Last year, World Bank President Bob Zoellick spoke to my class at Tuck. He has since resigned the post. This morning, President Obama announced Dartmouth College President Dr Jim Yong Kim as his nominee to succeed Zoellick. Historically, the EU nominee has been appointed for the IMF job, and the US appointee for the World Bank job. So, it looks like the gig will be his. The Dartmouth community today received an email from Jim Kim saying that he has decided to take the job if he gets it.
There has been a lot of talk around campus, as you might expect. Here are a few interesting snippets I've heard throughout the day:
- From a fellow T'12: "I'd back him anyway, as it's great that someone from Dartmouth has been nominated, but I'm especially pleased to be able to give my support feeling like I know the guy a bit and enormously respect him. He is impressively humble and human, especially for someone in his position and with his achievements."
- From a professor: "Wow. Exclamation mark."
- From another classmate: "It has been said that when he accepted the job of Dartmouth College President in 2009, he had also been offered the role of WHO President at the same time. But the World Bank is a much bigger job, as it not only tracks data, it has massive, direct impact on the world."
From my own perspective, I have found Jim Kim to be an inspirational figure at Dartmouth. I went to see a talk with him shortly before starting at Tuck and found his discussion of 16 Habits of the Mind genuinely moved the way I think about myself and the world. I think the video is definitely worth watching. During his tenure, he has often quoted Dartmouth's 12th president John Sloan Dickey in saying that, "The world's troubles are your troubles and there is nothing wrong in the world that better human beings cannot fix." This man, who moved to Iowa from Korea at the age of five, told the audience a great story about his father. On a trip home from Brown during his sophomore year, he told his father he wanted to become an anthropologist and his father responded something to the effect of (recounted in similarly stark language): "You can become whatever you like as soon as you have your MD. In the eyes of Americans you are a Chinaman and you are kidding yourself if you think this country owes you anything. You had better get yourself some tangible, useful skills to contribute to society." He became an MD, then got his PhD in Anthropology, then did all the marvelous things you can read about in public media.
As much as the appointment is a huge loss to Dartmouth, I believe it's also great for the institution's profile and I'm proud to be associated with Dartmouth on this day. I have little doubt and high hopes that he will do a great job at the helm of the World Bank. Good luck, President Kim - and thanks for your service to Dartmouth!
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