By: Steven Appelbaum, June 1999
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Peter Munk, well-known philanthropist, industrialist andbusiness leader who is presently at the helm of two of Canada's most impressive business empires, Barrick Gold and TrizecHahn.
Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Hungary in 1927, Mr. Munk spent his early years in war-torn Europe. The family managed to escape to Switzerland and, when he was 20 years old, finally immigrated to Canada. Since most of the family fortune had been lost dung the war, he put himself through school picking tobacco, and graduated from the University of Toronto in 1953 with a degree in electrical engineering.
In 1958 he embarked on his first business venture co-founding a consumer electronics company, Clairtone Sound Corporation. He spent nine years as the company's Chief Executive Officer until the Nova Scotia government, which provided financial backing, took over control of the company.
After leaving Clairtone Sound, he took his business expertise abroad, building the multi-million dollar Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation in Fiji. By the time he sold the corporation 11 years later for some $150 million, it consisted of 80 different resorts and hotels.
In 1980, Mr. Munk returned to Canada with his family, and three years later he formed the gold company American Barrick Resources Corporation. Always on the lookout for new opportunities, he watched events unfold in the troubled South Africa of the early 1980s and was convinced that the time was right to begin acquiring gold mines in North America. His instinct was correct and over the years he has built and developed one of the world's most successful gold producers, now known as Barrick Gold Corporation. In fact, Barrick is the only gold producer in the world with an "A" credit rating, and the most profitable.
In 1987 he formed the Horsham Corporation to diversify from gold, and then merged it with the Trizec Corporation to create TrizecHahn, the second largest public real estate company in North America. He serves as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the corporation.
He is a member of a number of prestigious organizations, including the World Gold Council and the Toronto Hospital Board of Trustees, Canada's largest health care provider. He has received numerous honours and awards from his peers. He was named Canada's Mining Man of the Year in 1993 and in 1997 he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. He has also been recognized by his country, being named an Officer of the Order of Canada, the highest honour a private citizen can receive.
He has a strong commitment to his alma mater, the University of Toronto, and is Chair of the University of Toronto Crown Foundation. In 1997, he and his companies donated $6.4 million to the University to establish the Munk Centre for International Studies.
Peter Munk's philanthropy has also extended to the Toronto Hospital with a $6 million donation to create the Peter Munk Cardiac Center, and to Technion, Israel's leading technological university, to establish the Munk Center for Research., Innovation and Technology.
Mr. Munk has been successful in business because he genuinely enjoys what he does and his commitment to Barrick Gold and TrizecHahn is unwavering. Although he never doubted that he would be successful, he still refuses to take it for granted. In his biography, Peter Munk: The Making of a Tycoon, he says, "When you are the world's most profitable gold mining house, you've got to pinch yourself. It's the dream of your dreams."
Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, Peter Munk, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
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