Columbia College Chicago Trustees Approve Kwang-Wu Kim as President/CEO

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Dr. Kim's appointment as Columbia College Chicago's 10th president follows unanimous recommendation of search advisory panel, overwhelmingly positive response at campus forums from faculty, staff and students.

The Columbia College Chicago Board of Trustees today voted to appoint Kwang-Wu Kim, D.M.A., as president and chief executive officer of the college. He is the 10th president in Columbia College’s 123-year history.

Kim, who begins his contract in July, has more than 30 years of experience in performance, teaching and administration. He is currently dean and director of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and professor of music at Arizona State University. In addition to his presidential role, Kim will receive a faculty appointment in the college’s Music Department.

“Dr. Kim’s campus tours and open forum presentations generated an overwhelmingly positive response from the Columbia College community as a whole,” said Allen M. Turner, chair of the Columbia College Board of Trustees. “That type of consensus is extremely rare in higher education, and it was a key indicator that he was the ideal person for the presidency. The campus is truly energized.”

Kim’s appointment ends a five-month national search after which a 22-member Presidential Search Advisory Panel representing faculty, administrators, students and trustees unanimously recommended his appointment as president to the Columbia College Board of Trustees. Following two open campus forums earlier this month, Kim also received resoundingly positive feedback from faculty, staff and students.

“We purposely created a Presidential Search Advisory Panel that represented a cross-section of perspectives in the college. The panel structure encouraged an extremely collaborative, thoughtful process that guided us in reviewing a talented and diverse candidate pool,” said Richard P. Kiphart, a trustee and chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Panel. “It was unusual that such a diverse group unanimously agreed on one finalist.”

Students, faculty and staff alike have praised Kim’s open-door leadership approach, his proactive perspective on fundraising and his well-rounded wealth of experience as essential in driving Columbia College’s continued growth as the largest private arts and media college in the nation.

“Columbia College has captured my heart and my imagination,” said Kim. “Under President Carter’s leadership, Columbia has advanced to a rare moment of opportunity. I am excited to engage the entire Columbia community in seizing that opportunity, working to provide our students with the educational depth and breadth they need to ensure their success in their futures, building new support for Columbia and bringing to fruition Columbia’s potential for innovative leadership in teaching creative practice in the 21st century.”

Kim will succeed Warrick L. Carter, Ph.D., who announced his retirement last year. Carter, who will remain in office until the transition this summer, has been president of the college since 2000. During his tenure, enrollment increased by almost 25 percent to more than 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students. The size of the 2012 graduating class of more than 2,000 students almost doubled the number of graduates who walked the stage a decade ago. The urban campus footprint has doubled to 2.5 million square feet of occupied classroom, office, exhibit/performance and residence hall spaces, making the college the largest single presence in the downtown South Loop area.

About Kwang-Wu Kim:
A native Chicagoan born and raised in Hyde Park, Kwang-Wu Kim is an outspoken advocate for the arts and a proponent of the need to expand the role of creative practice in society and to rethink the way that artists are educated. He assumed the role of dean of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University in 2006 and in 2009 was named dean and director of the newly created Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Kim holds a doctorate of musical arts degree and an artist diploma from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, where he was a pianist and teaching associate. He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, magna cum laude, from Yale University. Prior to his arrival in Arizona, Kim served as president of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., and as artistic and administrative director of El Paso Pro-Musica and co-founder of the El Paso Chamber Music Festival. Aside from his professorship at Arizona State University, Kim has held teaching positions at the Longy School of Music, the University of Texas at El Paso, the Peabody Institute and Dickinson College.

As a pianist, Kim made his solo debuts at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington D.C.’s Phillips Collection, his orchestral debut with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and was presented at the Marlboro Festival by then artistic director, Rudolf Serkin.

About Columbia College Chicago:
Today, Columbia College Chicago is the largest private non-profit arts and media college in the nation, providing a comprehensive educational opportunity in the visual, performing, media and communication arts, and within a context of a liberal education.

It was founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. In the ensuing decades, programs in teaching, radio broadcasting, television, journalism, marketing and other communications areas were gradually added. In 1960, it was still a small and specialized school with fewer than 200 students and a part-time faculty of 25. In the 1960s, the college developed a liberal arts curriculum and embraced a generous admissions policy as a deliberate move to increase access and opportunity. The policy allowed prospective students interested in arts, media and communications fields who might not otherwise have attended a four-year college to enroll at Columbia while gaining a liberal arts education. With a renewed focus on its academic program, Columbia was awarded full accreditation as a four-year undergraduate liberal arts college in 1974 from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to nearly 11,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit

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Media Contacts:
Steve Kauffman, office: 312.369.7383, cell: 312.307.9534, skauffman(at)colum(dot)edu
Erin Purdy, office: 312.369.8695, cell: 810.423.0017, epurdy(at)colum(dot)edu

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