Kwang-Wu Kim, D.M.A., is the president and chief executive officer of Columbia College Chicago. He is the tenth president in the 125-year history of the college. Appointed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees, President Kim has served in this capacity since July 1, 2013.
A native Chicagoan with over thirty years of experience as a performer, teacher, and administrator, President Kim is an outspoken advocate for the arts and a proponent of expanding the role of creative practice in society, and he is deeply committed to preparing students to act as creative agents in society.
A chief focus of Dr. Kim’s presidency to date has been the development of the new five-year strategic action plan for the college that was approved by the Board of Trustees on May 12, 2015. Achieving Our Greatness: A Strategic Action Plan for Columbia College Chicago, 2015-2020 sets out a shared vision for how the college can achieve its full potential as an educational innovator, an incubator of new creative practice, and a generator of real-world success for young creatives. Dr. Kim has discussed various aspects of this vision—including areas of focus and action items—in his speeches, writings, and interviews with media outlets.
Prior to becoming Columbia’s president, Dr. Kim was dean and director of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, which is comprised of the schools of Art; Arts, Media, and Engineering; Dance; Design; Music; and Theatre and Film, as well as the ASU Art Museum. As dean and director, he led a faculty and staff of 500, serving over 5,000 students, and held a tenured professorship in the School of Music. While at Arizona State University, he led the development and creation of a new cross-disciplinary B.A. in Digital Culture, securing $20 million in private support to fund the initiative.
Prior to his work at Arizona State University, Dr. Kim served as president of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as artistic and administrative director of El Paso Pro-Musica and co-founder of the El Paso Chamber Music Festival in El Paso, Texas. In addition to his professorship at Arizona State University, Dr. Kim has held teaching positions at the Longy School of Music, the University of Texas at El Paso, the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and Dickinson College.
Dr. Kim has been a guest lecturer at Boston University and at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and has served as guest faculty member at the St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford University, the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music, the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. He has presented as an invited panelist for the National Association of Schools of Music and has served as a juror at New England Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, and the Boston Arts Academy.
President Kim holds a doctorate of musical arts and an artist diploma from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher and served as Fleisher’s teaching associate. He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, magna cum laude, from Yale University.
As a pianist, Dr. Kim gave his first solo recitals at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Washington, D.C.’s Phillips Collection. He made his orchestral debut with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and was presented at the Marlboro Festival by then artistic director Rudolf Serkin.
In addition to his presidential appointment, Dr. Kim is a faculty member in the Columbia College Chicago Department of Music.