Student office hours return


Kelly Wenzel

Students have the opportunity to speak directly with President Kwang-Wu Kim with the resumption of president-student office hours.

By Campus Reporter

Within 24 hours of the announcement that president-student office hours will return to Columbia, all four available dates in the Spring 2015 Semester had been filled.

The Office of the President sent out a collegewide email Feb. 16 announcing dates and times for this semester’s president-student office hours, a chance for students to schedule a one-on-one meeting with President Kwang-Wu Kim. With meeting times available on a first come, first served basis and only 20 spots open for the semester, it is an opportunity in high demand. 

First introduced three semesters ago, the office hours began as a way for Kim to get involved with the student body. The hours provide an opportunity for Kim to become acquainted with individual students from all areas of the college and learn about the things that matter to them most, Kim said. 

Students are welcome to discuss anything from departmental issues to post-graduation planning during the meeting. Unaware of what is discussed prior to the meetings, Kim said one of his favorite parts about speaking with students is seeing what topics students bring to the table. 

“One of my favorite aspects of student office hours is the unexpected,” Kim said. “The diversity of experiences our students speak with me about is a vivid reminder of the diversity of our student community.”

According to Kim, this is an opportunity that not many schools are able to offer their students. He said some questioned him when he first mentioned the idea of president-student office hours to colleagues at other universities. 

That thought never crossed his mind when it came to speaking with students at Columbia, he said. Part of the reason why the college’s system works particularly well could be a mutual background in the arts, which could allow for a more open line of communication, he said. 

Another contributing factor is the willingness of students to discuss the issues that are most important to them, he said, characterizing Columbia students as individuals who are both excited and passionate about their education. 

B.J. Allen, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Arts Department, met with Kim during his office hours last semester to discuss the availability of graduate student resources and facilities. Specific concerns included the condition of graduate studio spaces, which she said are limited. 

“I wanted to talk to Dr. Kim to let him know how frustrating that was,” Allen said.

Though Allen has not seen any immediate solution to the issue she presented, she said she was pleased with the opportunity that she got to talk to someone who was receptive to her concerns. Allen was able to schedule an appointment to show Kim the studios, which she thinks was helpful for him to understand what students were working with.

“I don’t know of any particular action that he was able to take,” Allen said. “But he was an extremely good listener and asked me questions, and I really appreciated his time and that he had open office hours. That was awesome.” 

Senior theatre major Lissette Hall met with Kim last year to talk about improving the wellness community at the college, as well as the college’s strategic planning process. According to Hall, keeping open communication lines between students and the administration is necessary for ensuring  the college’s standards remain high. 

“At a university like Columbia, it’s easy to get lost in all the student services and the currently confusing way that some programs function,” Hall said.  “It’s nice to be able to share that with Dr. Kim so hopefully those [things] can be improved and we can really raise the bar at Columbia.”

There is currently a waiting list for students interested in scheduling a meeting, and based on the strong interest, the administration is considering an expansion for the semester. 

“These conversations inspire me to continue to keep our student experiences front and center as I make key decisions about the college with the senior management team and board of trustees,” Kim said. “I am very much looking forward to my upcoming meetings this semester.”