Friday’s announcement by President Obama that his nominee for president of the World Bank would be Dartmouth College’s President Jim Yong Kim (photo) was a surprise, for a number of reasons.
First, Kim has little experience in or obvious connections with the usual coterie of bankers, insiders and political cronies that have served at the World Bank in the past. His expertise instead is in running Partners In Health (PIH), a highly regarded and effective enterprise in providing medical care to the poor around the world, including treatment for AIDS and tuberculosis.
Second, he has a successful track record in fund raising for PIH and for Dartmouth. Thirdly, he is bright, unassuming and winsome. Finally, he solves a number of problems faced by the president in making his selection.
Kim was one of twelve names offered to the president including his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who expressed her interest in the position immediately after Robert Zoellick announced he would retire from the position in June. Also on the list were well-known politicos with lots of baggage, including Senator John Kerry, current UN ambassador Susan Rice, and Lawrence Summers, former head of the president’s National Economic Council. And Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, was also lobbying for the position.
The president also faced growing resistance from other World Bank members over the rule that only an American could head up the bank, established in 1944 at Bretton Woods.
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