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GREAT FALLS - The University of Montana is giving the chief of D.A. Davidson and his wife honorary doctorates this weekend.

Ian and Nancy Davidson both went to UM in the 1950s, and have been big UM supporters since. The couple may be best known at UM for their 1992 gift of $1.1 million to build the Davidson Honors College building and elevate the honors program to college status.

Ian Davidson started working with his father at D.A. Davidson & Co. in 1959, and piloted the Great Falls firm to become one of the region's most recognizable investment firms. It now has 740 employees in eight states.

The school says they will be the first married couple in 50 years to get honorary degrees. His will come from the School of Business and hers will be in humane letters from the Honors College.

Nancy Davidson, who graduated in 1959 after studying biological sciences, is a past chairwoman of the Great Falls School Board and the first female director in the First Bank System. She also has held many civic posts.

Ian Davidson managed the Grizzly football team as a student and was also a leader in his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. A member of Alpha Kappa Psi business honorary, he graduated in 1953.

Both later served in leadership roles with the UM Alumni Association and UM Foundation. Last year, they received UM's highest award, Order of the Grizzly.

The Davidsons' three children, Lauren, Sydney and Andrew, are UM graduates as well.

Also receiving honorary doctorates Saturday are Raymon Thompson of Kalispell, founder of Semitool Inc., and Margie M. Thompson of Butte, vice president of Thompson Distributing and former student at the College of Great Falls.

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