Students, colleagues, friends and family of the late Professor Richard Donovan have paid tribute to his legacy with the new Richard Donovan Graduating Prize in Case Excellence.
“We are honoured to create the Richard Donovan Graduating Prize in Case Excellence in memory of a beloved professor and colleague,” says Professor Morty Yalovsky, Interim Dean of McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management.
“With the help of all who generously donated, this award will keep alive the passion, spirit and values that Professor Donovan shared with so many students at case competitions here at McGill and across the world,” Professor Yalovsky continues. “We extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who gave generously to make this award possible.”
Professor Donovan, known affectionately by his students as “Dono”, passed away unexpectedly at age 54 in August 2019. An advocate for experiential learning, Professor Donovan was known for generously contributing his time and expertise to coaching case teams. Under his leadership, the McGill Management International Case Competition (MMICC) and Global Retail Challenge were created—two prestigious events that continue to draw talent from across the world to McGill.
Championing case culture at Desautels, Professor Donovan advocated for the coaching and mentoring that goes into case competition preparation and recognition for students who excelled. Now, with funds raised by the Desautels community, the Richard Donovan Graduating Prize in Case Excellence will recognize graduating students that excel in case competitions and embody the spirit that Professor Donovan brought to each event.
Honouring Professor Donovan’s legacy of case excellence
Among the students Professor Donovan impacted is Shonezi Noor (BCom’14), who served as VP of Sponsorship, Co-Chair and Executive Advisor to the McGill Management International Case Competition during her time at McGill. Now Director of Operations at Sampler, Noor credits much of her professional successes to lessons taught by Professor Donovan, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“I feel so happy that everyone he’s impacted has come together to make sure that his memory and his legacy is held strong, even without his presence. You can see so clearly the countless lives he’s impacted in countless ways,” says Noor. “Still to this day, so much of the good things that I have in my life I can credit to a class I took with him or a conversation with him or an opportunity he gave us.”
“What Professor Donovan did well was teach us how to continue to give because he was such a generous, giving person with his time, his knowledge, and his skills,” Noor reflects. “With every student or colleague he’s impacted, I know that they carry forward that message too. It’s important that we give back and lift other people to new levels. I’m so thrilled that students who never had the first-hand opportunity of meeting him can still benefit from his legacy.
George Attar, Senior VP, Strategic Technology Solutions at McKesson Canada, met Professor Donovan in 2003 when he was invited to join the MMICC as a judge. Attar accepted, marking the beginning of a close friendship and an ongoing seat on the MMICC’s judging panel.
Attar contributed to the award fund to ensure his beloved colleague’s legacy will live on. “Richard’s legacy is his values and principles: that sense of charity, teamwork and collegiality, not only within McGill but across the academic world. If this prize can help to continue to promote those values and principles, then that’s the best tribute we can give to Richard’s memory.”
Reflecting on Professor Donovan’s approach to case competitions, Attar says, “fairness was a big value of his. Whether it was how he treated his students or how he judged, he always made sure he kept those values and principles at heart. He enriched the lives of so many students and colleagues throughout his career at McGill.”
A lasting impact across business and academia
Both Noor and Attar reflect on a man whose generosity and commitment to helping others far surpassed his desire to succeed. Where most universities would keep their formula to case success veiled in secrecy, Professor Donovan was willing to share advice and coaching with other schools across the world.
“He helped other universities improve their business case competitions. Some schools would be very competitive—but that wasn’t Richard,” Attar comments. “He had no agenda other than to help. That’s what made him so likeable.”
“Professor Donovan is responsible for a lot of new case competitions springing up across the world,” Noor adds. “He was so generous with sharing his learnings not only of how to run the competition, but also the value it can bring to an academic institution.”
Although known for his unwavering dedication to his students, Professor Donovan’s impact extended far beyond academia.
“I was so impressed with how Richard prepared students for case competitions at McGill that I actually brought him into my company as a consultant to teach my management team how to present business cases,” says Attar. “He certainly had a terrific impact, not only on students at McGill but on everyone he met.”
“He is sorely missed,” Attar finishes. “Hopefully with this prize, his legacy will live on.”
From left: Professor Richard Donovan, Shonezi Noor (BCom’14), Jeremy Singer (BCom’14), João F. Proença (Dean and Chairman of the Scientific Council of the School of Economics and Management, University of Porto), Katan Patel (BCom‘13), Renata Blanc (Program Director International Full Time MBA at Porto Business School and Coach of the FEP International Case Teams), Brooke Freeman (BCom’14)
Fundraising efforts are still underway to raise enough funds to create a permanent Richard G. Donovan Prize in Case Excellence. You can learn more and contribute online.