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$25 million gift From Michael B. Kim to establish institute for ethical inquiry and leadership
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$25 million gift From Michael B. Kim to establish institute for ethical inquiry and leadership

One of the most successful Koreans just became Haverford College’s new board chair following his gift of $25 million towards establishing Institute for Ethical Inquiry and Leadership.

With a personal net worth of $9.7 billion, Kim manages more than $26 billion in assets through his company MBK Partners.

Kim was the highest gainer in terms of percentage and absolute value, with a $2 billion increase in his net worth in Korea.

Michael B. Kim was born in Korea but his status as the wealthiest person in Korea may be surprising given the fact that he grew up in New Jersey. He went on to graduate as an English Literature major from Haverford College before obtaining his MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a bestselling novelist as well as a businessman and chooses to split his time fairly equally between the US and Korea.

Michael Kim co-founded MBK Partners in Seoul in 2005 after leaving Carlyle Asia Partners. MBK Partners focuses on the North Asia market and is the owner of Godiva Asia, including all retail and distribution operations in Korea, Japan, and Australia. Beating out a crowded field of bidders, MBK completed the sweet acquisition in June 2019.

According to Korea Economic Daily, MBK Partners has distributed $18.3 billion to its investors. This is one of the highest totals in the North Asia region.

Michael B. Kim’s popular new book, “Offerings,” took 20 years to write and will be made into a movie.

The Institute for Ethical Inquiry and leadership is a cornerstone of Haverford 2030, the College’s strategic plan.

Through it, students will discover new pathways to become the world’s ethical thinkers and leaders.

For generations of Fords, whose first official act upon matriculation is to pledge allegiance to the Honor Code, ‘doing the right thing’ is more than a guiding principle of campus life and work. It becomes a lifelong commitment to the betterment of community by considering how our actions as individuals impact others.

Such concern — captured so well by the distinctly Haverfordian phrase ‘trust, concern, and respect’ — has inspired Michael B. Kim to give the College $25 million to establish and support Haverford’s new Institute for Ethical Inquiry and Leadership.

“Ethical inquiry is at the core of a Haverford education, and leadership without ethics is a body without a soul,” says Michael Kim. “The new Institute, with its interdisciplinary approach and international engagement, will pioneer the way we think about ethics and practice ethics-based leadership in the global community.”

A Haverford education wrestles with critical ethical questions in the classroom, laboratory, studio, and field, encouraging students to steep themselves in ethical inquiry, and to seek justice and right relationship in all of their endeavors. Cultivating a quality of mind, heart, and practice, the Institute will offer an innovative residential liberal arts experience centered on ethics in action. At the heart of the Institute’s work is a cross-disciplinary and practice-based approach that understands ethical impact and global engagement as crucial to the work of the liberal arts. Its unique interdisciplinary context will add depth, breadth, and dimension to the College’s current educational model.

Michael Kim’s foundational gift will catalyze a major fundraising effort to realize the full vision of this new college-wide initiative. Highlights will include:

A new Ethical Inquiry and Leadership sequence within the curriculum, led by the faculty

Endowed professorships across the liberal arts to engage in curricular and programming foci of the Ethical Inquiry and Leadership Institute

Endowed staffing and programming support to engage community leaders and partners in year-round opportunities

A new building that will have flexible, communal spaces for teaching, meeting, research, and active projects, in support of our emerging comprehensive campus plan

“This transformative gift and the Institute it will create clearly articulate Haverford’s enduring commitment to an ethically centered liberal arts education,” says Haverford President Wendy Raymond. “Through the institute, our students will be provided with rigorous, interdisciplinary opportunities as they prepare for lives of integrity, ambition, and purpose. I am extraordinarily grateful for Michael’s incredible leadership and support of the College.”

The Institute is a cornerstone of Haverford 2030, our strategic plan that calls for enlivened pathways through liberal arts education and career development opportunities, new modes of experiential learning, and support for areas of learning that will situate students in the world as ethical thinkers and leaders.

Long involved with his alma mater as a volunteer, Kim served on its Board of Managers from 2005-17. Philanthropically, he stepped up during the College’s most recent fundraising campaign and built one of the 200-acre campus’ newest dorms, naming it for his father, Ki Yong Kim. With his novel published and business well established, Kim has renewed his commitment of service to Haverford and recently returned to the College’s Board of Managers. He will become its chair on July 1.

“I look forward to working, with Wendy Raymond and the College leadership, to advance our central mission of academic excellence and to support our special, values-based community.”

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