SOICHIRO YOSHIDA:

POINT MAN FOR NAGANO OLYMPICS


In February, the entire world was exposed to Nagano, Japan, site of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. The person most responsible for bringing the games to Nagano is Soichiro "Sol" Yoshida, MBA '69, who led the effort to lobby the International Olympic Committee. "It was hard work campaigning for the Games," Yoshida says, who spent 200 days a year traveling for several years in his efforts. "My experience at MSU really helped . . . I had the confidence I can do anything with just having three hours of sleep." Indeed, while at MSU, Yoshida slept three hours a night to complete his master's degree in only nine months, a feat he endured so he could return to his ill father in Japan. He spent many nights at MSU's library, using the walk back to Owen Hall for meditation. After MSU, Soichiro built a chain of service stations and KFC franchises in Japan. Among his businesses is a biodiesel plant that converts the used KFC oil into automotive fuel. Says MSU business dean Jim Henry, who visited Sol and Carole Yoshida in Nagano last October, "Sol has a strong commitment to MSU. He's proud of his degree and he's very verbal about the impact that MSU had on his life." Sol is especially proud of his coup in making his hometown the setting for a world event, however. "Usually a city like Nagano is very closed-minded," he explains. "I always thought that through the event like the Olympics we can change people and the community. Little by little, especially among young generations." Sol is currently working to develop internships for MSU students to work at his businesses in Japan, says Paul Osterhout, development director for MSU's Eli Broad College of Business. "He's a good friend of the university," says Osterhout. "He's a genuinely good person."