Johns Hopkins University has announced a $75 million gift from investor William H. Miller III to its Department of Philosophy in support of faculty research, graduate student programs, and undergraduate study.
The gift from the founder and chair of Miller Value Partners, former manager of the Legg Mason Capital Management Value Trust and a onetime PhD student in philosophy department at Johns Hopkins, is the largest gift ever to a department in the humanities at the university and believed to be the largest ever in support of a philosophy program in the United States. The funds will endow a professorship for the department chair, eight additional professorships, and support for junior faculty members, enabling the department to increase the number of full-time faculty from thirteen to twenty-two within a decade. The gift also includes $10 million in endowed support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as funding for new introductory courses and interdisciplinary tracks aimed at attracting more undergraduates to the study of philosophy. In recognition of the gift, the department will be renamed the William H. Miller Department of Philosophy.
"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. "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....I am delighted to be able to show my gratitude by helping to move the department to its rightful place among the best in the country."
Miller's gift brings to nearly $250 million the support for humanities and social sciences fields raised during the university's $5 billion fundraising campaign, including a $150 million commitment from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to establish the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, a forum for experts in a range of fields, including political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history; a $10 million gift from Jeffrey H. and Shari L. Aronson for the Aronson Center for International Studies; and a $10 million commitment from the Alexander Grass Foundation for the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute.
"Philosophy defines what it is to be human, to lead lives that are meaningful, and to create societies that are just and humane," said Johns Hopkins president Ronald J. Daniels. "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."
(Photo credit: Johns Hopkins University)