Prof. Mary MacKinnon: 1959-2010

Prof. Mary MacKinnon. / Photo: Owen Egan
Prof. Mary MacKinnon. / Photo: Owen Egan

By McGill Reporter Staff

On July 25, Mary MacKinnon, a professor of Economics and the former Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts, passed away at age 51 after a battle with cancer.

Born on July 4, 1959 in Ottawa, Ontario, MacKinnon earned a B.A. (Econ) from Queen’s University, and D.Phil, Nuffield College, Oxford, England. MacKinnon taught Economic History at Queen’s before coming to McGill, where she was a fixture for the past 20 years. One of Canada’s leading economic historians, MacKinnon was held in high esteem by colleagues around the world.

“Mary was utterly and completely committed to McGill and to the Faculty of Arts,” said Arts Dean Christopher Manfredi via telephone from Calgary. “She combined the analytical rigor of her economist’s training with an understanding of the importance of the past and traditions that came from her interest in economic history.”

MacKinnon was Associate Dean of Arts from 2006-2009 and Manfredi says the faculty is all the richer for her efforts during that time.

“She had a significant impact as Associate Dean in two areas in particular: interdisciplinary curriculum reform and on the renewal of our physical space,” said Manfredi. “Mary was absolutely superb in overseeing the most extensive renewal of physical space in the Faculty of Arts since the mid-1960s.

“She always said that as an economist she was interested in the allocation of scarce resources so she found this to be an interesting puzzle – frustrating at times, exasperating at times – but she loved the challenge. She executed it absolutely superbly.”

On top of MacKinnon’s reputation as a scholar and her success as an administrator, her great love of the University also saw her playing an unofficial role as McGill historian. “Mary really tried to promote a greater understanding of McGill’s past,” said Manfredi. “We’re going to greatly miss having her there to remind us what McGill is and where McGill came from and why it is important to celebrate our history and traditions.”

A Memorial Service will be held for Prof. MacKinnon on Wednesday, July 28, at 2:00 pm in the Birks Chapel, 3520 University Street. All are welcome. A funeral service will take place at MacKay United Church, Ottawa, Ontario at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 30. For more information, see the obituary in the Montreal Gazette: