Obama selects Asian to lead World Bank

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 President Obama has nominated Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College, as the next head of the World Bank.

Some experts were surprised that Obama chose a candidate with a health background rather than a more traditional selection of an authority in politics or the financial field.

While the U.S. government typically chooses the leader of the World Bank, Kim does face some opposition. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the finance minister of Nigeria, has the support of African countries. In South America, nations have tapped Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former finance minister in Colombia.

All three will be interviewed by the 25 members of the World Bank’s governing board in mid-April. The man selected will succeed outgoing President Robert B. Zoellick.

The role of the World Bank is to strengthen private financial markets, but it also funds public health and social programs in third-world countries. That is Kim’s strength.

Kim moved to the U.S. from South Korea with his family at age 5. They landed in Iowa, and he went on to play quarterback on his high school football team. He attended Brown University in Rhode Island, and then earned his medical degree and a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard.

Kim, now 52, has worked on public health issues around the globe. He led a program of the World Health Organization to expand the distribution of drugs to combat HIV and also saw to it that medication for tuberculosis reached remote lands. After Obama announced his nomination, he intended to leave for a “listening tour” to gain support from other countries.

Kim was named president of Dartmouth in 2009, becoming the first Asian American to take the helm of an Ivy League college. He previously had been a professor at Harvard Medical School and at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Kim will immediately leave for an international “listening tour” to cement support among other countries, according to an administration official. The official said the White House was confident of broad support.