Roger H. Davidson

Date of Death

April 14, 2021

Roger H. Davidson, of Santa Barbara, died suddenly on April 14. He had a long and illustrious career as a professor and author on American government, especially Congress and the presidency.

Professor Davidson was born in 1936 in Washington, DC, to Ross and Mildred Davidson. He spent his early years in Arlington, VA. As he was entering ninth grade, the family moved to Fort Collins, CO, where he graduated from high school. He was a brilliant student at the University of Colorado, graduating with high honors and being voted outstanding senior man. Fifty years later, at his class reunion, he led the class in its procession into the stadium.

He received his doctorate from Columbia University and began his teaching career at Dartmouth College. He moved to the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1968, where he served as chairman of the Department of Political Science and associate dean of Letters and Science. In 1980 he moved to Washington, DC, where he was a senior specialist at the Congressional Research Service. He was also a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, American, and George Washington University, and later joined the political science department at the University of Maryland.

In 1999, he retired, and with his wife, who was acquisitions editor at the Brookings Institution, moved back to Santa Barbara. He was active in local cultural affairs in Santa Barbara, serving on the board of the Architectural Foundation and Opera Santa Barbara, and on a committee of the Music Academy of the West. He was also a docent at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. In 2002 he was John Marshall Professor at the University of Debrecen, Hungary, awarded by the Hungarian Fulbright Commission.

Professor Davidson was the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Congress and Its Members, of which the 18th edition is about to be published.

He established the first opportunity for UCSB students to spend an academic quarter in Washington, DC, working as interns in Congress and other government agencies and interest groups. This was the precursor to UCSB’s popular UCDC program.

Roger was a loving and supportive husband to his wife, Nancy, of almost 60 years, and a proud father and grandfather of his sons Douglas (Victoria) and Christopher (Theodora), and his six grandchildren (Elizabeth, Thomas, James, Alexander, Emily, and Olivia).

Roger and Nancy shared a love of music and theater, but in particular they loved to travel. They visited over 50 countries, on every continent except Antarctica.

A memorial service will be held when large gatherings are allowed. Gifts in his honor may be made to the Music Academy of the West, Opera Santa Barbara, or the UCDC Public Service Scholarship program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


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