Alumnus Pledges $1 Million to Scholarship Fund

John Kim '87 MBA and his wife Diane have pledged to help underrepresented students attend the UConn School of Business.

John Kim '87 MBA. (UConn Photo)

John Kim '87 MBA and his wife Diane have pledged to help underrepresented students attend the UConn School of Business. (UConn Photo)

John Kim ’87 MBA, a Korean immigrant who earned an MBA from the UConn School of Business and is now the President of New York Life Insurance Co., and his wife Diane have pledged $1 million to a scholarship fund to help underrepresented students from Hartford earn a UConn business degree.

Kim and his family were able to move to the U.S. many years ago because of sponsorship by a host family.

“Their spirit of generosity still drives and inspires me today,” Kim says. “They helped to make it possible for me to study at UConn and then begin my career in insurance and investments in Hartford. For Diane and me, establishing the Kim Family Scholarship Fund weaves it all together, and we hope it will help transform the lives of many students.”

John A. Elliott, the dean of UConn’s School of Business, says Kim has a long record of service to the School of Business and the University, and was inducted into the School’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

“This insightful gift, from an inspirational couple, will help many students from diverse backgrounds who have earned the opportunity for a UConn degree, to embrace that opportunity and not be turned away by financial limitations,” Elliott said.

Prior to Kim giving the graduation address to the School of Business Class of 2016, Elliott spent time with the donor couple, their daughter, and Kim’s parents, and described them as remarkable people.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also expressed gratitude to the Kim family for investing in Hartford students: “This is an incredible opportunity for students in Hartford who have worked hard and have the potential to become leaders in the business world. The gift from the Kims sends a powerful message to Hartford students that people believe in them and are committed to their success.”

Kim is president and chief investment officer at the New York Life Insurance Co., the largest mutual life-insurance company in the United States and one of the largest in the world. He earned his MBA from UConn’s School of Business in 1987 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Kim urged graduating students to “Be a credit to your community. In this ‘me’ world of selfishness and ‘selfies,’ look outward beyond your personal and professional ecosystem, into your town, your country, the world, and humanity in total.”

“John’s speech was more than just a collection of words, it was a call to action,” says Joshua R. Newton, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation, in announcing the gift. “It’s been an honor to work with the Kim family and help them translate their commitment to philanthropy into a gift that will benefit generations of students.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, the student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an undergraduate enrolled in the School of Business;
  • Demonstrate financial need;
  • Be a resident of Hartford.

According to the wishes of Mr. and Mrs. Kim, priority consideration will be given to students who have overcome obstacles such as socioeconomic or educational disadvantages, or are members of groups that are underrepresented at UConn. Recipients of the scholarship will be known as Kim Family Scholars.

The Kim Family Scholarship Fund is the latest addition to the Foundation’s $150 million Transform Lives scholarship initiative – which was publicly launched in January 2015. Thanks to the Kim Family’s donation, the Foundation has surged past the one-third completion mark for the initiative and is now approaching $60 million raised for scholarships and student support.