In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Don DeVoretz

March 20, 2020

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Professor Emeritus Don DeVoretz on March 14, 2020. 

DeVoretz was a member of the Department of Economics for 42 years. He enjoyed a long and illustrious career at Simon Fraser University (SFU) after joining the department the same year he earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1968. 

During his time at SFU, he held numerous visiting appointments worldwide and established partnerships with the Norwegian School of Economics and Business and the Institute of Labour Economics (IZA) where he was one of the founding Research Fellows. DeVoretz was also the first immigration economist to hold the prestigious Willy Brandt guest professorship in the School of International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) at Sweden's Malmö University. 

For over ten years, DeVoretz served as co-director and principal investigator of Research on Immigration and Integration in the Metropolis (RIIM), an interdisciplinary policy research centre which connected academic researchers with government bodies and NGO communities. His successor, professor Krishna Pendakur, describes DeVoretz as an early leader in the field of immigration research in Canada.

"When I arrived at SFU in 1994, my work on immigration was decidedly 'unhip'. Don supported my research aspirations, first by funding my work through RIIM, and then by enmeshing me in the leadership of that project," says Pendakur. "I took over as SFU’s lead when Don stepped down in 2007. His support and enthusiasm was an essential ingredient to my success as a researcher, and I try to emulate that mentorship in my own life." 

DeVoretz will be remembered for his sense of humour and light-hearted lectures. Professor Douglas Allen remembers DeVoretz fondly, who he first met as an undergraduate student.

"Don taught one of my first economic classes, and at the time I thought of him as funny and half crazy," says Allen. "In class, he would wander around constantly. He would sit beside a student and talk to them as if they were the only person in class. Then he would turn to the student next to him and ask a bizarre question."

"When I returned to SFU in 1990 as an assistant professor, we car-pooled in from Langley for years and I got to know him as a colleague and friend," says Allen. "Over the years I learned that Don was a kind-hearted man, who often thought the best of others."

In 2019, DeVoretz and his wife established the Don and Julia DeVoretz Economics Scholarship to provide financial support to undergraduate students majoring in economics. "The significance of this award is not the dollars it bestows," explained DeVoretz, "but more it is a recognition of the academic accomplishments of the recipient."  

DeVoretz was a valued member of the SFU Economics community. He will be deeply missed.