Betting on UB

PhD alumnus makes $1 million gift 

Alumni Close-Up: E. Han Kim

By Mary Cochrane

E. Han Kim.

Choosing a PhD program decades ago, E. Han Kim, PhD ’75, took a risk that paid off. Which is why he is giving back — a $1 million gift — to the place he bet on: the University at Buffalo School of Management.

After earning an MBA, Kim went on to pursue a PhD in finance. Wooed by Columbia University and New York University — each offered him stipends — he selected Buffalo for several reasons.

“I chose UB because when I visited Buffalo to check out the university, I felt most comfortable there,” says Kim, the Everett E. Berg Professor in Business Administration at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “They treated me very well.”

He had a positive experience pursuing his PhD at the School of Management and never forgot the people who helped him along the way. In particular, he remembers his mentor, Frank Jen, professor emeritus in finance, who pioneered the school’s executive education program in Dalian, China, which the Chinese Ministry of Education called “the best foreign degree program in management in China.”

Kim taught with Jen in China, and the experience motivated him to practice what he was teaching and researching. Before long, he was invited to sit on the board of directors at a local bank in Michigan, then on a number of other boards of large firms in Korea and the U.S., including Korea Telecom as non-executive chair.

“After I got my degree, everything went so well. My first job was at Ohio State. Then the University of Michigan recruited me with an attractive offer, and I became an endowed chair professor here soon thereafter,” Kim says. “I feel I owe a lot of my success to the University at Buffalo.”

Kim’s gift will create an endowment to fund stipends, scholarships and financial offers to attract and help develop the best finance faculty members and doctoral students to UB.

“I want to do my share to help the PhD program in finance in the School of Management,” Kim says. “UB has a very strong finance faculty and good PhD program. With this gift, I want to make it stronger.”

Kim also made an earlier gift after he and several finance graduates presented a seminar to UB graduate finance students. Kim recalled one of the group members suggesting they make a group donation to the school, and they all agreed.

“We all felt that we owed it to UB for the good experience we had there, which launched our careers. We felt because we were treated well that we needed to give back,” he says.

He recommends that his fellow alumni do the same.

“It made me feel so good,” he says, with a laugh. “They will not experience the joy unless they try it.”

Kim’s gift comes at a pivotal time, as UB recently launched its Boldly Buffalo campaign, which seeks to raise $650 million to deliver transformative changes to UB, the Western New York region and the world. Gifts like Kim’s will fund student scholarships and experiential learning opportunities, faculty research and endowed chair positions, and building and facilities upgrades.