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World Bank president to deliver 2013 commencement address

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, will deliver Northeastern University’s 111th commencement address on May 3, 2013. Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, broke the news on Twitter on Tuesday night.

Kim, the former Dartmouth College president and a public health leader, will speak during the morning ceremony at TD Garden in front of 20,000 undergraduate students, family members, friends, and university leaders.

“Public health is a challenge that reverberates across the globe and one that drives Northeastern’s research mission,” Aoun said. “The impact of Dr. Kim’s work spans across continents and is exemplary of the work of our researchers and students. His efforts to ease worldwide poverty and increase social responsibility are inspiring, and we are pleased to honor his contributions.”

After spending much of his career dedicated to helping the world’s underserved populations, Kim was nominated by President Obama in 2012 to lead the World Bank. Kim’s appointment marks the first time the bank has been led by an expert in public health, not an economist. The multinational organization, which includes 187 member countries, is dedicated to eradicating poverty and strengthening financial markets around the world.

“We have the opportunity to end extreme poverty and build shared prosperity within our generation,” Kim said. “These goals are within reach if we tackle the many faces of inequity—within countries, globally, and across generations. The challenge for institutions of higher education is to inspire students to have a stronger sense of social responsibility to take this on.”

As the co-founder of Partners In Health and a former director of the HIV/AIDS Department at the World Health Organization, Kim’s international development work has focused on some of the most pressing public health threats in developing countries, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

As president of Dartmouth from 2009-2012, Kim’s tenure was marked by such achievements as having successfully reduced the institution’s financial deficit without cutting academic programs and his founding of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, a multidisciplinary institute dedicated to developing new models of healthcare delivery and achieving better health outcomes at lower costs.

Previously, Kim held professorships and chaired departments at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Born in 1959 in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Muscatine, Iowa, Kim graduated from Brown University in 1982 with a degree in human biology, and went on to earn an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1991. In 1993, he earned a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University.

A recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2003, Kim was also named one of America’s “25 Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report in 2005 and was selected as one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2006.

Kim follows former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who delivered the university’s 2012 commencement address. Other past Northeastern commencement speakers have included U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, philanthropist and international business leader Kenneth Cole, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen Breyer, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.