Kwang‑Wu Kim, D.M.A., has been the president and chief executive officer of Columbia College Chicago since July 1, 2013. A native Chicagoan with over thirty years of experience as a performer, teacher, and administrator, he is an outspoken advocate of the value of creative practice as a mode of learning, understanding, and creating new knowledge. During his tenure as president, he has, among other initiatives, overseen a comprehensive revision of the college’s curriculum; an expansion of the college’s student advising, counseling, and career development services; and the construction of a new $55 million student center.
A prime focus of Dr. Kim’s presidency to date has been the development and implementation of a five-year strategic plan for the college that the Board of Trustees approved in May 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 aspiring creatives. Dr. Kim has discussed different elements of this vision, and the key institutional priorities and action items that flow from it, in his speeches, writings, and interviews with media outlets.
Dr. Kim came to Columbia from Arizona State University (ASU), where he served as dean and director of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, 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 ASU, 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, he 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.
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.