ANSWERING THE CALL

 

 

 

 

ANSWERING THE CALL

Kim B. Clark appointed new president of  BYU–Idaho

 

By Marc Stevens

 

 

“He is a man of tremendous integrity who is deeply respected and admired. His colleagues describe him as humble, thoughtful, measured, spontaneous, and true to his convictions.”

            With those words President Gordon B. Hinckley introduced the students and faculty of Brigham Young University–Idaho to their newly appointed president, Dr. Kim B. Clark, then-dean of the Harvard Business School.

            “I am deeply honored to have been chosen for this important role,” President Clark said during the June 6 announcement, broadcast by satellite from Boston and Salt Lake City to Rexburg. “I am tremendously excited to be joining BYU–Idaho, and I look forward to working with everyone in the community in facing the opportunities that lie ahead.”

            Those opportunities had presented themselves just two weeks before when President Hinckley asked Clark if he would be interested in presiding over BYU–Idaho. The position had become vacant several months before when President David A. Bednar was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

            While at Harvard, President Clark had kept a close eye on BYU–Idaho’s transition from Ricks College, and he found himself intrigued by the groundbreaking work being done at the university. That interest, combined with the crossroads his career at Harvard had reached, made the decision easy. “I thought both professionally and spiritually, and for our family, this would be a wonderful opportunity,” President Clark said. “And so I said I would be interested. And I meant it.”

            From there, say President Clark and his wife Sue, the blessings began to flow. His years of academic and spiritual training began bearing new fruit in preparation for the assignment of a lifetime. “I think there’s some kind of orientation program for new presidents run by heaven,” President Clark said. “There has to be. There’s a group up there probably associated with the university in various ways who are responsible for orienting a new president.”

            President Clark’s preparation began very early on. He is the oldest of three children born to Merlin and Helen Mar Clark. He spent his early childhood in Salt Lake City, and when he was 11 the family moved to Spokane, Washington. The teenaged Kim Clark stayed busy in high school, playing varsity baseball and basketball. He also developed musical talents, playing bass guitar and organ in a band.

            But he found his greatest satisfaction in the classroom. “From the time I was a little boy growing up in Salt Lake City, to this very day, I have loved school,” President Clark said at the BYU–Idaho Devotional the day after his presidency was announced. “I love to learn, to discover new things, and I love to teach. Schools and education have a special place in my heart and, I believe, a special place in the Restoration and in the Kingdom of God.”

            That love of learning led President Clark to Harvard University, where he was accepted as a pre-med major in 1967. He struggled during his freshman year, and as he left on a mission to Germany, he vowed he would not return to Harvard. After finishing his mission, President Clark enrolled at Brigham Young University for his sophomore year, where he flourished. “I loved my year at BYU so much,” he recalled. “I had such great teachers and, of course, I met Sue.”

            Sue Hunt was a young lady from the tiny town of Waterflow, New Mexico, and one of the “sisters” in President Clark’s family home evening group at BYU. They made Sunday dinner together one evening and have been together ever since. President Clark married Sue—whom he describes as “the love of my life” — in 1971, eventually bringing seven children into the world.

            With married life just getting under way, President Clark decided to give Harvard another chance. He returned to Boston, changed his major to economics, and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1974. A master’s degree followed in 1977 and a doctorate in 1978. With a lifelong passion for education that never waned, President Clark joined the faculty of Harvard Business School that year.

            And so began a remarkable teaching and administrative career that would span nearly three decades. President Clark taught at HBS for 27 years including 10 years as dean. He pushed initiatives to strengthen the school’s research and educational programs and to improve its campus. Faculty grew by 20 percent under President Clark’s leadership, and he succeeded in raising the HBS endowment from $550 million to nearly

$2 billion. He authored several books and papers on topics such as technology, productivity, and product development.

            But perhaps the most high-profile achievement of his administration came just last year, when he took a firm stance against the scandals at major corporations like Enron and WorldCom by introducing mandatory ethics classes for HBS students. “We learned that it is not enough to have high standards; it’s not enough even to teach about the importance of and create awareness in the students about the issues,” President Clark said. “You have to equip students with frameworks, concepts and tools that allow them to take fairly complicated situations, break them down, and understand what is at stake.” He believes ethical behavior is simply a matter of living correct principles and says the idea holds true everywhere, from the boardrooms of corporate America, to the Harvard Business School, to BYU–Idaho. “Apply your values and principles in an effective way to come to a good resolution of the issue,” he said.

            President Clark’s push for ethical training at HBS would become something of a punctuation mark on his tenure there because several months later the call to leave Harvard and assume the presidency of BYU–Idaho came. He admits it was a bittersweet decision. “I think I was part of one of the very finest institutions in the world,” he said. “Harvard Business School is a remarkable institution, extraordinarily well run by great people.” But President Clark also knew the time had come to move on. “It’s not easy to leave, but ten years is about the right time for deans to serve,” he said on the day of his announcement as president. “So when this opportunity to become president of BYU–Idaho came, I felt that the time was right.”

            But word of President Clark’s decision to leave Harvard sent a shock wave through many parts of the academic and business communities. Leaders of universities and corporations alike were left scratching their heads. How could anyone walk away from such a prestigious post—without hesitation—to lead a new and relatively unknown university in rural Idaho? It defied conventional wisdom. But President Clark was unfazed by the dropping jaws and puzzled looks.

            “I expected some people to be completely baffled and shocked that I would go to BYU–Idaho,” he said. “It’s the reaction I would have had five years ago. It doesn’t make any sense because the world is organized around a set of ideas about progression, careers, and what people do.”

            But like all Church universities, BYU–Idaho does not follow the world’s pattern. Its course is charted by a higher authority, and President Clark knows exactly where the call to trade Boston for Rexburg came from. “He didn’t gloss over any of the reasons why he came to BYU–Idaho,” Sister Clark said, referring to his final State of the School address at Harvard. “He told about getting the call from President Hinckley and that in our church we hold him to be the prophet of God—and when the prophet calls, you go.”

            “I wanted people to really know what we are doing and what this place is really about,” President Clark said, “and I don’t think we have to apologize to anybody.” His eagerness to answer the call to lead BYU–Idaho has even developed into something of a missionary tool. “Many people have told me others are now talking to them about the Church, about why this happened,” President Clark said. “It’s been a really positive thing.”

            President and Sister Clark also have no reservations about leaving Boston, their home of 34 years, to come to Rexburg. “We did find many wonderful people there, in and out of the Church,” President Clark said of Boston. “We liked living there and partook of different aspects of it.” But after so many years of big city life, Rexburg appears to be a good fit for the Clarks. “It’s just been terrific to be here,” President Clark said, crediting his and Sister Clark’s Western roots for the easy transition. “I was born out here, so it doesn’t feel foreign to us at all. It feels very comfortable and very familiar. The people are so wonderful.”

            President Clark comes to Rexburg with a clear and simple vision for BYU–Idaho; a vision shaped by the direction given to him by Church leaders. “Our job is to make this a great university,” he said, “in the image that the Lord wants it to be.” And not surprisingly, President Clark’s own personal desires for the university he is now responsible for closely mirror the charge from the Brethren.

            “It might sound a little bit like platitude, but it’s true; my fondest, deepest hope for this place is that it will become everything the Lord wants it to be,” President Clark said. “It’s an interesting thing to try to understand what the Lord wants done. Whose will is it? Where do we need to take the university in the grand scheme of things? We’ll try to do His work, and if we do that, this place will be a phenomenon. It’ll be great.”

            The university President Clark inherits is just five years into a sweeping transformation. BYU–Idaho has turned heads over the past few years by quickly and efficiently adding nearly 50 new bachelor’s degree programs and implementing an innovative academic calendar. Several new buildings have been added, and others are being renovated. It’s an enormous task to take on, but President Clark feels comfortable with the pace and progress of the transition from Ricks College and believes BYU–Idaho’s best days are still ahead. “I think the university is really in great shape,” he said. “I think the work that has been done has been excellent and the foundation is strong. I think people can come here in confidence that they will find a place that is on the right track. That’s my assessment of the university.”

            For President Clark being on the right track includes implementing an educational principle he feels very strongly about: understanding how students learn and helping them do it better. “I believe education is a developmental process. It’s not just about imparting knowledge to people; it’s about developing,” President Clark said. “We need to understand how people change and grow so we can do more, be more effective, and create higher quality experiences for the students.” And he believes that involves much more than just what happens inside the classroom. “In this university, it’s about developing the whole person. Developing spiritually, personally, emotionally, socially, intellectually—all aspects of their character,” he said. “That they truly become the kind of disciple the Lord wants them to be.”

            Helping everyone associated with BYU–Idaho become a disciple of Jesus Christ is one of the university’s core missions. And as he begins his administration, President Clark pledges to the alumni of Ricks College and BYU–Idaho that the disciple creation process will start at the top. “I want the alumni to know that I will live my life close to the Spirit and have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost,” he said. “I will always be in perfect alignment with President Hinckley and the Brethren, and I will do everything I can to help this university realize its glorious destiny.”

            A destiny President Clark hopes all Ricks College and BYU–Idaho alumni will be part of and share with others: “When someone asks where they went to school and they say BYU–Idaho, I want people to say ‘that’s great.’ BYU–Idaho will always be a place they will be proud of.”” Those opportunities had presented themselves just two weeks before when President Hinckley asked Clark if he would be interested in presiding over BYU–Idaho. The position had become vacant several months before when President David A. Bednar was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

            While at Harvard, President Clark had kept a close eye on BYU–Idaho’s transition from Ricks College, and he found himself intrigued by the groundbreaking work being done at the university. That interest, combined with the crossroads his career at Harvard had reached, made the decision easy. “I thought both professionally and spiritually, and for our family, this would be a wonderful opportunity,” President Clark said. “And so I said I would be interested. And I meant it.”

            From there, say President Clark and his wife Sue, the blessings began to flow. His years of academic and spiritual training began bearing new fruit in preparation for the assignment of a lifetime. “I think there’s some kind of orientation program for new presidents run by heaven,” President Clark said. “There has to be. There’s a group up there probably associated with the university in various ways who are responsible for orienting a new president.”

            President Clark’s preparation began very early on. He is the oldest of three children born to Merlin and Helen Mar Clark. He spent his early childhood in Salt Lake City, and when he was 11 the family moved to Spokane, Washington. The teenaged Kim Clark stayed busy in high school, playing varsity baseball and basketball. He also developed musical talents, playing bass guitar and organ in a band.

            But he found his greatest satisfaction in the classroom. “From the time I was a little boy growing up in Salt Lake City, to this very day, I have loved school,” President Clark said at the BYU–Idaho Devotional the day after his presidency was announced. “I love to learn, to discover new things, and I love to teach. Schools and education have a special place in my heart and, I believe, a special place in the Restoration and in the Kingdom of God.”

            That love of learning led President Clark to Harvard University, where he was accepted as a pre-med major in 1967. He struggled during his freshman year, and as he left on a mission to Germany, he vowed he would not return to Harvard. After finishing his mission, President Clark enrolled at Brigham Young University for his sophomore year, where he flourished. “I loved my year at BYU so much,” he recalled. “I had such great teachers and, of course, I met Sue.”

            Sue Hunt was a young lady from the tiny town of Waterflow, New Mexico, and one of the “sisters” in President Clark’s family home evening group at BYU. They made Sunday dinner together one evening and have been together ever since. President Clark married Sue—whom he describes as “the love of my life” — in 1971, eventually bringing seven children into the world.

            With married life just getting under way, President Clark decided to give Harvard another chance. He returned to Boston, changed his major to economics, and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1974. A master’s degree followed in 1977 and a doctorate in 1978. With a lifelong passion for education that never waned, President Clark joined the faculty of Harvard Business School that year.

            And so began a remarkable teaching and administrative career that would span nearly three decades. President Clark taught at HBS for 27 years including 10 years as dean. He pushed initiatives to strengthen the school’s research and educational programs and to improve its campus. Faculty grew by 20 percent under President Clark’s leadership, and he succeeded in raising the HBS endowment from $550 million to nearly

$2 billion. He authored several books and papers on topics such as technology, productivity, and product development.

            But perhaps the most high-profile achievement of his administration came just last year, when he took a firm stance against the scandals at major corporations like Enron and WorldCom by introducing mandatory ethics classes for HBS students. “We learned that it is not enough to have high standards; it’s not enough even to teach about the importance of and create awareness in the students about the issues,” President Clark said. “You have to equip students with frameworks, concepts and tools that allow them to take fairly complicated situations, break them down, and understand what is at stake.” He believes ethical behavior is simply a matter of living correct principles and says the idea holds true everywhere, from the boardrooms of corporate America, to the Harvard Business School, to BYU–Idaho. “Apply your values and principles in an effective way to come to a good resolution of the issue,” he said.

            President Clark’s push for ethical training at HBS would become something of a punctuation mark on his tenure there because several months later the call to leave Harvard and assume the presidency of BYU–Idaho came. He admits it was a bittersweet decision. “I think I was part of one of the very finest institutions in the world,” he said. “Harvard Business School is a remarkable institution, extraordinarily well run by great people.” But President Clark also knew the time had come to move on. “It’s not easy to leave, but ten years is about the right time for deans to serve,” he said on the day of his announcement as president. “So when this opportunity to become president of BYU–Idaho came, I felt that the time was right.”

            But word of President Clark’s decision to leave Harvard sent a shock wave through many parts of the academic and business communities. Leaders of universities and corporations alike were left scratching their heads. How could anyone walk away from such a prestigious post—without hesitation—to lead a new and relatively unknown university in rural Idaho? It defied conventional wisdom. But President Clark was unfazed by the dropping jaws and puzzled looks.

            “I expected some people to be completely baffled and shocked that I would go to BYU–Idaho,” he said. “It’s the reaction I would have had five years ago. It doesn’t make any sense because the world is organized around a set of ideas about progression, careers, and what people do.”

            But like all Church universities, BYU–Idaho does not follow the world’s pattern. Its course is charted by a higher authority, and President Clark knows exactly where the call to trade Boston for Rexburg came from. “He didn’t gloss over any of the reasons why he came to BYU–Idaho,” Sister Clark said, referring to his final State of the School address at Harvard. “He told about getting the call from President Hinckley and that in our church we hold him to be the prophet of God—and when the prophet calls, you go.”

            “I wanted people to really know what we are doing and what this place is really about,” President Clark said, “and I don’t think we have to apologize to anybody.” His eagerness to answer the call to lead BYU–Idaho has even developed into something of a missionary tool. “Many people have told me others are now talking to them about the Church, about why this happened,” President Clark said. “It’s been a really positive thing.”

            President and Sister Clark also have no reservations about leaving Boston, their home of 34 years, to come to Rexburg. “We did find many wonderful people there, in and out of the Church,” President Clark said of Boston. “We liked living there and partook of different aspects of it.” But after so many years of big city life, Rexburg appears to be a good fit for the Clarks. “It’s just been terrific to be here,” President Clark said, crediting his and Sister Clark’s Western roots for the easy transition. “I was born out here, so it doesn’t feel foreign to us at all. It feels very comfortable and very familiar. The people are so wonderful.”

            President Clark comes to Rexburg with a clear and simple vision for BYU–Idaho; a vision shaped by the direction given to him by Church leaders. “Our job is to make this a great university,” he said, “in the image that the Lord wants it to be.” And not surprisingly, President Clark’s own personal desires for the university he is now responsible for closely mirror the charge from the Brethren.

            “It might sound a little bit like platitude, but it’s true; my fondest, deepest hope for this place is that it will become everything the Lord wants it to be,” President Clark said. “It’s an interesting thing to try to understand what the Lord wants done. Whose will is it? Where do we need to take the university in the grand scheme of things? We’ll try to do His work, and if we do that, this place will be a phenomenon. It’ll be great.”

            The university President Clark inherits is just five years into a sweeping transformation. BYU–Idaho has turned heads over the past few years by quickly and efficiently adding nearly 50 new bachelor’s degree programs and implementing an innovative academic calendar. Several new buildings have been added, and others are being renovated. It’s an enormous task to take on, but President Clark feels comfortable with the pace and progress of the transition from Ricks College and believes BYU–Idaho’s best days are still ahead. “I think the university is really in great shape,” he said. “I think the work that has been done has been excellent and the foundation is strong. I think people can come here in confidence that they will find a place that is on the right track. That’s my assessment of the university.”

            For President Clark being on the right track includes implementing an educational principle he feels very strongly about: understanding how students learn and helping them do it better. “I believe education is a developmental process. It’s not just about imparting knowledge to people; it’s about developing,” President Clark said. “We need to understand how people change and grow so we can do more, be more effective, and create higher quality experiences for the students.” And he believes that involves much more than just what happens inside the classroom. “In this university, it’s about developing the whole person. Developing spiritually, personally, emotionally, socially, intellectually—all aspects of their character,” he said. “That they truly become the kind of disciple the Lord wants them to be.”

            Helping everyone associated with BYU–Idaho become a disciple of Jesus Christ is one of the university’s core missions. And as he begins his administration, President Clark pledges to the alumni of Ricks College and BYU–Idaho that the disciple creation process will start at the top. “I want the alumni to know that I will live my life close to the Spirit and have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost,” he said. “I will always be in perfect alignment with President Hinckley and the Brethren, and I will do everything I can to help this university realize its glorious destiny.”

            A destiny President Clark hopes all Ricks College and BYU–Idaho alumni will be part of and share with others: “When someone asks where they went to school and they say BYU–Idaho, I want people to say ‘that’s great.’ BYU–Idaho will always be a place they will be proud of.”

 

 

In the News…

 

“The fact that such an accomplished soul would—in the words of church President Gordon B. Hinckley—‘trade the halls of Harvard for a view of the Grand Teton Mountains’—should be an obvious sign to BYU–Idaho students and faculty of the man’s humility and his personal priorities. He is, to the core, a man of integrity and faith. Ironically, his brain-trust Harvard colleagues were much more befuddled by his decision than BYU–Idaho freshmen.”- Deseret Morning News editorial

 

“Since he came to Harvard as a freshman in 1967, Harvard Business School Dean Kim Clark has left the university only once—to serve as a Mormon missionary in Germany. Now, at 56, Clark is once again answering the call of his church. On June 6 he announced he’s leaving Harvard to become president of Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University–Idaho in Rexburg.”- BusinessWeek

 

“The changes [President Clark] foresees for the university … will be the steady and upward course the university has been heading since the transition to a four-year institution. That steady course is the hallmark and theme of [BYU–Idaho] and what the school will be known for.”- Rexburg Standard Journal

 

“Clark described the job as a challenge—particularly in holding onto the legacy of Ricks College and BYU–Idaho while propelling it into the future.”- Idaho Falls Post Register

 

Inauguration…

 

Pledging to pursue the mission of Brigham Young University–Idaho with “every bit of energy and ability,” Kim B. Clark was formally installed as president at inaugural ceremonies in the Hart Auditorium on October 11.

            “I know that with all of us working as one, with the inspired guidance of the Board, this university will move forward on the steady, upward course the Lord has set,” President Clark said in his response to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s installation and charge. “It will be a university true to its heritage, true to its mission, everything the Lord wants it to be.”

            President Hinckley presided at the inauguration, joined by his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust. “We are so richly blessed to have you presiding over this institution,” President Hinckley said. “You are recognized for your abilities across the world. Now you have been kind enough to come here, to build this university.” Several members of the Board of Trustees and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were also present, including Elder David A. Bednar, former BYU–Idaho president. 

            Other dignitaries taking part in the inauguration included Dirk Kempthorne, Governor of Idaho, who described BYU–Idaho as “one of the gems of the Gem State,” and Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard University and President Clark’s colleague of some 30 years. After praising President Clark’s leadership at Harvard, President Summers lightheartedly lamented his departure from the school, calling it “bittersweet news for Harvard—but wonderful news for your university, and for all who care about American higher education and the character of those who lead its institutions.”

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

[Table of Contents]

;