Jose de Jesus Legaspi ’74 saw early in his career that economic opportunities in the Hispanic community were waiting to be seized. The founder and president of the Legaspi Company, a realty services and marketing consultant firm, quickly became a vital link between retail companies and Hispanic customers. He also knew from his own experience that a university education was vital.
These two qualities – in-depth knowledge of the Hispanic market and the education drive – have given Legaspi an influential role in the Loyola Marymount University community. Long active with the Mexican American Alumni Association and a regent of the university, Legaspi has helped Hispanic students become aware of LMU – 19 percent of the LMU student body is of Latino descent. His commitment to the university is personal and professional, as well: His daughter, Cassandra, is a 2006 LMU graduate, and he has LMU alumnus Peter Ruiz ’97, who is also an involved member of MAAA, working for the company as a retail leasing associate.
“Every day I find some greater satisfaction for having gone to Loyola Marymount,” said Legaspi, who grew up in Mexico until his family moved to the Los Angeles area when he was 14.
Legaspi’s biology degree, and the scientific approach he learned, was an advantage when he got a job in the advertising industry after graduation. “My scientific background helped me understand the statistics and the population trends,” he has said. He connected with El Pollo Loco restaurants and helped the company open 21 outlets, as well as becoming the owner of franchises. He started the Legaspi Company in 1979 and has been involved in some of California’s high-profile developments aimed at the Hispanic market, including Fiesta Marketplace in Santa Ana, as well as major developments throughout the United States, such as La Gran Plaza de Fort Worth in Texas and Plaza Fiesta in Atlanta.
Legaspi had to work full time while he attended LMU, and he needed the financial assistance of the club sociales, an informal network of Latino organizations, to pay for his education. That experience is his motivation to work with MAAA. “Our goal is to provide support for Hispanic students and to raise the LMU profile in the Hispanic community, to let them know that this can be their university, too.”
He sees the work of MAAA as a continuation of LMU’s Ignatian traditions. “LMU has always been very good at providing liaisons to constituents and being inclusive.”
Posted Dec. 21, 2009