The Karbank Challenge

The Karbank Challenge is premised on the view that if the academic study of philosophy is to have real-world impact, it must also have real-world support.

Steven Karbank graduated from Boston University in 1979 with a double major in philosophy and psychology, and returned to Kansas City, Missouri where he has had a successful career in business. His home department at Boston University and the professors who taught him have had a lasting impact on his life. (Please see the letter from Steven Karbank published in the Fall 2003 CAS/GRS alumni magazine.) In recognition of that valuable experience, Mr. Karbank initiated what has to be one of the most generous and exciting challenge gifts in the history of the department: over the course of the five years, he committed to provide up to $100,000 as a challenge gift to encourage others to contribute to the support of the Department of Philosophy.

The terms of the Challenge were as follows: each gift of $100 or more made to the support of the Philosophy Department will count toward the challenge and will be matched on a dollar for dollar basis by Mr. Karbank, up to a total of $100,000. Mr. Karbank especially wishes to encourage philosophical work on environmental issues, and gifts made to this purpose are particularly welcomed, although all gifts of $100 directed to support of the department, its programs, and its students qualified toward the challenge.

We are delighted to announce that in March of 2007, the Challenge was declared successful. The department is profoundly grateful to all of those who contributed. The direct beneficiaries are Boston University’s philosophy students, first and foremost. We thank you on their behalf.

A number of small endowment funds that could receive such gifts are already established for the department’s benefit. Some of these were created in honor of former faculty members such as Peter Bertocci, Borden Parker Bowne, and Edgar S. Brightman; another is named the “Excellence in Philosophical Studies Fund.” Expenditures from these funds are taken from the annual income that they generate rather than from their principal. All are intended to foster excellence in philosophy among both graduate and undergraduate students. A donor to the department may choose to support one of the two funds. The gift may be added to endowment or be put in a special non-endowment fund that is also available to the department.

Given our achievements, the sheer amount of student interest in the department (we teach approximately 3,200 students per year, and have some 265 majors and 45 minors!), and our unwavering commitment to teaching as well as research, we are very much in need of resources appropriate to our ambitions. These resources must necessarily come from friends and supporters of the department.

For further information about opportunities to support the philosophy department please contact:

Hank Geng
Senior Leadership Gift Officer
College of Arts & Sciences Development & Alumni Relations
595 Commonwealth Ave, West Entrance, Ste 700
Email: or Phone: 617-358-6205


Charles Griswold
Professor of Philosophy
Director of Fundraising and Alumni Outreach
Boston University
Department of Philosophy
745 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 624
Boston, MA 02215

E-mail:, Phone: 617-353-5546