Barnes & Noble founder and chairman Leonard Riggio will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Adelphi University at the university’s 116th Commencement ceremony on May 18. The degree recognizes Mr. Riggio’s accomplishments in business as well as his lifetime devotion to civic responsibility and philanthropy.
“Adelphi is honored to bestow this degree upon Leonard Riggio, who shares our vision that personal achievement is measured at least as much in terms of ethics, character and good citizenship as in terms of financial success or material gain,” said Adelphi President Robert A. Scott. “We all know him as the man behind the Fortune 500 company of which he is chairman. But he is much more than a visionary businessman who revolutionized the bookselling industry, and a master marketer and entrepreneur. Leonard has spent much of his lifetime championing civic responsibility, and instilling in people the power of good citizenship as a catalyst for change in the communities in which they work and live.”
Beginning with a single college bookstore in 1965, Mr. Riggio built one of the largest enterprises in the history of American retail. Barnes & Noble is now the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products in the United States, with over 1,300 retail and Barnes & Noble College bookstores nationwide, and 45,000 booksellers. Its award-winning NOOK® brand products have enabled strong growth for the company in the digital content market.
Mr. Riggio is also the founder of GameStop, with 7,000 stores worldwide, and the principal owner of MBS Textbook Exchange, the nation’s largest textbook wholesaler and a provider of logistics and technology. In all, the enterprises in which he is involved employ almost 100,000 people.
Mr. Riggio is devoted to many philanthropic initiatives, and has served on nearly two dozen not-for-profit boards.
One of his recent efforts sprang from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Since the storm struck in 2005 Mr. Riggio has been building homes for families who lost theirs in New Orleans. This year, he and his wife, Louise, will have gifted 101 homes to displaced families through a not-for-profit he created known as Project Home Again.
He also served as chairman of the Dia Art Foundation for eight years, where he led and funded the effort to build Dia:Beacon, one of the world’s most highly respected and revered contemporary art museums.
Mr. Riggio devotes much of his time to public education. He served on the board of the New York City Fund for Public Schools, and led the nation’s first-ever private endowment for a public high school, Brooklyn Technical High School, from which he graduated in 1958.
Mr. Riggio has received numerous awards, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Frederick Douglass Medallion. In 2002, he received the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League, its highest honor. The award cited his work “to celebrate diversity and make the dream of freedom and equality a reality for so many Americans.”
Mr. Riggio has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs at Babson College and the Texas A&M Retail Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Baruch College of the City University of New York, Bentley College, Long Island University and Tusculum College.
The Adelphi University Commencement ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, N.Y. For more information, please contact the Commencement Office at 516.877.4695.
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