WASHINGTON - Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, has been chosen to be the next president of the World Bank. His selection extends the US hold on the top job at the 187-nation development agency.
Kim, a surprise nominee of President Obama, was selected Monday in a vote by the World Bank’s 25-member executive board. He will succeed Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down after a five-year term.
Developing nations waged an unsuccessful challenge to Kim, 52, a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world.
Kim’s selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who were typically political, legal, or economic figures. The World Bank raises money from its member nations and borrows from investors to provide low-cost loans to developing countries.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praised the selection, saying Kim “has a lifetime of experience solving complex problems.’’ He said Kim “will help breathe new life into the World Bank’s efforts’’ to promote economic growth around the world.
Developing countries had put forward two candidates for the post: Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo. Both argued that it was time to break the hold the United States has had on the World Bank job and provide a greater voice for developing nations. On Friday, Ocampo announced that he was withdrawing and throwing his support to Okonjo-Iweala.
The World Bank didn’t reveal the board’s vote. But it said “the final nominees received support from different member countries,’’ indicating that Kim’s selection was not unanimous.
Oxfam, the global antipoverty group, complained that the process was tainted by the fact that an American candidate was again selected in a closed process. For nearly seven decades, the World Bank has been led by an American, while the International Monetary Fund has always been led by a European.
Kim issued a statement accepting the job from Lima, his last stop on a global tour that has taken him to Africa, Asia, and Latin America to seek support from developing countries. He praised his two opponents from developing countries and said his goal as president would be to “seek a new alignment of the World Bank with a rapidly changing world.’’
Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees is expected to name an interim president Tuesday. Rumors on campus have focused heavily on Marye Anne Fox, 64, who recently stepped down as chancellor of the University of California, San Diego. Fox joined the trustees last June and earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the school in 1974.
Kim will begin a five-year term in July. He has been president of Dartmouth College since 2009.