Kim details future plans

By Campus Editor

In the waning days of his first year as president, Kwang-Wu Kim released a 14-page document outlining his vision for the future of the college. 

Kim posted the “Redefining Our Greatness” memorandum to Columbia’s website May 7. The document details Kim’s criticisms of certain college systems and practices, including its “First-Year Seminar” course, overall alumni relations, communications practices and spending habits. 

“I want to be supportive of my own institution, but I hope people recognize that I’m saying ‘Look, there’s a lot of things that we have to be a lot better at,’” Kim said in an May 8 interview with The Chronicle. “I see myself as [being] responsible for getting this school to move.”

The document also calls out several departments that he says need to be updated, such as information technology and internal and external communications. 

The college is currently awaiting the results of  Huron Consulting Group Inc. and Resolute Consulting Group’s communications and business systems audits, as reported by The Chronicle April 14. 

“While seeking new resources, we must make a college-wide commitment to re-examining our spending to ensure that we are making the most efficient use of our resources and allocating them in ways that support the college’s priorities and goals,” Kim said in the memo. 

After the audits are complete, the college will move forward to improve its systems, Kim said. 

“We need to present ourselves to the world in a very different way, more positively and more consistently,” Kim said. “Communications is very important to me and that’s one of the areas that I look forward to getting back [Resolute Consulting Group’s] report.”

Kim said the college needs a common core of classes that include business and entrepreneurship, adding that it is important for students to know how to apply their skills in the workplace post-graduation. 

Although the college is student-centered, it needs to rethink its current student operations such as advising and registration, he added. 

“As we commit to moving forward together, we must reaffirm that our core purpose is to serve our students,” Kim said in the memo.

The document also mentions that students need a central location where they can collaborate, study, socialize, eat and rest safely, adding that the college needs updated performance venues to recruit new students and support current students. 

In the document, Kim talks about the college’s current academic structures and how they may be preventing collaboration across departments, which leads to “frustration, fragmentation and territoriality.”

The document was released to encourage conversations about improving the college, because he wanted to complete it by the end of his first year, Kim said. He plans to have open forums to gather community input in the fall, he added. 

For additional changes, Kim said he will need help from soon-to-be provost, Stan Wearden, and the yet-to-be-named vice president of the new Department of Development.

“In the fall, we’re going to have to develop ways [to have] lots of discussions with different constituent groups,” Kim said. “Change is never easy.” 

“Redefining our Greatness” also touched on the following topics:

  • Re-examining the college structure and stand alone departments in light of reduced employment prospects
  • Elevated standards for faculty who are applying for tenure
  • Emphasis on project-based learning and technology use
  • Increasing Columbia’s freshman-to-sophomore retention rates
  • Increased six-year graduation rates
  • Diversified revenue streams
  • Refining the “First-Year  Seminar” courses to focus on helping students become oriented to the college campus and the city. 

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