U of T recently celebrated the remarkable legacy of Peter and Melanie Munk’s generosity to the University and how, in just five years, the Munk School of Global Affairs has taken great strides to make their vision a reality.

Posted on March 15, 2016

Peter and Melanie Munk are two of the world’s leading philanthropists. Their gift of $35 million for the Munk School of Global Affairs in 2010 is the largest single individual gift in the history of the University of Toronto and brings their total support to the University to a remarkable $51.1 million. Their contributions are among the most extraordinary records of individual generosity in U of T’s history. To celebrate this transformational level of giving, U of T President Meric Gertler hosted a dinner at 93 Highland, the President’s official residence, and presented the Munks with a commemorative leather-bound book chronicling Peter Munk’s remarkable journey: from his immigration to Canada as a student in the 1940s to his position today as a distinguished Canadian businessman and philanthropist.

“The world is changing,” Peter Munk said in 2010 when the Munk School was launched (it had originally been established in 2000 as the Munk Centre for International Studies). “We want to do our part to ensure that Canada not only secures its place on the world stage, but helps create the knowledge that improves people’s lives.”

Under the leadership of founding director Janice Stein, the Munk School has grown to house more than 40 centres and programs, with more than 100 partners and sponsor organizations spanning more than 30 countries. Exceptional faculty and experts from around the world continue to gravitate to the Munk School. There are more than 200 affiliated faculty engaged in teaching and research, many of whom have cross-appointments in other faculties. There are also between 12 to 15 Distinguished Fellows, who are world-leading academics from outside the University, highly distinguished professionals, globally influential leaders in business, the arts and society, and major philanthropists, who bring their substantive knowledge of global affairs to contribute regularly to the activities of the School. Each year, the School hosts hundreds of public seminars, conferences and lectures which attract thousands of people.

Today, the Munk School is widely seen as one of the top research and teaching institutions of its kind in the world—and with Stephen Toope now at the helm, its profile continues to grow as a national resource and as an international centre of excellence. From cyber-security and innovation policy to global justice, diplomacy and global economic policy, the Munk School is projecting Canada’s voice onto the world stage and expanding the boundaries of global affairs.

“Our School unites people who are passionate to address the problems of a fast-changing world,” says Toope. “Innovation for the poor, urban development and sustainability, security threats from countries jostling for position, cyber insecurity, seeking justice in a world of conflict, rich cultural connections and deep divisions — all are engaged by our remarkable faculty and staff, working with partners from across the globe.”

The Munk School researchers and their findings routinely appear in the pages of the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star. Munk Journalism Fellows are reporting for media outlets around the world and news outlets such as CNN, NPR and CBC frequently turn to Munk faculty for expertise on global issues and events.

The school’s reputation and innovative programs also attract top students. Since 1999, more than 5,000 students have passed through the Munk Centre for International Studies and the Munk School of Global Affairs. From its Master of Global Affairs degree, to its vibrant Munk One and Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies programs, the Munk School offers programs and degrees that tackle ideas shaping affairs in Canada and around the world.

“In short,” says Toope, “the Munk School of Global Affairs is educating Canada’s future leaders in global affairs and helping to lead a global conversation in which Canada’s voice is heard loud and clear. And none of this would have been possible without the leadership of Peter and Melanie Munk.”