Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jim Kim Goes to Dartmouth

Like others in the global health community, I was surprised to learn Jim Kim is going to be the new president of Dartmouth College. But now an email exchange Jim and I had back in January makes more sense. I was reading it as his thinking through the pros and cons of taking a position in the Obama Administration, if asked. I should have read it as an indication that he was even considering leaving Harvard at all.

Kim clearly sees this as a chance to broaden the reach and influence of the global health movement. He told Tamar Lewin of the New York Times, ". . . what I want to do is train an army of leaders to engage with the problems of the world, who will believe the possibilities are limitless, that there’s nothing they can’t do. Being the president of an Ivy League university is an amazing opportunity.” Kim reiterated that view in his first address to Dartmouth.

But as Alanna Shaikh points out, there is a lot about being a college president that has nothing to do with energizing global movements--especially in an era of global financial turmoil and falling endowments.

Speculation alert: You also have to wonder if the Harvard School of Public Health had become too crowded for Kim--now that it has a new dean, Julio Frenck, the very impressive former health minister of Mexico and a onetime candidate to head the World Health Organization. Was the deanship a position Kim had wanted for himself?

Wonder now what will become of Kim's partnership with Michael Porter at the Harvard Business School. Kim was very enthusiastic about applying some of the tools that business has developed to the challenges of implementation in global health.

Nothing yet about the new appointment on the Partners in Health website. Had to smile at the way Lewin described Kim's career as having been "entwined" with that of Paul Farmer. It has been an incredibly productive partnership with twinges of sibling rivalry at times.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see whether Jim Kim turns the presidency of Dartmouth into a bully pulpit for global health.


thdblog.wordpress.com said...

I agree with you - I am very curious to see what impact Kim will have in terms of spreading the global health message while leading Dartmouth. Do you know of any insider reaction at the school among their global health folks?

Christine Gorman said...

Not so far. Will let you know.

Anonymous said...

Mistake One:
Frenck was offered the Deanship of Columbia's School of Public Health and turned it down. Could have had a great partnership with Jeffrey Sachs.
Mistake Two: Kim at Dartmouth. Like Gorden Gee at Brown, shall we say not a match made in heaven? The Big Green will not become the Big Pink in my lifetime, much as it would be a positive change.

Christine Gorman said...

Had not heard the rumor that Frenck turned down a position at Columbia.

Seems like an item for "Global Health Gossip" Hmm. Wonder if anyone would pay for a subscription to that!