Jan. 19, 2004

Canada’s past is the future of new history professorship at McMaster University

L. R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History leads Canadian studies teaching, research

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Lynton Ronald (Red) Wilson talks about his $1-million donation to establish the L. R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History in McMaster’s Faculty of Humanities.

Hamilton, ON - The future of our Canadian past will be the focus of a new professorship in Canadian history created at McMaster University.

Canadian business executive Lynton Ronald (Red) Wilson has donated $1 million – $200,000 a year over the next five years – to establish the L. R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History in McMaster’s Faculty of Humanities. The University will contribute $250,000 – $50,000 a year for five years – to support the gift.

Wilson, a distinguished McMaster alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in economics, is a founding co-chairman of the Historica Foundation of Canada (www.histori.ca). The foundation’s mandate is to provide Canadians with a deeper understanding of their history and its importance in shaping the future. Wilson, who also holds a master of arts degree in economics from Cornell University, is hailed as a keen supporter of the study of Canadian history and believer in the value of a broad liberal arts education.

“Understanding our past is a bridge to a better future,” Wilson said today at a ceremony announcing his generous donation. “The study and teaching of Canadian history deserves much greater emphasis in all of our educational institutions and McMaster is well-equipped to lead the way. As a country comprising people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, a broad appreciation of our history is an essential foundation on which to build a shared understanding, so that we can continue to encourage reasonable loyalty and foster responsible citizenship.”

The L. R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History will be a renowned historian who will have a research specialization in Canadian historical studies and will teach undergraduate and graduate students. The L. R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History will have a mandate to work with an interdisciplinary advisory board to develop history seminars, annual conferences, lectureships and an annual juried book competition to name the best book on Canadian history.

Wilson is currently chairman of the board of CAE Inc. and of Nortel Networks Corp. His distinguished career in Canadian business includes being president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of BCE Inc. as well as president and chief executive officer of Redpath Industries Ltd. He is a director of DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc. and DaimlerChrysler AG. In recognition of his many achievements, he was the recipient of the 1994 International Business Executive of the Year Award. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997 and is the recipient of six university honorary degrees, including one from McMaster in 1995.

Wilson’s involvement with the University extends across campus. He has been a generous benefactor of student scholarships and his past support helped create an endowed chair in data communications in the Faculty of Engineering. Wilson also chaired McMaster’s Changing Tomorrow Today campaign, the most successful fundraising campaign in the University’s history.

McMaster President Peter George said Wilson’s generosity with his time and financial support throughout the years has contributed significantly to McMaster’s ability to foster a stimulating, innovative environment for teaching, learning and research.

“Red Wilson is a true friend to McMaster,” said President George. “Once again his generosity and vision inspire us. He is a champion whose gift will help us launch a new era in the way we teach and learn history at McMaster and allow us to share our expertise with others in our community and across the country.”

Nasrin Rahimieh, dean of the Faculty of Humanities, said the professorship reinforces the Faculty of Humanities’ commitment to collaboration and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

Canadian history plays an important role in the teaching and research interests of faculty members inside and outside McMaster’s Department of History. Professors interested in the history of Canada can be found in the areas of English, kinesiology, political science, psychiatry, medicine, geography, labour studies, engineering, anthropology, French, communication studies and theatre and film studies.

“We’re very excited to have this opportunity to expand the Faculty of Humanities with this professorship that will encourage the study of Canadian history in a number of academic disciplines,” Rahimieh said.

Rahimieh said she hopes to fill the professorship later this year.