VPUG Candidate Profile: Kiho Kim
Kiho Kim, the Environmental Studies Department chair and the director of the AU Scholars program, emphasized the need for stronger faculty and student engagement and spoke about campus diversity and grading issues at his VPUG town hall Feb. 8.
Kim has been on the AU faculty since 2000. In that time, he has helped grow the Environmental Studies program into its own department, served on the Faculty Senate’s committee on academic programs, was Director of the University College Program and served as a faculty adviser to the women’s club field hockey team, among other positions.
“I’ve been here for a long time, and I’ve really embedded myself in lots of different parts of the University, and I think I have a pretty good understanding of the undergraduate education landscape,” Kim said. “[This job] is an opportunity to scale up the things that are important to me.”
As Vice Provost, Kim said that he would make an effort to encourage faculty to take on more undergraduate mentorship roles by involving them in their research and getting to know them outside of class. He personally would be more involved in living-learning communities and under-supported sports teams.
“I think that more of the faculty can be part of your lives. It’s not because they’re not interested in your lives, it’s just that sometimes it needs additional encouragement, support, and, in some cases, rewards,” Kim said. ‘“I want the faculty to think much more broadly about teaching in terms of engagement.”
At the town hall, several students asked about what Kim would do about diversity among students, faculty and coursework. He said that AU has a difficult time gaining diverse faculty because the University does not have the resources to attract them, such as tenure track positions, and that the University should do a better job reaching out to potential candidates.
To attract a more diverse student body, he said that it would be helpful to look at PELL eligibility not only on a merit basis, and to recruit more transfer students. Kim also said that more cultural studies courses and majors will not necessarily help AU’s diversity problem, as they require diverse faculty to be successful and should not be the only thing that attracts a student to AU.
“It seems not right to me to attract students of a particular socioeconomic background because of a certain major,” Kim said. “We want to attract students who are intellectually curious, not about a particular subject, but I am not completely decided about how that should work out. I see where both sides of the argument come in.”
It was stated at the town hall that grading across the departments is not done to any uniform standard and can lead to grades that are seen as either inflated or unfair. The Vice Provost is the head of academic policies, and Kim said that as Vice Provost he would have professors publish their personal grading scales and expectations to improve this issue.
“Functionally, I don’t think those number scales really mean much, because in terms of how I grade, I have some expectations about what an A student’s product looks like,” Kim said. “Even if you made it uniform, I don’t think it will fundamentally alter how faculty members grade assignments.”