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Michael Kim '85, the new Chair of the Haverford Board of Managers. Photo by Jamel Toppin for Forbes Asia.

Michael Kim Named Chair of Board of Managers as President Raymond Sets Sights on 2030 

Michael Kim ’85 will be the next Chair of the Haverford’s Board of Managers. This appointment is a massive step for the college as it looks to meet its ambitious 2030 strategic plan and reach a $1 billion endowment.

Hailed as the “godfather of Asian equity,” Kim has made his fortune with his private equity firm MBK Partners. Currently worth 9.7 billion dollars, Kim topped the most recent Forbes list of Korea’s richest and was #42 in Bloomberg’s 2015 list of the 50 most influential people in the world.

After graduating from Haverford with an English degree, Kim attended Harvard Business school. He worked at Goldman Sachs and various financial institutions before eventually returning to his native South Korea to found MBK Partners, which is now the largest private equity fund in Korea and one of the largest in Asia. Aside from finance, Kim has put his English degree to good use, publishing the bestselling fiction book “Offerings.” He has remained involved with Haverford since graduation, most notably through donating Kim Hall, which is named after his father.

Kim has also served as vice-chair of the board for the past year, and will be replacing Charley Beever ’74. “Charley has served on the board for the past 15 years and he’s willing to hand off the reins,” said President Wendy Raymond. Beever steered the College through challenging times and several presidents, and will step aside for Kim as planned.

The College will likely feel an immediate financial boost from the addition of Kim. Kim and the board “will lead with their own philanthropy, as well as intersecting with lots of other philanthropists to bring them into making endowment gifts to the college,” said President Raymond. Kim’s philanthropy will be a major help to the endowment, something President Raymond was very open about.  Combining this with earnings from the school’s recent partnership with Investure, an investment office that is also partnered with several other academic institutions, Haverford’s endowment is trending in the right direction.

This flashy move comes with the backdrop of a school still reeling from bad investments in the 2008 financial crisis. The recession saw Haverford’s endowment drop by a staggering 185 million dollars to fall to 336 million dollars, and the school has struggled to fully recover since. This was not just a standard case of a school’s struggles in a difficult time— the college lost a higher percentage of its endowment than any other institute of higher education in the country.

These issues long predate President Raymond’s administration, but the effects are still felt today. The massive endowment hit has made it difficult for the college to re-invest today. “We didn’t have capital or liquidity to invest early in the bull run like so many organizations were able to,” said Raymond. 

Haverford Vice President and Chief of Staff Jesse Lytle admits that while that stat may be “juicy,” he asserts that “over time we are more or less in line with peers.” Nonetheless, it is clear that the school’s recovery is still not complete.

The school’s strategic plan, Better Learning, Broader Impact — Haverford 2030, focuses on the pillars of enhancing the liberal arts curriculum, strengthening the athletic program, and building up the endowment. Striving to increase the endowment by 50% by 2030 (reaching 1 billion dollars), Raymond said “we might not get to that by 2030, but we will shortly after.” 

Financial aspects aside, President Raymond explained that “Michael believes so much in the power of a Haverford education.” A financial titan and novelist, his career has been a testament to liberal arts education. Now, he gets his chance to make sure that education at his beloved school, where he even sent his son, is secure for generations of Haverford students.

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