Barnes & Noble founder, Leonard Riggio, to step down as chairman, remain on board
The Board has appointed Paul B. Guenther to serve as non-executive Chairman, effective once Riggio steps down
New York, NY – April 27, 2016 – Barnes & Noble Founder & Chairman, Leonard Riggio, today announced that he will retire as Chairman of the Company following the annual shareholder meeting currently planned for September, and intends to remain on its Board of Directors. The Board has appointed Paul B. Guenther to serve as non-executive Chairman upon Mr. Riggio stepping down. Mr. Guenther, former President of Paine Webber Group, Inc., has been a member of the Barnes & Noble Board since 2015 and serves as Chair of the Audit Committee. The Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Ron Boire, will report to the Board of Directors.
“I’ve done everything I have wanted to do in business and now it is time for me to pursue the many other endeavors related to my philanthropic and social interests,” said Mr. Riggio.
Mr. Riggio went on to say, “I intend to remain a shareholder of Barnes & Noble for years to come. I have complete confidence in the management team and their ability to take this Company to the next level of bookselling and I have every intention of offering my help and support. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with our Board of Directors and I couldn’t be more pleased that Paul has stepped up to take on this new leadership role.”
Starting with a single college bookstore in 1965, Mr. Riggio built one of the largest enterprises in the history of American retail. He has become widely known as a visionary in the bookselling industry, and as a brilliant marketer and entrepreneur. Over his lifetime, in addition to building Barnes & Noble into one of the largest retail organizations in America, Mr. Riggio also founded Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, one of the largest contract operators of bookstores on college and university campuses in the United States, and GameStop, the world’s largest videogame retailer. In all, the enterprises he created operate more than 8,000 stores and employ more than 100,000 people.
Mr. Riggio is also well known for his philanthropic work in the areas of public education, civil and human rights, literacy and the arts. His contributions include the building of Dia: Beacon, one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world; the building and gifting of 170 homes to families who lost theirs in Hurricane Katrina; the building and gifting of The Langston Hughes Library and The Riggio-Lynch Chapel on the grounds of the Alex Haley Farm, in Clinton, Tennessee, the permanent home for the Children’s Defense Fund “Leave No Child Behind®” movement; the creation of the Writing & Democracy Program at the New School in New York; numerous university fellowships, scholarship programs to promote diversity in education, endowment funding of museums and university programs, and funding for site-specific works by American artists.
In all, Mr. Riggio has served on nearly two dozen not-for-profit boards. He has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Baruch College of the City University of New York, Bentley College, Adelphi University, Tusculum College and Long Island University. He has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs at Babson College and the Texas A&M Retail Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the board of The Fund for Public Schools of New York.
His commitment to promoting equality and diversity has earned Mr. Riggio 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.” In 2009, Mr. Riggio served as the Chairman of the host committee for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights group.
Mr. Guenther currently serves as a Director of ZAIS Group Holdings, a NASDAQ-listed investment company focusing on investments in specialized credit strategies. He also serves as Director of Guardian Life Insurance, a Fortune 250 financial services company and one of the largest individual disability income insurance providers in the U.S. and Chairman of Community & Southern Holdings, a community bank with over $3 billion assets. Mr. Guenther serves as the Chairman of the executive committee at Lenox Hill Hospital and serves as a Director of Fordham University, where he previously served as Chairman of the Board. Mr. Guenther has served as Chairman of the New York Philharmonic and is the former Director of the Securities Industry Association and a former President and Director of Columbia’s Graduate School of Business Alumni Association.