Columbia College Chicago staff release video exposing college president’s financial missteps, call on college administration to avoid layoffs, take thoughtful approach to financial issues

CHICAGO – Professional staff at Columbia College Chicago released this video exposing President Kwang-Wu Kim’s missteps which have had a negative impact on students and staff. The video shows Kim’s net fundraising efforts on behalf of the college are less than half the amount raised by vending machines on campus and also details the negative impacts layoffs have had on the college.

Under the stewardship of Kim and other upper-level administrators, Columbia saw a decline in student enrollment, the elimination of flagship programs and the elimination of hundreds of staff positions.

Kim is leaving Columbia at the end of June and the Board of Trustees is actively looking for a replacement.

“With Dr. Kim’s planned departure, we are calling on the board of trustees to make sure the hiring process is transparent and to make sure we have an equal voice in the process,” United Staff of Columbia College (USofCC) spokesperson Allison Geller said. “We demand that the trustees ensure the administration makes responsible, not reckless, decisions moving forward and that they include staff and students in transparent decision-making processes, including the choice of the next president.”

USofCC has also learned the college administration is misrepresenting the financial issues facing the college. There is significant evidence that shows the college has financial resources they are not considering and choosing to ignore:

  • According to the president’s draft advisory report, Columbia College has $20.4 million in operating reserves.
  • According to IRS financial statements, the college actually has $301 million in unrestricted assets.

“The college’s message is equivalent to saying, ‘I only have $50 in my wallet to last me until the end of the month,’ when you also have $5,000 in your checking account that you just don’t want to spend,” Geller said. “That sort of thinking gives you an idea of how irresponsible this administration has been when it comes to the finances for the college. Our students deserve better.”

USofCC represents 275 professional staff at Columbia College. Professional staff at the college provide critical services to the more than 6,000 students at Columbia, who spend around $31,000 a year in tuition to attend the college.

USofCC is currently negotiating a new contract with Columbia College Chicago. The union’s current contract expires on Aug. 31.


At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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