VOLUME 28 NO. 12 | MARCH 14 - MARCH 20, 2009

You’ve got (hate) mail
First Asian American Ivy League president faces racism before his first day on the job

Last updated 3-12-09 at 1:53 p.m.
Dr. Jim Yong Kim

Born in Seoul in 1959, Kim’s family moved to the United States when he was 5 years old. He grew up in Muscatine, Iowa. His father, a dentist, taught at the University of Iowa. His mother earned her doctorate in philosophy at the same college.

Kim attended Muscatine High School, where he was the valedictorian, president of his class, and played quarterback for the school’s football team. In 1982, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University.

Kim is married to Younsook Lim, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Boston. They have two sons.

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Dartmouth students have apologized for writing a tongue-in-cheek news report full of racial slurs directed at the school’s next president, who will be the first Asian American to lead an Ivy League school.

The e-mail was sent on March 3, a day after the college announced that Dr. Jim Yong Kim would become its president in July. The e-mail referred to Kim as a “Chinaman” and warned the campus to prepare for “Asianification.”

Kim, who heads the Global Health and Social Medicine Department at Harvard Medical School, was born in South Korea and grew up in Iowa.

The e-mail said: “On July 1, yet another hard-working American’s job will be ta-ken by an immigrant willing to work in substandard conditions at near-subsistent wage, saving half his money and sending the rest home to his village in the form of traveler’s checks. Unless ‘Jim Young Kim’ means ‘I love Freedom’ in Chinese, I don’t want anything to do with him. Dartmouth is America, not Panda Garden Rice Village Restaurant.”

The e-mail was sent to about 1,000 students and alumni from the Generic Good Morning Message, a daily news report. It is not an official college organization and receives no support from the school.

Kim responded with an e-mail to all Dartmouth students.

He said he was concerned that the “unfortunate e-mail” would undermine Dartmouth’s work to build a diverse and inclusive campus “that cherishes free speech, but also nurtures mutual respect and civility.”

In an e-mail sent to everyone who received the original report, the report’s staff apologized.

“The writer is full of regret, did not intend to offend anyone, and has committed to meeting with others, from diverse backgrounds, to learn as many lessons as possible from this experience,” the note said.

President James Wright called the e-mail an offensive attempt at humor.

“This does not represent the mood that we share and it will not deter us from our plans to warmly welcome Dr. Kim and his family to this open and gracious community,” he said in a statement. (end)

Stacy Nguyen contributed to this report.


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