Kim talks provost search, student center

By Katherine Savage, Staff Reporter

Mike Rundle
Columbia President and CEO Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim speaks to students at the annual “Let’s Chat with Dr. Kim” event Nov. 13 at Stage Two, 618 S. Michigan Ave.

During a recent Let’s Chat with Dr. Kim event, senior fine arts and animation double major Megan McGowan said the biggest problem for Columbia is a lack of communication between the college and students.

“I try to come to a lot of these to stay informed, and that’s [what] my question was about,” McGowan said, adding that it is best to get information directly from a source such as Dr. Kim.

The Student Government Association-hosted event provided students with this opportunity. During the event, Kim addressed  topics such as the communication gap, the new provost search, updates on the student center, and complaints of limited Career Center opportunities for students.

The annual fall event was held Nov. 13 at Stage Two in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. building. Kim was accompanied by his cabinet members, including Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Suzanne Blum Malley.

Kim explained the job of the provost is to oversee the college’s academic affairs, such as evaluation and promotion of faculty members and curriculum changes. He said he wants to find someone who agrees with Columbia’s values. “This is both an incredibly exciting and a very vibrant place, but it is also a very difficult place.”

An internal search committee of 19 members includes SGA President and junior cinema art and science major Jazmin Bryant. Kim said the committee is specifically looking for a woman to be the next provost to increase diversity on campus.

“A woman may bring a very different understanding of the world and a different modality of communication,” Kim said. “It’s also an important validation to our own community that we’re constantly seeking to diversify the leadership team.”

Kim also addressed two construction delays of the student center due to underground problems caused by CTA tracks. Despite the delay, the student center is expected to be completed in early summer, Kim said.

The student center will provide space for clubs and organizations, a fitness center, study space and an interfaith room. The fifth floor will be an event space that could seat about 750 people and 1,200 to 1,300 people for standing room-only events, Kim said.

McGowan said she is concerned about the comfort of the study and lounge areas in the  building. According to Kim, the design was thoughtfully chosen to accommodate comfort and style. He said he sat in every piece of furniture.

Andy Dutil, director of the student center, said there will be a board made up of staff and students to address these issues.

“This is a student center first, so student activities and programming come first,” Dutil said. “We are going to come up with ways to prioritize that space and to come up with programming holes and different ways we could accommodate everybody.”

Some students were concerned with the lack of job fairs held by the college. The Career Center will host an internship fair in February and a job fair in April, according to Erik Friedman, associate dean of career development and industry relations. In 2017, the center held a job and internship fair in April, but none so far this year. The fairs are typically held in the spring semester at the request of companies, Friedman said.