Generous Endowment Attracts Exceptional Faculty to L&S

Recruiting remarkable faculty has long been a top priority for UW–Madison. Through the generosity of David ’60 and Marion Meissner, the UW Department of History received a transformational endowment — the William Appleman Williams & David G. and Marion S. Meissner Chair in U.S., International, and Diplomatic History. Williams was an influential professor of U.S. foreign relations at the UW from 1957 to 1968 and had a profound impact on David when he was a student. In 2020, this endowed chair created an opportunity to recruit a rising star — renowned historian, educator, and researcher Monica Kim.

“Monica is a remarkable scholar whose work beautifully sheds light on our human experience,” shares College of Letters & Science dean Eric Wilcots. “We are proud to have her as a friend and colleague.”

Associate Professor Kim earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her doctorate from the University of Michigan. She is an award-winning author whose specialized approach is focused on uncovering new insights into U.S. foreign policy during and after the Korean War. And she is deeply engaged in her work and in her department, providing dynamic and challenging courses.

“I understood that my parents emigrated to this country because of the war on the Korean Peninsula,” Kim says. “Yet at school, growing up, it was completely absent from textbooks or discussions. I want to do a bottom-up history of the Korean War — not from the vantage points of heads of state and military leaders, but from those of ordinary people like soldiers or farmers, like my family members were.”

Generous donors like the Meissners are shaping and improving the future of the university. Endowed faculty positions attract the best and brightest educators for UW students, and Kim is a perfect illustration of that impact. The Meissners’ endowment may also help in advancing and sustaining a hub or a lab on campus where discussions between activists, scholars, and journalists explore different ways of studying geopolitics.

In 2022, Kim was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” for her exceptional creativity and promise. The fellowship, which is one of the most coveted honors in academia, offers her the potential to advance her work.

“I’m delighted for Professor Monica Kim, who exemplifies the excellence of our faculty and joins a proud tradition of UW winners of this storied award,” said Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. “It’s so wonderful to see Kim’s groundbreaking, innovative scholarship recognized in this important way, and we’re grateful to count her among the university’s brilliant and creative thinkers on topics across the spectrum of knowledge.”