Dan M. McGill, the “undisputed dean” of the pension industry whose pioneering research contributed to shaping the modern-day retirement system, inspired generations of practitioners and academics on the study of corporate retirement programs.
Mr. McGill, 93, died on Feb. 5 in Wynnewood, Pa. The cause of death was congestive heart failure, said Elaine McGill, his widow.
Mr. McGill, who earned a Ph.D. from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1947, joined its faculty in 1952 and became the Fredrick H. Ecker Professor of Insurance Emeritus.
Mr. McGill also in 1952 founded and became director of the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School. The pioneering academic center brought into light the corporate pension industry just as it was forming into the modern system it has become. Mr. McGill's work addressing pension issues revealed shortcomings and challenges in pension finance, investment, operations and regulations, as well as suggested reforms.
Mr. McGill was the author of “Fundamentals of Private Pensions,” which has been for almost 60 years an authoritative source on the pension system, its evolution, the forces shaping it in regulation, taxes, accounting and finance, among others, as well as its operations and standards of practice in investment management.
It was first published at 209 pages in 1955, almost 20 years before the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Mr. McGill was the sole author of the first five editions. Its latest edition in 2010 — its ninth at more than 818 pages — was co-authored by Mr. McGill, Kyle N. Brown, John J. Haley, Sylvester Schieber and Mark J. Warshawsky.
Mr. McGill's work “pointed the way to reforms embodied in the landmark 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act,” according to a 2007 Wharton alumni magazine feature listing 125 influential faculty and alumni, including him. The article called him the “undisputed dean of the pension industry” in his day.
In all, Mr. McGill wrote eight books, co-authored several more, and wrote numerous scholarly papers, according to a memoriam statement from the PRC.
His book “Guaranty Fund for Private Pension Obligations” was a precursor of Title IV of ERISA, according to the statement.
Olivia S. Mitchell, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor at Wharton and executive director of the Pension Research Council, said in an e-mail: “Dan's work on pensions, life insurance, health insurance and long-term care gave generations of retirees more to look forward to during their golden years.”
Mr. McGill “worked with Congress and a presidential commission to help prepare the ground” for the passage of ERISA, Ms. Mitchell said.
Mr. McGill was appointed the first chair of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s Advisory Committee.
In addition, he consulted with many private firms and governmental organizations including the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, Ms. Mitchell said.
Mr. McGill remained director of the PRC until his retirement from teaching at Wharton in 1990.
Mr. McGill continued as a sought-after authoritative voice in the pension industry after his retirement. In 1993, he was appointed by the New Jersey Superior Court to assist in the rehabilitation of Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co. after it was seized by authorities following a run by policyholders, Ms. Mitchell said.
Mrs. McGill said in an interview that her husband enjoyed golf, bridge and horseback riding. But “his hobby was work,” she added.
Aside from his wife, Mr. McGill is survived by a son, Douglas.
Services for Mr. McGill, who was born in Greenback, Tenn., were Feb. 13 at the Clover Hill Presbyterian Church, Maryville, Tenn.
Memorial donations may be made to Clover Hill Presbyterian Church, P. O. Box 4877, Maryville, TN 37802, or to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, c/o The Pension Research Council, The Wharton School, 3620 Locust Walk, 3000 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6302.