President Profile


Profile of Dr. Kao Kim Hourn

As the Founder, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and President of The University of Cambodia, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn has dedicated his life to developing the Kingdom of Cambodia through multiple capacities, namely education, politics, and business. He is also currently the Minister Delegate Attached to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia in charge of foreign affairs and ASEAN, a member of the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC), a member of the Board of Directors for the Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), and Co-Founder of Southeast Asia Radio and Television (SEATV). Previously, from 2003 to 2013, he was Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Advisor to the Prime Minister of The Kingdom of Cambodia. He was also a member of the High Level Task Force on the ASEAN Charter.

Dr. Kao Kim Hourn was born in Kampong Cham province in Cambodia and lived there with his father, mother and siblings until the Khmer Rouge regime came to power. His father was a schoolteacher, so his family was forced to relocate to another province and take up the life of rice farmers in an attempt to conceal the truth of his former career and avoid capture or death during the purging of intellectuals in Cambodia. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, his family spent time in refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border before receiving permission to move to the United States in the early 1980s.

Dr. Kao Kim Hourn arrived in Oakland, California and quickly moved to Texas to join friends who were living there already. Sadly, his father suddenly passed away just after their move to Texas. The loss of their father led his family to relocate once again to Herndon, Virginia where he restarted his education and enrolled in high school at the age of 16. He completed high school in three years with scholastic excellence, despite having a fractured education throughout his life and no formal English instruction. After his high school graduation, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn attended Baylor University where he received a BA in Asian Studies. He then went on to attend Ohio University on a National Fellowship Scholarship where he earned dual Master’s degrees in Political Science and International Studies. He completed his formal education by obtaining a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, while simultaneously traveling to and working in Cambodia. Since then, he has received honorary doctorate degrees from Ohio University and Kalinga Institute for Industrial Technology (KIIT University) in Public Service and Literature, respectively.

Upon returning to Cambodia in the mid-1990s, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn became the Director of the Khmer International Relations Institute under the Preah-Sihanouk Raj Academy. However, he quickly moved to work on an important think-tank, the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. He helped to build the think-tank into a key source for policy recommendations in the chaotic time of rebuilding the broken nation after the destruction of the Khmer Rouge Regime and the ensuing civil war that followed.

In 1999, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn played an important role in negotiating Cambodia’s entry to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and published many books on ASEAN and Cambodian-ASEAN relations. He subsequently began working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he remained, under various titles including Secretary of State, until 2013, when he moved to the cabinet of the Prime Minister where he currently holds the position of Minister Delegate Attached to the Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs and ASEAN.

In 2003, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn founded The University of Cambodia, a leading higher education institute that offers Associate's, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree programs through its twelve colleges and schools. With an enrollment of over 4,000 students, The University of Cambodia is accredited by the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia, and is a member of the Cambodian Higher Education Association.

From October 2016 to May 2017, he served as the vice chairman of Cambodia's Inter-Ministerial Committee for the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2017. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia and is also a Member of the Global Council of The Asia Society. In 2018, he was appointed to serve on the Board of the Cambodian Higher Education Association (CHEA) as both the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Dissemination Affairs Committee. In September 2018, he was reappointed for a second term as Minister Delegate Attached to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia in charge of Foreign Affairs and ASEAN, from 2018-2023.

Currently, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with his wife and two children. 

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