Questions for President Kwang-Wu Kim

DEMO: Sharpening Columbia’s focus on employment and professional marketability for graduates is a major goal of your presidency. How will alumni fit into the “Create Your Career” initiative of preparing Columbia students for the professional world?

DR. KIM: Alums are going to play a big part in this because in some cases, we’ll have alums who are hiring our students. But equally important is having a really big network of alumni who are interacting with our students as informal mentors and points of professional connection. Los Angeles is an extraordinary model because we have so many alums
in LA in the film and entertainment industry. Not only are they active about helping to place our students in internships and employment—it’s a very robust relationship—but the people I met all expressed huge excitement at the idea of more interaction with our students. They want to come back to campus. They want to see what we’re doing. They just want to share what they’ve done and what they know with our students.

“For the next few months, I’m going to focus on building relationships with local alumni.”

DEMO: What are your plans for continuing to build alumni relationships?

DR. KIM: For the next few months, I’m going to focus on building the relationships with local alumni because, first of all, the vast majority of our alums are here. I feel like we just haven’t been shining the light at home. Our alums are populating so many different communities, locally. That’s a story I want us to tell more vividly because it’s always great to have stars—and all schools celebrate their stars—but part of the story of this institution is the story of a person who has made a successful life, who is making a difference in the world in part because they were here. That’s the story we’ve got to find and keep telling.