Students express approval for Kim

by Emily Fletcher and Angie Yang | 8/18/11 10:00pm

Editor's Note: This is the third and final part of a series chronicling College President Jim Yong Kim's first two years at Dartmouth.

Out of 230 students interviewed by The Dartmouth, 118, or 51 percent, said they approved of College President Jim Yong Kim's performance in his first two years as president. Thirty-two students, 14 percent of those interviewed, said they disapproved of his presidency, while 80 abstained from commenting decisively on his performance.

Students were interviewed around campus at several different times and asked the question, "Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Kim is doing as president?" The sample of Dartmouth students consisted almost entirely of members of the Class of 2013 who are on campus for sophomore Summer and who started at the College in 2009 at the same time as Kim. These students are the first to have been at Dartmouth for the duration of Kim's time at the College.

Many students who abstained from commenting said that while they did not generally disapprove of Kim's performance, they also thought Kim should work to have a stronger presence on campus and in the Dartmouth community.

"I feel like he's distant," Stephen Cheung '13 said, adding he approved of Kim's performance overall. "He's a fundraiser. I don't see him around that often. I expected him to close the budget deficit, and he did this well."

Other students commented on their general ambivalence about Kim's performance, and many said they did not know enough about his work to comment.

"I don't know exactly what he's changed since coming in," Ivy Ddamba '13 said.

Chief of Staff David Spalding said that Kim is committed to being an involved member of the community.

"President Kim's objective is to be a visible individual on campus and be actively engaged with students," Spalding said.

Kim attended and participated in Astronomy 3, a class with an enrollment of over 170 students, earlier this term, Spalding said.

"He certainly looks for opportunities where he could have the chance to interact with large numbers of students," Spalding said.

Kim's focus on the Dartmouth community drives him to turn down "40 or 50 requests from external groups each year" for speaking engagements, Spalding said.

In the last year, Kim spent 85 percent of his "time at work" on campus, Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College, said in an email to The Dartmouth.

Students expressed confusion over the College president's role on campus. Spalding said that this is not unique to the Kim administration, and that he was also unaware of administrative positions while a student at the College.

Many students interviewed said they did not feel that they had an outlet to express their views on campus issues to Kim.

Spalding cited the creation of the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee, which involved a "substantial amount of [student] input," as an example of Kim's dedication to working with students.

"He responds to emails that are sent to him, and we will help with that effort as he needs us to," Spalding said. "He certainly reads all of the emails that are sent."

Students brought up a number of specific issues that they said either contributed or detracted from Kim's success as president. Several students approved of Kim's performance overall but expressed displeasure with the new SmartChoice dining plan being implemented in the fall. Others approved of Kim with the caveat that they do not approve of the services provided by Dick's House.

A female member of the Class of 2013 who wished to remain anonymous disapproved of Kim's presidency thus far because her financial aid has decreased every term since she has been at the College, a process she finds "exhausting."

While several students spoke positively about Kim's health care work, others said that they think he has spent too much money on health-related projects.

Staff writers Ashley Blum, Stephen Kirkpatrick, Priya Krishna, Laura Bryn Sisson and Dong Zhao contributed reporting to this article.

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