Robert Ewen (BA ’71)

60th Anniversary Alumni Award Recipient

Robert (Bob) Ewen (BA ’71) started off as an engineering student before being drawn to philosophy and switching majors. When he met philosophy professor Paul Seligman in his third year, it was a life-changing moment.

“He told me, ‘You have a very deep understanding of Heraclitus,’ ” says Ewen. “That was a major revelation. The window opened, and all of a sudden I was seeing my place in the world. It was like Einstein saying you have a deep understanding of physics. He really changed my life.” 

It’s also why Ewen, who built a solid career in finance while never losing sight of the philosophers who inspired him, is a generous supporter of philosophy students today. In fact, for nearly a decade he has paid forward to the philosophy department and Faculty of Arts his advice, service and major philanthropic investments to help advance their mission and goals and to help current and future students. 

As the newly retired senior vice president of National Bank Financial, Ewen is deeply proud of his connection to this University. “I’m much more a philosopher than a businessman,” he says. “Philosophy taught me how I think. Business taught me how everybody else thinks. I was able to take advantage of the gap between these two ways of thinking, which was a major contributor to my success.”

Inspired by the vision and leadership of the first president of this University, founder Joseph “Gerry” Hagey, Ewen supported the development of Hagey Hall with a significant donation. He also participates in professional development activities for students as well as networking events.

“I have such a profound respect for the founders,” Ewen says. “Gerry Hagey was a strategic genius who built all this from nothing, this cooperative school where you can earn your own way without having rich parents. Within 10 years of founding, I believe we were No. 1 in math, No. 1 in engineering. How can we not be proud? We made the world a better place and we all made ourselves better people. There is a connectivity.”