The Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto has received a donation of CA$2.5 million and matching funds from the university’s Faculty of Arts & Science to create a CA$5 million endowed chair in the history of philosophy.
The donation is from Michael and Virginia Walsh.
Michael Walsh is an investment banker and book collector who took a break from the business world to take philosophy courses at Toronto and then obtain a PhD in philosophy from the University of Guelph. Virginia Walsh studied philosophy as an undergraduate.
According to an announcement from the university, the gift was in part motivated by a sense that, in the words of Dr. Walsh, “The humanities don’t get the support they should.” Ms. Walsh said: “As a Quaker, I try to use what resources I have to address anger, bias and other big challenges in our increasingly complex world. Supporting academic excellence, clear thinking and historical perspective seems a good way to do that.” The two first met during a course on Kant. Dr. Walsh says, “If it weren’t for Kant, we never would have gotten married.”
Last year, Dr. Walsh received an honorary degree from Toronto in recognition of his donation of his book collection to the university’s rare book library. The collection of thousands of volumes includes many old and rare volumes, such as a first edition of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature (1739).