Jim Yong Kim to Be Named to World Bank Post


WASHINGTON—The Obama administration on Friday will nominate Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank, choosing a global-health expert to head the development institution.

Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College (Photo Bloomberg News)

Dr. Kim, an American physician who was born in South Korea and raised in Iowa, is a surprise pick for a job that has usually been held by people with political or banking experience.

President Barack Obama planned to make the announcement Friday morning ahead of a trip to South Korea.

Dr. Kim, who became Dartmouth’s president in July 2009, is a former director of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organization. He holds a medical degree and a doctorate in anthropology, both from Harvard University.

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Other candidates for the World Bank job include Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former top World Bank official whose nomination was announced Friday, and Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent development economist at Columbia University who launched his own campaign for the job and has won endorsements from some smaller developing nations.

But the White House’s pick is nearly certain to become the next World Bank president after its current leader, Robert Zoellick, steps down as planned in late June after a five-year term.

The White House has picked the World Bank president since it was created in 1944, in an informal agreement with European nations, who pick the head of the International Monetary Fund.

The combined shares of U.S. and European nations in each organization make it nearly impossible for a candidate from other nationalities to break the unwritten compact.

Since joining Dartmouth, Dr. Kim interacted with the Obama administration on several occasions.

In June 2011 he called Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “one of the great sons of Dartmouth” when he introduced the alumnus as part of a lecture series. In October, Dr. Kim attended the White House state dinner for South Korean president Lee Myung-bak. During his visit, he met with Mr. Geithner again and was seated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Dartmouth’s website.

Dr. Kim was known for wearing a green tie every day since becoming president of the school in 2009. He is the first physician to ever serve as head of the school.

—Gerald F. Seib, David Wessel and Damian Paletta contributed to this article.

Source: The Wall Street Journal