In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Gordon Darroch (1940-2022)

Gordon Darroch who died on August 3, 2022, was a transformative Director of the Institute for Social Research at York University. Associate Professor of Sociology at the time of his appointment, Gordon set about remaking the ISR, enhancing its reputation for significant survey research, broadening the scope of its work to public health, education, and elections, and actively soliciting funding from federal, provincial, and municipal agencies for research about current public policy issues.

Under his leadership, the Institute for Behavioural Research became the Institute for Social Research signifying a renewed commitment to research about diverse social phenomena and multiple research methods, qualitative as well as quantitative. Gordon promoted innovation at ISR, encouraging and funding telephone modes of data collection, especially through the Canadian Election Study, a rolling cross-sectional survey that documented public opinion daily during federal election campaigns.  The innovations succeeded because Gordon insisted on evidence-based changes in research methods. Faculty associates and staff were encouraged to learn about the latest research, continually update their research methods, and regularly revise the courses taught in the Spring Seminar Series and through the Statistical Consulting Service. To ensure staff were up-to-date, Gordon committed scarce resources to professional development. ISR became a workplace where staff could build careers, rather than a jumping-off spot to acquire experience for a more lucrative job.

Above all, it was Gordon’s superb judgement, good humour, unfailing courtesy, and kindness that facilitated change. Although he was collegial by nature,  Gordon acted decisively when necessary  to enhance the ISR as a workplace and a site for world-class social research. Aware of university priorities, Gordon was quietly and effectively insurgent in achieving his goals. He made lifelong friends among those who shared time with him at ISR, one of the best indications of his tremendous contributions. He is greatly missed.

– Valerie Preston, David Northrup and Michael Ornstein



A celebration of Prof. Darroch’s life and achievements will be held in early fall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Indspire, the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care or the Kensington Hospice. Prof. Darroch’s colleagues are also working to establish a memorial tribute at York University of a commemorative bench. To make a gift in his memory, visit or call 416-650-8210.


York University- Department of Sociology:  Gordon Darroch

York University’s Y-File: Gordon Darroch

Globe and Mail Obituary: Gordon Darroch