Breakfast of library champions

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When Rika Yoshida, AB'91, interviewed at Morningstar for her first post-college job, the interviewer introduced himself as "Joe." "It wasn't until two weeks later," Rika said, "that I learned he was the CEO of the company." Not only did she get the job helping the investment-research firm start its first publication about Japanese companies, but seven years later she married that low-key executive, Joe Mansueto, AB’78, MBA’80. The two have three children (Rika's "start-ups," Joe joked), and they're working on a new legacy—the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, set to open next to the Reg in 2010.

On campus Wednesday for the library's official groundbreaking ceremony, the Mansuetos first met with almost 30 students over a light-buffet breakfast in the Quad Club library. The students, representing Student Government, the Maroon Key Society, and other leadership groups, dressed in suits and skirts, and they stood and smiled when the Mansuetos rounded the half-dozen tables to greet them.

During a casual Q&A the couple shared stories including Rika's Morningstar interview; Joe's initial foray into entrepreneurship—selling soda out of his Shoreland dorm room; and how they came to make their $25 million donation. Last winter Joe had lunch with President Zimmer, he said, with "no intention of making a gift to the University." But he left that lunch "convinced I was going to give to this library." The students laughed, and then Joe elaborated: "It just really resonated with me. It was already designed and just needed funding. It was the right project at the right place and the right time."

Rika added what appealed to her about the project: "It can benefit the entire student body," she said. The library also encompasses three of the couple's passions: the College; conveying information (aside from Morningstar's publications, the Mansuetos have invested in Inc, Fast Company, and Time Out Chicago magazines); and design. "We were drawn to the design of this library," she said, where the books will live 50 feet underground while a glass-domed ellipse will cover a vast reading room. "There's a freedom and airiness to the reading room. It seems to float on the ground like a jewel."



The Mansuetos talk with Student Government president Matt Kennedy (standing) and Maroon Key Society member Luke Rodehorst; At the groundbreaking ceremony, architect Helmut Jahn hugs Joe Mansueto after presenting his sketches; The official groundbreaking shot: Jahn, Board of Trustees chair Jim Crown, Zimmer, Joe and Rika Mansueto, Provost Tom Rosenbaum, library director Judith Nadler, and sociology professor Andrew Abbott, AM’75, PhD’82, grab their shovels.

Photos by Dan Dry

September 26, 2008