Douglas MacDowell’s Classical Legacy

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Tip o’ the pileus to Tim Parkin for this one from the Glasgow Herald, but which appears to be only available from for some reason; I don’t think we had an obituary for Dr MacDowell:

AN esteemed professor has stunned the Scottish academic world by leaving a pound(s)2 million fortune to the institution where he worked for 30 years.

Professor Douglas MacDowell left the money in his will to Glasgow University on the basis that it is used to reintroduce his old position of Professorship of Greek

The job was mothballed when he stepped down nine years ago after serving the longest period in office of any Glasgow Professor of Greek since 1877.

Professor MacDowell died in hospital of renal failure aged 78 in January this year but the details of his will totalling pound(s)2,157,176.28 have just been revealed.

As well as expressing shock at the reportedly modest-living professor’s wealth, classics experts say the return of the post will be a welcome boost.

MacDowell is credited with establishing the Greek department’s reputation as one of the most revered seats of learning anywhere in the world.

Alan Milligan, 53, classics teacher at the High School of Glasgow, and his wife Dr Susan Milligan, 51, from the Classical Association of Scotland, both studied under the professor.

Mr Milligan said: “It’s one of the oldest chairs at Glasgow University. It will be great to have that tradition kept up.”

Dr Milligan said: “It will give the subject a great boost. It never stopped being taught but there wasn’t a specific chair of it.

“He was absolutely dedicated and was a superb teacher and a scholar who published prolifically. He was a quiet person, very thoughtful.

“He was very precise and had a terrific sense of humour. Nobody would have guessed he had a huge amount of wealth. It’s typical of him it has only come out after his death.”

An only child who never married, London-born MacDowell lived a modest lifestyle in a pound(s)100,000 flat in Glasgow’s Byres Road. He drove a pound(s)1228 Daihatsu hatchback car and his furniture and personal belongings were valued at pound(s)2767 after his death.

He also had a stamp collection worth pound(s)900 but the bulk of his riches were made up of stocks and shares including pound(s)115,000 of BP shares and pound(s)82,000 of shares in mining giants Rio Tinto.

However, in his obituary published in The Herald in February it was noted: “More than one impoverished postgraduate student benefited financially from his generosity.”

He left pound(s)90,000 to friends and pound(s)10,000 to the National Trust for Scotland.

Though the university refused to comment officially, one university source said: “This is a wonderful gesture from Professor MacDowell and has taken everyone by surprise.

“After he stood down as the Professor of Greek the position was frozen and not readvertised.

“I think he felt very passionately that it should be reinstated.

“Discussions are currently ongoing between solicitors handling his estate and the university to decide if and how the wishes in his will can be implemented.”

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