Oct. 1, 2016—A generous new gift from University of Michigan Professor Emeritus Donald J. Munro and Ann P. Munro will facilitate the establishment of a tenure-track position in Chinese philosophy at Michigan. The position, which will be housed jointly in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Philosophy in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will make Chinese philosophy an important element of the programs of the two departments.

“Over his long career at the University of Michigan, Donald Munro set the paradigm for the study of Chinese philosophy in the American academy, bringing the Chinese and European philosophical traditions into fruitful conversation without sacrificing their richness or their complexity,” says Donald Lopez, the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies and the chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. “I am delighted that, through this generous gift, his legacy will continue.”

The new professorship will ensure that Chinese philosophical schools, which are underrepresented in departments of philosophy in Europe and North America, will have a prominent place in teaching and scholarship at the University of Michigan in perpetuity.

“The Department of Philosophy is pleased to be able to restore its distinguished tradition of scholarship in Chinese philosophy through the great generosity of Professor Emeritus Don Munro and Ann Munro,” says Elizabeth Anderson, the chair of the Department of Philosophy. “For decades, Professor Munro made U-M a major center for the study of Chinese philosophy and trained numerous students who went on to distinction in this field. As the discipline of philosophy evolves in the global academic scene, inclusion of the Chinese philosophical tradition is increasingly important. We are proud to join the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures in this vital endeavor.”

Munro, an expert in classical Chinese philosophy and neo-Confucian thought, served as a professor of Chinese philosophy and as the chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He retired from the University in 1996. Munro is the recipient of ACLS, Ford Foundation, Guggenheim, National Academy of Sciences, and Social Science Research Council fellowships during his career, and has long been active in establishing and maintaining intellectual and cultural exchange with China.

“Chinese philosophy has opened new challenges and perspectives not widely found in the content of traditional philosophy courses,” says Munro. “Ann Munro has accompanied me when I have taught and lectured in this country and in Asia, and she is mindful of the enthusiasm of students and educators in China to interact with their foreign counterparts who understand both traditions. The ideal candidate for this new fund’s support combines sinology—knowledge of the original texts and spoken competency—with philosophy.” He went on to say that he believes that the faculty position will increase scholarship and collaboration on Chinese philosophy with partners across the globe. 

Andrew D. Martin, the dean of the College of LSA expressed his support: “Professor Munro’s gift will be a terrific new resource that allows us to teach a subject with important implications for both Philosophy and Asian Languages and Cultures.”