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McGill faculty member turned philanthropist

Prof. Russell Davidson is supporting the greatest needs of his home Department of Economics

Photo of Prof. Russell Davidson

Prof. Russell Davidson has worn many hats during his prolific academic career.

He is the recipient of two PhDs, was a physics professor before switching to economics, and split his time teaching at Queen’s University in Canada and Aix-Marseille University in France before joining McGill. Soon after his arrival he was named a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, and after nearly 20 years in McGill’s Department of Economics, he’s also one of its most generous supporters.

“My experience at McGill can be summed up in one word: excellent,” says Davidson. “The University welcomed me at a time when I was facing mandatory retirement, and it’s been a real pleasure. I was very happy to come to McGill.”

Davidson’s main research interest is in econometrics; he is a fellow of the Canadian Economics Association, the Econometrics Society, and the Royal Society of Canada. His position as Canada Research Chair in Economics has been renewed twice – an exceptional feat.

Davidson’s first gift to McGill was a bequest; he left a legacy gift in his will to support the Department of Economics’ greatest needs, and became a member of McGill’s 1821 Legacy Society.

With no direct descendants, a pension from Queen’s and a desire to keep working, he has continued to generously donate to the University through annual giving. Many of his gifts are devoted to the Economics department, its faculty members, and its students.

I want to support things, and McGill seems an excellent choice. Students always need funding – especially masters and PhDs – and I’m happy to help.”

Davidson’s philanthropy entitles him to tax benefits, but his primary motivation for giving to McGill is to support its worthy initiatives. In 2016 the Department of Economics established the Russell Davidson Research Fund, which continues to grow thanks to Davidson’s generous contributions. The endowed Fund provides financial assistance to graduate students and assistant professors, and going forward it will support a seminar series, a visitor program, and an annual lecture series. “All these activities are essential to the intellectual life of our department,” says Prof. Francisco Ruge-Murcia, Economics chair. “We are very grateful to Russell for his generosity.”

As a thank you, the Department of Economics recently hosted an event in Davidson’s honour, celebrating his distinguished career, his 80th birthday, and officially announcing the Davidson Distinguished Lecture in Econometrics. The Lecture will invite prominent figures to campus, increase the Department of Economics’ visibility, and allow students and faculty see more of the broader academic world.

“McGill has given me a most encouraging academic experience, and the opportunity to direct some really smart students,” says Davidson. “McGill saved me, and it’s been a real pleasure.”

What will your legacy be?
McGill is celebrating its 200th anniversary with the goal of securing 200 legacy gifts. For more information, please contact us.

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