Advancement & Public Services

Hei Chu and Hyung Ja Kim Piano Scholarship

KimMrs. Hyung Ja Kim and her family have endowed the Hei Chu and Hyung Ja Kim Piano Scholarship to support graduate and undergraduate piano study at Western Illinois University.

“The scholarship is intended to honor my late husband, Hei Chu Kim, and to financially assist international piano students,” said Mrs. Kim.

Hei Chu Kim was born in Korea in 1931 and served in the Republic of Korea Army for nine years. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1961, his Master of Arts in Sociology at the Graduate Division of Queens College in the City University of New York in 1964, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the New School for Social Research in New York City in 1973. Dr. Hei Chu Kim joined the Department of Sociology at Western in 1968 and taught until his death in 1978.  

Dr. Kim had a deep appreciation and love of classical music, which influenced two of his three sons. Violinist Benny Kim and cellist Eric Kim are professional musicians; both made their solo debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as teenagers. Andy Kim is Assistant to the Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan State University.

“My husband was a wonderful father and encouraged the boys in their music,” said Hyung Ja. “He sacrificed for the boys’ music; made sure they had the time required for practice and quality instruments to play. We would like to honor him by helping others in his memory.”

The Hei Chu and Hyung Ja Kim Piano Scholarship will be awarded to an international graduate or undergraduate student who demonstrates outstanding piano performance and/or outstanding skills as an accompanist. “International students have extra expenses and I would like to help with that,” said Mrs. Kim. “I also hope the scholarship will encourage international students to attend Western.”

“I have established this scholarship first for my husband, because he was so special,” explained Mrs. Kim. “Secondly, I would like to show my appreciation for the Music Department, the University, the community and the Presbyterian Church, which were all very supportive of my family. I am very thankful and would like to show my gratitude with this scholarship.”

“It was a privilege to be Hyung Ja Kim’s piano colleague for her final 8 years of teaching before retirement,” said WIU piano professor Tammie Walker. “Her devotion to her students is limitless, and her legacy will live on with this scholarship which will be awarded to some of the brightest and talented piano students.  The piano area is very grateful to Professor Kim for her generosity and commitment to the piano students at Western Illinois University.”