Distinguished Kwang-Wu Kim named Columbia’s president


Kwang Wu Kim, Columbia College’s new president/CEO

In what can be viewed as a surprise move for one of the biggest film schools in the US, Columbia College appointed a distinguished music educator and performing artist as its new  president and CEO.

Chicago native Kwang-Wu Kim, D.M.A., was voted by the school’s board of trustees to succeed Dr. Warwick L. Carter, who is retiring after 11 years of college leadership.

“Columbia College has captured my heart and my imagination,” said Kim, known as an outspoken advocate for the arts and a proponent of the need to rethink the way that artists are educated.

Kim, who begins his contract in July as the 10th president in Columbia College’s 123-year history, 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, he will receive a faculty appointment in the college’s Music Department.

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.

The panel was created to represent a cross-section of perspectives in the college,” said panel chairman and trustee Richard P. Kiphart.  “The panel structure encouraged an extremely collaborative, thoughtful process that guided us in reviewing a talented and diverse candidate pool.  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, with a current enrollment of nearly around 12,000.

In 2012, The Hollywood Reporter named Columbia College one of the 25 top film schools in the US.

Dr. Carter also has a background in music, as an educator, composer and performer. He had been director of entertainment arts for Disney entertainment and earlier spent 12 years at Berklee College of Music in Boston as VP/academic affairs.

During his Columbia College tenure, school enrollment increased by almost 25% to approximately 12,000 graduate and undergraduate students. The 2012 graduating class of 2,000-plus was almost double the number of graduates of 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.