President Simmons speaks at inauguration of Dartmouth president
The festive two-day inauguration of Brown alumnus Jim Yong Kim ’82 as the 17th president of Ivy sister school Dartmouth College began Monday, September 21, with a star-studded panel of “extraordinary leaders” discussing leadership for social change. It continued on Tuesday, September 22, with formal ceremonies – including an address by President Ruth J. Simmons. (See video.)
“You advance characteristics of leadership that are highly desirable in a university president,” Simmons said at the Tuesday ceremony. She praised his “moral strength and courage to make difficult decisions, the tenacity to stay the course, the intellectual generosity to tolerate and learn from criticism, the ability to extract learning from failure, the persuasiveness and charisma to represent the university well, and the distinction to be truly an international leader.
“As president of Dartmouth,” Simmons told Kim, “you are prepared to speak to the world, and have the world speak back to Dartmouth.”
Simmons also was among the speakers on the Monday panel. She spoke of her own path to leadership and the crucial role mentors played in her journey from sharecroppers’ daughter to Ivy president. Simmons praised a high school teacher who saw her potential and drew her out. ”I found a teacher with the ability to show me what was possible in life,” Simmons reflected.
Another panelist, global health pioneer Paul Farmer, who received an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from Brown in 2003 and was co-founder with Kim of Partners in Health, a nonprofit that focuses on poor communities around the world, spoke of his transformative experiences as a physician in some of the world’s poorest places. He urged educators to communicate humanity’s suffering vividly to students, who, “just like faculty, need to feel engaged with the world’s problems.”
In addition to Simmons and Farmer, the panel included Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, Freddie Mac head Ed Haldeman, and moderator Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
The first physician to serve as Dartmouth’s president, Kim also is an anthropologist who has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in anthropology, social analysis, social medicine, and global health. Both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in medicine and anthropology, respectively, are from Harvard. He is a former director of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organization (WHO). Before assuming the Dartmouth presidency, Kim held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. Brown awarded him an honorary doctorate at the 2009 Commencement exercises.
Complete coverage of the ceremonies is available at Dartmouth’s inauguration Web site.