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To: Faculty, Students, and Staff
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President, and Eric D. Isaacs, Provost
Subject: Mansueto Gift for New Urban Institute
Date: March 9, 2016

We are pleased to announce the establishment of a new institute that will enhance the University’s work in urban scholarship and education and accelerate efforts across campus to address opportunities and challenges facing cities worldwide. The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will be supported by a $35 million gift from Joe and Rika Mansueto. Joe and Rika are both alumni of the College, and Joe is an alumnus of Chicago Booth, and founder and CEO of Morningstar, Inc. 

As a research institution situated in a major city, the University of Chicago has a long history of urban scholarship dating back to our founding and now encompassing relevant programs in the social, natural, and computational sciences, along with the humanities. The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will bring together diverse perspectives and methods of these areas to develop an understanding of the fundamental processes that drive, shape, and sustain cities. The idea of such a multidisciplinary institute, its potential programs, and its capacity to enhance and foster a distinctive perspective in urban research and education at the University of Chicago has been articulated in recent years in a number of reports by faculty and deans. We are very grateful for the Mansuetos’ support that will enable these ideas to be realized.

Our University possesses enormous urban research assets—from individual faculty members working on issues of urbanization to several larger scale programs aimed at urban questions. The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will support cross-disciplinary urban scholarship through competitive seed funding for urban research projects and serve as an intellectual destination for urban scholars, students, policymakers, and practitioners. The Institute will work with the College, divisions, and schools to train the next generation of urban scholars and practitioners with a distinctive multidisciplinary perspective through the development of classes, internships, and other new opportunities for undergraduates and expanded support for graduate students and postdocs with urban interests. The Institute also aims to be a virtual destination by establishing a library of integrated urban data and developing the analytic tools needed to use these data to understand urban areas, both in the U.S. and around the world.

The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will play a key role in the emerging comprehensive and integrative urban-related work of the University. The Mansueto Institute joins the divisions, schools, and the College in a focus on urban scholarship and education and the understanding of policy alternatives. The Urban Education Institute and Urban Labs are focused on practice and direct impact of our research in partnership with policy makers. The Office of Civic Engagement facilitates collaborations with local partners to build capacity in our city, providing a nationally and globally relevant model of information sharing. The University’s efforts bridging urban scholarship, practice, and engagement (UChicago Urban) are well poised to have a significant impact on urban life.

The University will immediately begin a process to search for an outstanding urban scholar and leader to direct the Institute. We expect the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation to commence activities shortly after such a director is appointed and on campus. Discussions are proceeding concerning the Mansueto Institute’s eventual location on campus. 

We are profoundly grateful to Joe Mansueto, AB’78, MBA’80, and Rika Mansueto, AB’91. This new commitment follows their $25 million commitment to the University that enabled us to build the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which opened in 2010. Their latest gift will help enable new, distinctive, and important work of UChicago faculty and students in urban research and innovation and will create new opportunities for urban scholars around the world.