Dan M. McGill, 93, Wharton professor

Dan M. McGill
Dan M. McGill
Posted: February 20, 2013

Dan M. McGill, 93, a professor emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who helped shape the study of pensions, died of heart failure Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa.

Born in Greenback, Tenn., on Sept. 27, 1919, Dr. McGill moved as a boy to Maryville, Tenn. He received a bachelor's degree from Maryville College in 1940 and a master's degree from Vanderbilt University in 1941, before serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which was succeeded by the U.S. Army Air Forces, from 1942-46.

He rose to the rank of major, serving in noncombat roles reporting to the Pentagon, his wife, Elaine, said.

He received his Ph.D. from the Wharton School in 1947, returned to serve in the Air Force from 1951-52, and joined the faculty of the Wharton School in 1952. He also taught at the University of Tennessee from 1947-48 and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1948-51.

Elaine McGill said she and Dr. McGill married on June 26, 1952, and their marriage was a source of pride for the noted academic.

"My husband was a very modest man," she said last week. "The one thing that he said he was the proudest of was the fact that we had been married for 60 years."

He had plenty of professional achievements also to be proud of. The former professor chaired the Insurance and Risk Management Department at Wharton for many years.

Jerry Rosenbloom, emeritus professor of insurance and risk management, said Dr. McGill "was a true professional in every respect, a real gentleman who always made time for people; he was a mentor to so many people, and he changed many lives."

The Wharton School created the Pension Research Center and recruited Dr. McGill to direct it, the school's alumni magazine wrote in 2007, describing him as "the undisputed "dean" of the pension industry.'

His book Fundamentals of Private Pensions, first published in 1964, had its ninth edition released in January 2010 and is considered an authoritative text.

Although he formally retired after 40 years at the Wharton School, Dr. McGill remained active in the academic community, his wife said.

"My husband never really retired," she laughed. "He just couldn't keep his finger out of things."

Dr. McGill consulted at various times for the International Monetary Fund, Congress, the World Bank, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve System.

His work with Congress and a presidential commission helped shape the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in 1974, according to the Wharton School alumni magazine article.

Elaine McGill remembered her husband as a mentor to his students who shied away from the limelight.

"He was a soft-spoken Southerner, respected by all of his associates," she said from her Montgomery County home. "He was a humble person, interested in promoting the careers of his students."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Douglas McGill, from a previous marriage, a brother, and a sister.

Services were held Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Clover Hill Presbyterian Church in Maryville, Tenn. He was buried in the church's cemetery, his wife said, in the family plot next to their daughter, Melanie.

Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220, jlai@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @elaijuh.


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