Two Videos Celebrate WDI History, Namesake

Thursday, October 5, 2017

WDI has marked its 25th anniversary with a video that celebrates its history while also chronicling the important work it continues to do around the world. The Institute also produced a short, biographical video of the life of WDI founder Bill Davidson

The six-minute video about the Institute features on-camera interviews with Bill Davidson’s son, Ethan Davidson, WDI Board Member Ralph Gerson, former U-M business school dean B. Joseph White and WDI President Paul Clyde. As Gerson said in the video, WDI’s 25th anniversary is an appropriate time to “reflect on what’s been accomplished” and to honor the impactful work performed globally by the Institute’s staff, faculty affiliates and student fellows.

Two of the many long-term projects that WDI has worked on – the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative in Rwanda and the Aravind Eye Care System in India – are featured in the video. 


To honor the Institute’s founder, WDI looked back at Davidson’s life – from childhood to his successful business career and sports team ownership to his noted philanthropic contributions. Davidson was raised in Detroit and graduated from U-M, where he was a member of the track team. He earned a law degree from Wayne State University and after a few years as an attorney took over the family’s struggling glass business.

He turned Guardian Glass into one of the world’s largest glass manufacturing companies, today known as Guardian Industries. He also became one of Michigan’s biggest philanthropists, giving to causes in Detroit, at U-M, throughout southeast Michigan, and Israel. His charitable giving lives on through the William Davidson Foundation.

Davidson also was well known as the longtime owner of the Detroit Pistons basketball team, as well as the Detroit Shock of the WNBA and the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.


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