The Department of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University will be receiving a $75 million gift from William H. “Bill” Miller III, an investor who was once a philosophy graduate student at the school.
The aim of the gift is “to broaden and intensify faculty research, graduate student support and undergraduate study of philosophical thought,” according to a press release from the university. It will be used to eventually add nine faculty lines to the Department of Philosophy’s current 13, endow several positions, provide support for junior faculty members, add $10 million to endowed support for philosophy graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and fund efforts to attract more undergraduates to philosophy, including through the creation of new courses and interdisciplinary programs.
Miller, the founder and chairman of Miller Value Partners, was an undergraduate at Washington and Lee University. “I had taken exactly one philosophy course in college, but it led me to read a lot more philosophy when I was in the Army during the Vietnam War,” said Miller, 67. “I decided to apply to a Ph.D. program once my time in the military was ending.”
“I attribute much of my business success to the analytical training and habits of mind that were developed when I was a graduate student at Johns Hopkins,” he says.
The gift prompted Ronald J. Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins University, to say:
“Philosophy matters… Philosophy defines what it is to be human, to lead lives that are meaningful and to create societies that are just and humane. The contemporary challenges of the genomics revolution, the rise of artificial intelligence, the growth in income inequality, social and political fragmentation, and our capacity for devastating war all invite philosophical perspective. Bill Miller’s unprecedented commitment to our Department of Philosophy underscores the continuing vitality and relevance of the humanities.”
More information here.
UPDATE: The New York Times covers the story here.
UPDATE 2: Inside Higher Ed reports on the gift here.
UPDATE 3: “A Wall Street legend gave $75 million to philosophy majors and, yes, it’s a good investment” — at Market Watch.
“Score One for the Liberal Arts: Why That Big Campus Gift for Philosophy Matters” — at Inside Philanthropy.
UPDATE 4: “Legendary hedge fund investor attributes his success to studying philosophy” — at CNBC.
UPDATE 5: “Giving the Horse a Thorough Dental Exam” — here at Daily Nous.
UPDATE 6: “What a Big Donation Might Mean to One Department” — at the Chronicle of Higher Education.