Professor Donald Ainslie was born in Toronto and attended the University of Toronto Schools and then Queen’s University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1988. As he neared the end of his studies, he became interested in fundamental questions about the nature of mathematics that ultimately led him to pursue a doctorate in philosophy, which he received from the University of Pittsburgh in 1996.
Later that year, he joined the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, and from 2003 to 2011 served as Chair of the Department, where he oversaw significant enrollment growth and faculty renewal.
In 2011, he was appointed as the 16th Principal of University College and he will serve in this role until December 31, 2019. During his term as Principal he has spearheaded a campaign to revitalize the historic University College building by, among other things, creating a new library and conference centre, and significantly increasing accessibility. In addition, he has deepened and strengthened the College’s academic programs and helped to establish the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, a federation of UC’s Art Centre and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House.
During his tenure at University College, he has also served as the Provostial Advisor on Undergraduate Humanities Education (2014-18) and as the Co-Chair of the Landmark Project, which will pedestrianize the historic core of the St. George campus.
His research and teaching focus on the history of modern philosophy and bioethics. His book, Hume’s True Scepticism, was published by Oxford University Press in fall 2015 and won the Journal of the History of Philosophyprize for the best book in this field in 2016.