position gives me more power vis-à-vis the U.S. government and how the $540 million will be spent," said Diouf. "The prime minister and I have shared the same dream for many years and are now in a position to realize that dream together.”

Diouf, who expects to return to UVM in about two years, says he plans to spur economic development by using the MCA funds for infrastructure improvements with a focus on the building of roads and bridges so people can bring goods to market. He also hopes to improve health care, education and telecommunications access while keeping a close eye on the management of the funds. “There is great demand for social justice in Senegal,” Diouf says. “Many African countries are fighting corruption and the mismanagement of public funds. They really have to monitor how money is being spent. I will work on bringing transparency, accountability, and checks and balances to the process.”

In addition to his academic research as a rural sociologist, Diouf brings relevant field work to his new position as a former sociologist for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. While there, he was involved in the elaboration and implementation of development projects at UNESCO's Regional Office for Education in Dakar, Senegal, where he also assisted in the planning and organization of regional seminars and workshops for UNESCO’s Eradication of Illiteracy in Africa program.

“UVM has given me everything for the past 24 years,” says Diouf, whose scholarly work focuses on global and African development. “It is my affiliation with the university that allowed me to get this appointment. I intend to give back by sharing my experience with students and colleagues and converting my experiences into reality. Otherwise, it’s just abstract theorizing. As a political sociologist, what we teach in the classroom should translate into the field. We all dream of having an impact on social policy, so I’m feeling very fortunate to be in a position to do so.