Remembering Peter Munk
Peter Munk, who died on March 28, 2018 at the age of 90, was one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs and one of its most passionate citizens. He was also an exceptionally generous philanthropist who, together with his wife, Melanie, gave the University of Toronto the landmark gift that established the Munk School of Global Affairs. Many of the same forces that shaped Peter’s extraordinary life – energetic curiosity, deep engagement, a drive for excellence – animate the very school that he made possible.
After arriving in Canada in 1948 on a student visa, a few years after a narrow escape from Nazi-occupied Hungary, Peter earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto. Recalling the warm welcome he received as a young man who arrived “not speaking your language, not knowing a dog,” he retained a lifelong gratitude to his alma mater and to Canada.
As Peter pursued a career that spanned the world – notably as founder and builder of Barrick Gold Corporation – he remained rooted in Canada, insisting not only that Canada was a land of opportunity but also a leader on the international stage. “Peter was a patriot in the best sense of the word,” observed Janice Stein, Founding Director of the Munk School. “He profoundly believed that Canada should lead the global conversation on the most pressing issues of the day.”
Peter and Melanie Munk believed in the University of Toronto’s potential to drive that leadership. They envisioned an institution capable of strengthening Canada’s presence on the world stage while, in Peter’s words, helping to “create the knowledge that improves people’s lives.” In support of that vision, they made a foundational gift of $35 million in 2010 to create a world-leading academic enterprise: the Munk School of Global Affairs. Their benefactions to his alma mater, which total more than $51 million, have enabled U of T to establish a major academic powerhouse in global affairs.
The impact of these gifts has been profound. During its first eight years, the Munk School has convened some of the most urgent conversations of our time, supported world-influencing research, and prepared thousands of students to make meaningful contributions to the world – in their careers and as highly engaged global citizens.
Peter’s own contributions as a global citizen have been celebrated with numerous awards and honours. In 2008, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. His country of origin also recognized an extraordinary son in Peter Munk, awarding him in 2016 the Hungarian Order of Merit’s Commander’s Cross with Star.
For all the gratitude Peter felt toward Canada, it was our good fortune that he landed on our shores, notes Randall Hansen, Interim Director of the Munk School: “He was a gift to the country – as an entrepreneur, an institution builder and a philanthropist of the very first order. We are incredibly grateful for his generosity and we will ensure that the Munk School stands as a testament to his legacy.”
PETER MUNK PUBLIC HONOURS
Recognized on New York Stock Exchange’s inaugural Wall of Innovators, 2017
Named the Most Important Mining Man in Canadian History, Canadian Mining Journal, 2017
Outstanding Philanthropist Award, Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Toronto Chapter, 2016
Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, 2016
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012
CIBC Mining Man of the Year, 2011
Canadian Club Lifetime Achievement Award, 2011
Lifetime Business Achievement Award, Canadian Council for the Americas, 2011
Business Leader of the Year, Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario, 2010
Companion of the Order of Canada, 2008
International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award, Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, 2008
Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, 2002
Inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, 2002
Canadian International Executive of the Year Award, Canadian Council for International Business, 2000
Inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, 1997
Officer of the Order of Canada, 1993
Canada’s Mining Man of the Year, 1993
Youngest Canadian to speak to the Canadian Club, 1963
Honorary Doctorate, Trinity College, University of Toronto, 2004
Honorary Doctorate, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, 2001
Honorary Doctorate, Concordia University, Montreal, 1999
Distinguished Lecturer, James Gillies Alumni Lecture, York University, Toronto, 1995
Honorary Doctorate, Bishop’s University, Quebec, 1995
Honorary Doctorate, University of Toronto, 1995
Honorary Doctorate, Upsala College, New Jersey, 1991