Frank Cunningham (1940-2022)

frank cunningham stand before a plaque of innis college principals

The Innis community is saddened by the passing of Frank Cunningham, the College’s sixth principal. Frank died in his Vancouver home on February 4, 2022, with assistance from the Medical Assistance in Dying program. He was 81 years old.

Frank’s five-year tenure as principal of Innis College (2000-05) was marked by his good-humoured yet principled approach.

Frank joined the University of Toronto teaching community in 1967 and retired in 2009. In addition to serving as Innis’s principal, Frank was chair of the Department of Philosophy (1982-88) and also contributed to the establishment of the University’s Bioethics Program and Cities Centre. A past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association, and the author of multiple academic books, including Democratic Theory and Socialism, Frank was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Frank’s commitment to social justice was marked early in his career by his founding membership in the University’s Faculty Committee on Vietnam and Faculty Reform Caucus. He embodied an ongoing devotion to principles of equity and fairness for all, epitomized by his involvement in numerous activist causes. Frank’s service beyond the institution included a seven-year stint as board member of the Annex Residence Association (2007-14).

Frank is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Judge Maryka Omatsu; his sister, Candice; brother, Larry; their children; and his son, Will (by a previous wife).

We join Frank’s family in mourning the loss of a committed leader, trusted colleague, and treasured friend.