Penn receives momentous gift to support Korean studies, neurovascular surgery, and the Wharton School 

James Kim.
Penn alum James Joo-Jin Kim.

The University of Pennsylvania today announced a $25 million gift from James Joo-Jin Kim and Agnes Kim, and the James and Agnes Kim Family Foundation, supporting a range of initiatives at Penn. The largest portion of the multifaceted commitment will create the James Joo-Jin Kim Center for Korean Studies in the School of Arts & Sciences.

The gift also creates the Kim Family Neurovascular Surgery Program at Penn Medicine and the Kim Korean Studies Fund at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management & International Studies, with additional support for the Dean’s Discretionary Fund at the Wharton School.

“James Joo-Jin Kim is an unwavering friend of Penn and a true University citizen,” says Penn Interim President Wendell Pritchett. “I am thrilled to thank the Kim family for this momentous commitment, which exemplifies Jim’s legacy as an unparalleled champion of Korean studies at Penn while offering crucial support for the Wharton School and helping to build a premier program in the vital medical field of neurovascular surgery.”

“It is with great pride that our family gives this gift to the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine,” says James Kim. “As a young immigrant arriving to the United States from Korea, the University provided me with a world-class education while instilling in me an unwavering work ethic. The knowledge and character I gained at Penn helped to pave the road to my success, and I hope this gift helps to pave that road for others.”

The James Joo-Jin Kim Center for Korean Studies

Building on his longstanding support, James Joo-Jin Kim endowed the James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies at Penn Arts & Sciences in 2011, putting Penn in the top echelon of universities offering programs in Korean studies. This new commitment will establish an academic center that will provide long-term support for academic and community-focused activities.

“The newly created James Joo-Jin Kim Center for Korean Studies will advance the study of Korea and its expanding role in the world and will elevate Korean Studies at Penn and cement its prominence with our academic peers and in the larger community,” says Steven J. Fluharty, Dean of the Penn Arts & Sciences and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor. “Through this generous gift, we are well positioned to support excellence among our current faculty, recruit top Korean studies scholars in the future, expand opportunities for students interested in the study of Korea, and make significant contributions to the field in perpetuity.”

“The popularity of Korean music, movies, and television shows has grown global interest in Korean culture and society, providing a unique opportunity for advancing transformative Korean studies,” says Hyunjoon Park, Korea Foundation Professor of Sociology and Director of the James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies. “The establishment of the Kim Center will magnify interdisciplinary teaching and research that integrate social scientific and humanistic approaches and embrace comparative perspectives that connect Korea to broad global communities in addressing worldwide challenges such as inequality, climate change, migration, and pandemics.”

In addition to expanding the Center’s existing physical space on campus, the Kim family’s gift will endow a professorship, launch a global conference on Korea, create fellowship opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, and sponsor a global forum that will connect Kim Center scholars with Korean alumni and parents.

“We will devote considerable energy and concerted efforts to collaborate with local communities in Philadelphia. One new project, ‘Koreans in Philadelphia,’ will involve research and cultural events to highlight the legacies and achievements of the Korean-American community in the region,” says Park. “We also hope to work closely with local public K-12 schools to develop curricula and cultural awareness of contemporary and historical Korea. We are excited about all of the great opportunities arising thanks to the Kim family.”

“Continued investment in the field of Korean Studies through the creation of the Kim Center, in conjunction with programs at the Lauder Institute and the Wharton School, is critical in solidifying the relevance of Korean studies at the University and beyond,” says Kim, “We look forward to the positive impact the Kim Center will have both on and off campus.”

The Kim Family Neurovascular Surgery Program at Penn Medicine

The Kim family’s gift will also launch the Kim Family Neurovascular Surgery Program at Penn Medicine. This funding will allow the Department of Neurosurgery to establish a comprehensive platform for the development of new technologies for treating neurovascular disorders—including strokes, brain hemorrhages, aneurysms, and cerebral vascular malformations—from initial design to translation into patient care. The program will ultimately improve the lives of patients with these life-altering medical conditions.

“We are tremendously fortunate to have visionary donors like James Joo-Jin Kim and his family, and the establishment of the Kim Family Neurovascular Surgery Program is a powerful demonstration of their commitment to advancing health care,” says J. Larry Jameson, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “With the leadership of Dr. Daniel Yoshor and the department’s brilliant faculty, the Kim Family Program promises to make Penn Medicine a national destination for neurovascular treatment.”

The Kim Family Program will include a neurovascular innovation lab that will develop novel technologies to treat disorders involving the blood vessels in the brain, as well as approaches for preserving or restoring neurological function that is lost after stroke or brain hemorrhage. Designed to leverage Penn’s expertise in neurosciences, engineering, robotics, nanotechnology, and cellular and molecular biology, the program will provide funding for research with the aim of preventing or lessening the consequences of neurovascular disorders and improving patients’ quality of life. Moreover, this gift will secure an endowed professorship in cerebrovascular surgery, ensuring that Penn Medicine can recruit and retain top talent and expand its impact on health care regionally, nationally, and globally.

“I am so grateful to Jim, Agnes, and Susan Kim for their vision and generosity,” says Daniel Yoshor, the Charles Harrison Frazier Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine. “The new Kim Family Neurovascular Surgery Program will allow us to build upon existing strengths at Penn and create much-needed improvements in outcomes for patients. The Kims truly understand the great power that technology has to improve people’s lives, and I am proud to have them as partners and trusted advisors.”

“We are excited that our gift to Penn Medicine’s Neurovascular Surgery program will enable Penn Medicine to continue to make technological and medical advancements that will improve patients’ quality of life,” says Kim. “The creation of the cerebrovascular surgery professorship will attract top talent, further strengthening this program. We look forward to all the innovative changes coming in the future.”

The Kim Korean Studies Fund at the Lauder Institute and the Wharton Dean’s Discretionary Fund

Another portion of this gift will establish the Kim Korean Studies Fund at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management & International Studies. The Lauder Institute’s innovative M.B.A./M.A. joint-degree program combines a top-ranked business program with intercultural leadership skills, interdisciplinary coursework, language studies, and research.

The Kim Korean Studies Fund enables Lauder to support a growing number of students who wish to take part in three distinctive immersion programs: the Korean Language and Culture Track, the East Asia Regional Immersion, and the Global Knowledge Lab.

“Students develop a global mindset through Lauder’s innovative curriculum, and will do even more thanks to the Kim family’s generous gift,” says Martine Haas, Anthony L. Davis Director of the Lauder Institute and Lauder Chair Professor at the Wharton School. “We are incredibly grateful to have resources to delve into Korean language, culture, history, economics, and politics on campus in Philadelphia, as well as through our unique immersive experiences in Seoul and the East Asia region, which enable Lauder students to gain a deeper understanding of Korea’s importance in East Asia and around the world.”

Finally, Kim’s commitment will support the Wharton Dean’s Discretionary Fund, providing crucial resources Dean Erika James can use to explore new opportunities to enhance academic and co-curricular programming and respond to emerging needs or challenges.

“Jim epitomizes leadership and service, and his contributions to his alma mater have left a lasting impression across Penn’s campus,” says Erika James, Dean of the Wharton School. “His newest gift of discretionary resources is an extension of his trust in the School today and his investment in Wharton’s future, one that allows the School to remain forward-thinking and evolve to meet the needs of students and prepare them for success in a rapidly changing global business environment. I am truly grateful for Jim’s generosity, extending his longstanding history of support, and for his shared belief in our mission and vision for the future.”

James Joo-Jin Kim is Executive Chairman of Amkor Technology, one of the world's largest providers of outsourced (OSAT) semiconductor packaging, design, and test service. Kim graduated from the Wharton School with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1959, earning a master’s degree in economics from Penn Arts & Sciences in 1961. He is an Emeritus Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Lauder Institute Board of Governors, and a former member of the Penn Arts & Sciences Advisory Board and the Wharton Executive Board for Asia. In addition to leadership support for the James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies, his past philanthropy to Penn includes the James Joo-Jin Kim Professorship in Economics at Penn Arts & Sciences, the James Joo-Jin Kim Professorship at the Wharton School, and consistent support for The Penn Fund and The Wharton Fund.