Faculty show approval for choice
By Amanda Young
Published on Thursday, March 29, 2012
Faculty members interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed generally positive views of College President Jim Yong Kim’s nomination for the World Bank presidency as well as the work Kim has done during his three years at Dartmouth. Many professors expressed disappointment, however, that Kim’s vision for the College, which requires many years to implement, may not be achieved if his nomination is confirmed.
“There is a wide range of opinions,” Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael Mastanduno said. “That being said, a lot of faculty appreciated that Kim is very inspirational, has high standards and high goals and truly wanted to find ways to make Dartmouth a better place.”
Women and gender studies professor and WGST program chair Annabel Martin said that Kim’s possible departure from Dartmouth is “bittersweet.”
“I’m proud and honored that he should be called to such a high-ranking and influential job where he can touch the lives of people across the world, but at the same time, the things he had in our community will have to move on to new hands,” she said.
Still, a professor who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject said that Kim never had a chance to join the community.
“His defect in the two and a half years here was he never fully arrived and joined the Dartmouth community,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a disappointment. Everyone was excited about him and he never fully arrived.”
Faculty members said they believed that Kim successfully handled reducing the $100-million budget deficit projected in September 2009.
“I think he handled the budget situation just about perfectly,” English professor Thomas Luxon, director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, said. “I can’t believe he learned as much about it as he did in such a short time.”
Kim’s position as a recently appointed campus leader aided him in resolving the budget crisis, sociology professor Kathryn Lively said.
“Him coming in with an outsider perspective allowed him to be very judicious and make some difficult decisions that let the university get back on track in a poor economy,” Lively said.
Kim’s success in resolving the budget crisis bodes well for his tenure as World Bank president if his nomination is confirmed, Luxon said. He added that Kim did not handle other problems that arose during his tenure as well.
“Other issues he was less well-attuned to, such as the issues of hazing, understanding student culture and meeting students where they are,” Luxon said.
Many professors said they could not predict whether Kim’s strategic planning initiatives will be successful because they require more time to be realized.
“We won’t be able to see whether or not his most substantive jobs would be a success unless the next president is committed to the same goals,” Lively said. “Five years from now, chances are we’d have a better understanding about whether that vision was good for Dartmouth.”
Tuck professor Aine Donovan, director of the Ethics Institute, said Kim’s goals regarding health care delivery and making Dartmouth more global require “at least a decade of hard work” to implement.
Anthropology professor James Igoe said that Kim has “a 20-year vision at least” with his goal of combining the skill and ability to negotiate complex problems learned in a liberal arts institution with the commitment to solve these issues.
Lively said Kim’s nomination to the World Bank provided positive international media coverage for the College.
“Dartmouth has so long been associated with the Wall Street fiasco and considered a feeder to Goldman Sachs, so I think this is a breath of fresh air,” she said.
Many professors said they were initially surprised by Kim’s nomination to the World Bank.
“I had assumed it would be an economist,” Donovan said.
While economics professor Bruce Sacerdote said he had not predicted the nomination, he said it made sense in hindsight because of the goals of the World Bank and its leadership needs.
Some faculty said that Kim will be able to overcome any gaps in experience by building a strong team of advisers.
“The World Bank is really looking beyond finance to remedying issues of poverty and disease,” Donovan said.
Igoe said he was not surprised by Kim’s nomination to a prestigious position in global development due to his stature in the field.
“He has a particular kind of social vision that has to do with health care delivery and equality,” Igoe said. “He seems to me like someone the Obama administration would be very interested in.”
Some professors said that Kim’s potential exit from Dartmouth would not affect the majority of people on campus.
“I don’t worry that the institution now has to wait for the next president in order to keep the good momentum it has going forward,” Mastanduno said.
The professor who asked to remain anonymous also said that the College has momentum going forward.
“His single achievement was putting the College on a strong financial footing,” he said. “He has laid the foundation for the next president to hit the ground running. That’s his achievement. That’s all he achieved.”