William J. Doyle (CAS ’72) was received as a guest of honor at Georgetown Thursday in recognition of his recent $10 million gift to the university.
Doyle, the president and CEO of fertilizer company PotashCorp, and his wife Kathy made the monetary contribution that endows the Doyle Initiative, an effort to encourage tolerance and diversity at Georgetown, in October.
“As the world got larger and more connected, we became less connected in terms of sensitivity to one another,” Doyle said. “I think we all have prejudices, myself included. It’s almost impossible to get through life up to age 18 without any prejudices or preconceived notions.”
The gift was recognized at the annual Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium, which was followed by a celebration in Riggs Library held by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.
The Doyle Initiative was founded on a trial basis three years ago with the help of an earlier donation from the Doyles and has been led by Dean Chester Gillis, Director of the Berkley Center ThomasBanchoff and English professor Randy Bass.
The faculty team has worked to integrate its thematic values with classroom curriculum through initiatives including undergraduate fellows seminars – four-credit classes that are accompanied by a research project – and a junior year abroad network. All of the initiative’s programs are run through the Berkley Center.
Doyle chose to permanently endow the program due to its success so far.
According to Doyle, his time as an undergraduate at Georgetown during the late 1960s and early 1970sinfluenced his commitment to fighting prejudice.
“It was a time of tremendous idealism, and I don’t think we ever lost that sense of idealism for a better, peaceful world,” he said.
Doyle has maintained a close relationship with the university since his graduation.
“I can’t imagine any other school better equipped to take on this subject matter because we educate the whole person,” he said. “There’s a difference here. Georgetown has a soul.”
Doyle gave his first gift of $20 to the university while working as a sales trainee in the agricultural industry immediately after graduating.
“We need to make it possible for the next generation to have [the] same experience [I did],” he said. “If you can donate beer money one Friday night, that will make a difference.”