WDI was created in 1992 when Guardian Industries Corporation, an international manufacturer of glass products, made a major financial commitment to establish an institute at the University of Michigan Business School. Named in honor of Guardian Industries’ Chairman, President, and CEO William Davidson, WDI represents an aggressive and visionary response to global economic transformation. Davidson said his vision for the Institute was to “forge a path for those responsible for economic change in these emerging markets – that it will give them the knowledge, the methods, and the blueprints for a successful transition to a market economy.” At the ceremony announcing the creation of WDI, Davidson said: “We are not just educators, administrators, or businessmen. We are co-workers for the cause of economic and social freedom.”
WILLIAM DAVIDSON, 1922-2009
Before his death on March 13, 2009, Davidson was Chairman, President and CEO of Guardian Industries Corporation, a company of 19,000 employees headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He became the managing partner of the Detroit Pistons Basketball Club in 1974 and was the majority owner of Palace Sports and Entertainment. He was one of Michigan’s most notable philanthropists, responsible for more than $200 million in donations to local and international charities and universities. He gave $30 million to create the William Davidson Institute. In addition to the Institute, Davidson gave millions to the university and was one of U-M’s biggest donors. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Davidson received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan in 1947 and his Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University in 1949.