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Alumni honor late father through major gift to Binghamton

Charles M. Kim, right, with his wife, mother, brother and children.
Charles M. Kim '98, right, with his wife, Jean Su Maeng-Kim; mother, Sook Hee Kim; brother, James W. Kim '99; and children. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

The Young Sam Kim Korean Student Center in Old Champlain Hall was officially dedicated in a November ceremony, at which Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger thanked Charles M. Kim ’98; Kim's wife, Jean Su Maeng-Kim; and Kim’s brother, James W. Kim ’99 for their gift that made the center possible.

“I’ve been talking about Binghamton’s mission to transform lives for our students and this will be a transformation to celebrate [the Kims’] history and culture in this space,” Stenger said. “It’s a legacy they have handed down, starting with their scholarship recipients from Korea and St. Thomas — more than a dozen students have been fully funded.”

Stenger praised Charles Kim for helping to raise funds for hurricane relief in the U.S. Virgin Islands and for his support of the School of Management by funding finance curriculum initiatives and the Bloomberg terminal. “When you talk to Charles, he exudes love for Binghamton University, and at his relatively young age, is able to give back.

“Our students work tremendously hard, but they also need time to connect and relax with friends and that’s what this center will do,” Stenger said. “This space will be available to students of Korean descent and others as well, and provide a place where students will burn a lot of energy.”

“We’re here today because of the prominent role Binghamton has played in my life and those of other Korean-American students,” said Charles Kim, managing partner of Alpine Group USVI, as he explained why he supported the center named after his late father.

Kim's father fought in the Korean War before he and his wife immigrated to the United States; he then became a Marine and fought in the Vietnam War. "He followed his ambition with $175 in his pocket when he came to the U.S. to study, and was one of the first Korean Americans to earn a broker’s license and start his own firm. I admired his ability to endure and excel under these circumstances.

“He used to say that success goes not to the lucky, but to the determined,” Charles Kim added. “He taught me the importance of developing meaningful relationships and it’s a combination of the two that brings us here. I hope this center will foster relationships while enriching the student experience so students can create new friendships and tighten ones they already have.”

Kim’s vision for the center is that students will bounce ideas o of each other and learn that even failures are learning opportunities. “Utilize this center as an intellectual and creative garden,” he said. “Like a garden, you are all seeds and won’t grow by yourselves. It’s an honor for me to open this garden today.”