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Kim one step closer to presidency
Alexandra Kukulka Campus Editor & Tyler Eagle Assistant Campus Editor
Kwang-Wu Kim, Columbia’s only presidential candidate finalist, will be presented to the board of trustees as the search committee’s nominee, according to a Feb. 15 email sent to the college community from Allen Turner, chair of the board of trustees, and Richard Kiphart, chair of the presidential advisory panel and a board member.
The 22-member presidential search committee “unanimously” agreed to recommend Kim, who is currently the dean and director of the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, in a meeting Feb. 15, the email stated.
Turner said the decision was primarily based on the results of a SurveyMonkey questionnaire that was open to the entire college on Feb. 13, after Kim spoke at two forums at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The forums were the first time Kim addressed the campus community.
A representative from Isaacson, Miller, a search firm the panel hired to aid in the hunt, was impressed with the number of positive responses Kim received, Turner said.
“[The panel] was thrilled to hear that,” Turner said. “We read [the surveys], and we thought they were great, but [the representative] said this is unusual. [Kim] really captured everyone’s attention.”
According to Turner, the panel considered Kim’s leadership, communication skills and expertise in higher education when recommending him to the board.
“We believe the characteristics we described will be evident in the coming years,” Turner said.
Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, who attended the afternoon forum, said he was pleased with Kim and the thoughts he shared with the audience. The community as a whole appreciates the work the presidential advisory panel has done in selecting Kim as the finalist, he added.
“I think [the college] is going to owe the search committee a big debt of gratitude because I think [Kim] appears to be an outstanding candidate,” Kelly said.
Deborah Holdstein, dean of the School of Liberal Art and Sciences, agreed with Kelly, adding she was pleased that the search committee found Kim.
Holdstein, who also attended the afternoon forum, said she was impressed with the way Kim fielded questions from students and faculty members.
“We have an outstanding candidate who understands Columbia and the many different types of educational opportunities we offer our students,” Holdstein said.
Jan Chindlund, dean of the library, who attended the morning forum, said she was impressed with Kim’s remarks, particularly on the need to prepare students for inevitable surprises, like mounting student loan debt.
The forums gave the community insight into how Kim would lead the college and communicate with all of its members, Chindlund said.
“The forums were a great idea,” she said. “They gave us visibility into the leadership and the communication style of [the candidate].”
According to Kelly, Kim’s commitment to being student-centric and present on campus will help bring the college closer.
Kelly said Kim’s opening speech pertaining to access and excellence showed he understands the tension between offering rigorous courses and remaining committed to access and diversity.
“To start his presentation nailing on the head what has been the challenge for Columbia … convinced me that he understands these issues and he will bring leadership to something we always struggle with and endorse at Columbia,” Kelly said.
In regard to Kim’s proposed governance model, which will require a strong partnership between the president and the provost, Kelly said the plan was “spot on.”
After attending the forum and meeting the finalist candidate, Kelly said he would be “thrilled” to work with Kim.
“I think what we all came away with is this impression of a very personable, bright, ambitious individual who is going to bring a lot of energy [to the college] and is determined to bring Columbia to the next level,” Kelly said.