World Bank nominee raised in Iowa, has University of Iowa ties

Graduated from Muscatine High School

President Barack Obama stands with Jim Yong Kim, his nominee to be the next World Bank President, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Friday. Kim is president of Dartmouth College and grew up in Muscatine. (AP)
President Barack Obama stands with Jim Yong Kim, his nominee to be the next World Bank President, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Friday. Kim is president of Dartmouth College and grew up in Muscatine. (AP)

A man raised in Muscatine who briefly attended the University of Iowa and whose parents were associated with the school has been tapped to be the next president of the World Bank.

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim for the post.

Kim was born in 1959 in South Korea but moved with his family to the United States at age 5 and grew up in Muscatine, according to his biography on the New Hampshire school’s website.  He was valedictorian and president of his class at Muscatine High School and was a quarterback on the football team, according to his biography.

Kim said in an interview when he was president-elect of Dartmouth in 2009 that he also played varsity basketball and golf.

“I grew up in Iowa and spent most of my childhood really being crazy about and participating in a lot of sports,” he said.

Kim spent a year and half studying biomedical engineering as an undergraduate at the UI, according to the online magazine of the Dartmouth engineering school. He received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and has a doctorate and a medical degree from Harvard University.

“I’ve been a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and followed Iowa sports for all these years,” Kim said in the 2009 interview.

His father was a dentist who taught at the UI and his mother received her doctorate in philosophy from the UI, according to Kim’s biography.

The 187-nation World Bank focuses on fighting poverty and promoting development. It is a leading source of development loans for countries seeking financing to build dams, roads and other infrastructure projects.

Since its founding in 1944, the World Bank has always been headed by an American. But developing countries, who have long sought to gain more power in the organization, have planned an unprecedented challenge to Obama's pick and are expected to put forward as many as three other candidates.

However, Kim is still expected to succeed outgoing president Robert Zoellick, who announced in February that he was stepping down.

The actual selection will be made next month by the World Bank's 25-member executive board. The United States, as the world's largest economy, has the largest percentage of the votes.

Kim is an unconventional pick that could help to quell criticism in the developing world of the U.S. stranglehold on the international organization's top post.

Obama said Kim, a Korean-born physician and pioneer in the treatment of HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis, has the breadth of experience on development issues needed to carry out the financial institution's anti-poverty mission.


Based in Washington, D.C., the World Bank started in 1944, after the Bretton Woods Conference, which focused on rebuilding the world’s financial markets in the final days of World War II.

The World Bank’s mission statement is “working for a world free of poverty”.  It is not a traditional bank, but rather provides no interest or low interest loans and grants to developing countries.  In FY2011, the World Bank handed out more than $43 billion for a variety of projects, such as expanding education, health initiatives, government reforms, and ensuring a clean water and food supply.

The bank gets its money from its 187 member countries and selling bonds on global financial markets.

A Board of Executive directors governs the bank’s day-to-day operations with the President of the Bank serves as the chairman of the board.  The group meets twice a week to review loans and set bank policies.

The World Bank has faced criticism for the way it run.  Since large economies control most of the bank’s power, some claim the bank’s policies have helped those wealthier nations exploit developing nations.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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