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U. of C. Expanding Urban Studies With $35M Gift from Morningstar Founder

By Sam Cholke | March 9, 2016 11:01am
 The University of Chicago is expanding its study of cities after Joe and Rika Mansueto pledged $35 million to launch a new institute.
The University of Chicago is expanding its study of cities after Joe and Rika Mansueto pledged $35 million to launch a new institute.
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Courtesy of the University of Chicago/Dan Dry

HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago is doubling down on its efforts to solve urban problems through a $35 million gift from the founder of Morningstar.

The university announced Wednesday it would launch the Institute for Urban Innovation after alumnus and Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto and his wife, Rika, donated $35 million to the university.

The institute will build on the university’s multidisciplinary approach to researching urban problems and testing out solutions in Chicago through competitive research grants, new classes and internships plus expanded efforts to collect data on cities.

“The dramatic rise in large cities over the past 50 years has created some of society’s most difficult problems and most promising opportunities,” said Joe Mansueto. “Rika and I want to put some of our resources towards addressing these issues.”

Mansueto said he was excited about the university’s ability to bring a multidisciplinary approach to academic problems that could lead to changes in public policy.

The new institute will join the Urban Education Institute and Urban Labs on campus, which are already doing research and testing out possible solutions to issues of housing, crime, health care and other issues in cities.

The institute will also further strengthen ties between academics and administrators at the university in the Office of Civic Engagement, which has in recent years expanded the university’s partnerships with South Side businesses, developers and nonprofits.

“The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will build on the university’s long history of urban scholarship and education, and will bring perspectives from across the institution to develop an understanding of the processes that drive, shape and sustain cities,” said university President Robert Zimmer.

“In recent years our faculty and deans have articulated the opportunity for a multidisciplinary institute that could enhance and foster a distinctive perspective in urban research and education. We are very grateful for the Mansuetos’ support that will enable these ideas to be realized.”

The Mansuetos have pledged more than $60 million to projects at U. of C., donating $25 million in 2008 for the construction of Mansueto Library.

The university is currently looking for a director of the new institute and it will officially form after the director is selected.

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