Dr. Roger H. Davidson was professor in American politics in the Department of Government and Politics at University of Maryland from 1987 and retired and was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus in 1999. Dr. Davidson passed peacefully on April 14, 2021.
He was born in Washington, DC, and raised in Fort Collins, CO. Dr. Davidson attended the University of Colorado and received his PhD from Columbia University. He began his teaching career at Dartmouth College.
His many works on national government and policymaking include (with his original coauthor Walter J. Oleszek) Congress and Its Members, Sage / CQ Press, which has long been the leading textbook on the subject and is about to be published in its 18th edition.
From 1968-1994 he was a full-time member of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he served as Department Chair (1976-1978) and Associate Dean of the College of Letters and Science (1978-1980). In addition, he served as a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, American, and George Washington universities. He lectured or conducted seminars on U.S. politics and policymaking throughout this country and in Europe, South America, Africa, India, and Japan.
From 1980 to 1988 he held the post of Senior Specialist in American National Government and Public Administration with the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Library of Congress. He was also a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a founding director of the Governance Institute.
Dr. Davidson loved music. His interests began early in his youth when he took piano lessons and was part of high school and university choirs. His passion for opera (and Broadway musicals) blossomed during his years in New York City as a graduate student at Columbia University.
He was a great mentor to generations of undergraduate and graduate students and will be missed by so many.
Words of sympathy from colleagues:
Roger Davidson was my colleague when I first arrived at the University of Maryland as a junior professor. He was always considerate, kind and supportive and a great colleague. I'm sure others will comment knowledgeably on his contributions to the field of American politics where his work was so highly regarded. I have fond memories of a few lovely dinners at his house where he and his wife Nancy welcomed me. I believe it was Roger who introduced me to the concept of grilling a turkey for dinner, which I later tried with much less success. When I visited them in Santa Barbara we talked about his great love of and support for the arts in that city--his second passion. I am deeply sorry to hear of his passing. – Professor Virginia Haufler, GVPT, UMCP.
Very sad news. Roger was a good friend and I was initially responsible for recruiting him to our department. He arrived at the Congressional Research Service some years ago from the University of California--Santa Barbara and I recruited him to teach part time with us, eventually leading to a full time position with us. He was a wonderful scholar, mentor, and friend and my wife and I got to know both him and Nancy (who herself was a wonderful editor at Brookings). He was one of the giants of Congressional scholarship and his works are considered outstanding. His retirement was a loss for the department. – Professor Emeritus Eric Uslaner, UMCP.
He was a great scholar, mentor, and good friend to many. - Professor Paul Herrnson, University of Connecticut.
A premier scholar of the U.S. Congress, his influence on the field was broad and enduring. Although I never had the chance to work with him as a colleague during my time at University of Maryland, I collaborated with him as a coauthor on his textbook for many years. It was a delight to work with him and to learn from him. –Frances Lee, Princeton University, and pending Professor Emeritus UMCP.