By Heather Fabritze
Two months ago, new Provost and Dean of Washington College Dr. Kiho Kim officially stepped into his role in Bunting Hall.
Dr. Kim worked for over two decades at American University in Washington, D.C. as a professor and an administrative staff member. His specialty was coral reef ecology and marine biology, and it was with his assistance that AU founded their Department of Environmental Science.
His help also contributed to the existence of the AU Scholars.
Class of 2025 President junior Stephen Hook was a member of the search committee that facilitated the provost hiring process. One of the reasons Dr. Kim stood out to him as a candidate was his history of “rebuilding and revamping” initiatives.
“He is someone who has expressed a commitment to rolling up his sleeves and getting involved in his work from day one,” Hook said. “Dr. Kim has a great energy and during my time with him I appreciated his genuine interest in student perspectives and opinions.”
One of the primary reasons that Dr. Kim was interested in WC was the ability to have a direct connection to students at a small liberal arts college. According to Dr. Kim, he spent a majority of his life in larger cities like Toronto, Washington D.C., Miami, and Buffalo, and he felt that he needed a change of pace.
WC’s intimate environment allowed Dr. Kim to connect with and understand the motivations and identities of the College’s faculty, which he named as being some of his favorite memories of WC thus far.
“[I] want to work with people as individuals…and use those stories to understand the entire group,” Dr. Kim said. “Because I think if you look at any one group in their totality, we miss all of the really interesting and cool stories which add flavor to life and experiences.”
His largest goal in his role is to keep the faculty satisfied so they can effectively continue to help students. To do so, he has been working to understand the systems, structures, and processes of WC.
According to Dr. Kim, it is important to understand an institution’s culture in order to properly lay a groundwork for change.
Assistant Professor of Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Literature Dr. Katherine Charles, who was also a member of the hiring search committee, appreciated the goals that Dr. Kim presented throughout the interview process.
“Kiho’s application was basically boiling over with big ideas and accomplishments, which I won’t attempt to summarize,” Dr. Charles said. “A few things that stood out were his openness, his ability to connect meaningfully with students, and his commitment to egalitarian approaches.”
Another student on the committee, Student Government Association Secretary of Academics junior Claire Garretson, equally supported the changes he hoped to bring. She also appreciated his passion for WC’s existing initiatives.
“He really has an exceptional vision and dedication for the liberal arts and I can’t wait to see how he really brings that to life here,” Garretson said. “I think he has a lot of intention and passion for nurturing what we already have here that’s good and expanding it in a new direction.”
Dr. Kim’s overarching goals for his first few years are to work with other members of the community to increase enrollment and to bring WC’s satellite centers closer to the academic heart of the College.
In the meantime, though, he said that he will continue to enjoy what he has loved about the school so far — sitting on the deck of Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, exploring the faculty’s passions, and meeting students at every opportunity.
“I think Washington College is a wonderful place to really develop [students’] intellectual passions,” Dr. Kim said. “The kinds of experiences and skills that they will gain here are going to set them up really well for life beyond…I think they’re in the right place to be able to navigate this rapidly changing world.”
Photo courtesy of WC website
Photo Caption: Dr. Kiho Kim hopes to advocate for the faculty of Washington College.