From his modest beginnings in depression-era Winnipeg, F. Ross Johnson (MBA 1956) rose to become the chief executive of RJR Nabisco, one of the most influential and innovative businessmen of the 20th century, and a passionate philanthropist, whose leadership of civic and non-profit groups aided many. The F. Ross Johnson Distinguished Speaker Series at the Munk School of Global Affairs’ Centre for the Study of United States (CSUS) has brought many high-profile scholars to campus.
“The F. Ross Johnson Distinguished Series has served as a vehicle for exploring critical questions that affect the United States, most recently, a year-long series on inequality,” said CSUS Interim Director Professor Robert Vipond. “As a Canadian who spent most of his adult life south of the border, F. Ross Johnson understood that Canada has a lot riding on understanding the United States in a way that is both clear and nuanced. That’s where his philanthropy and CSUS’s core mission met and flourished.”
He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1986, the Silver Jubilee Medal, the Golden Jubilee Medal and the Confederation Medal; he also received the Silver Medal of Patriotism in the United States and France’s Versailles Award.
F. Ross Johnson passed away on December 29, 2016 at age 85. He thoughtfully remembered the CSUS in his will, with his final gift designated to provide seed funds to carry on his legacy of attracting top Americanist scholars to Toronto.