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'Aspire to change the world'

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Dartmouth Inaugurates Jim Yong Kim as the 17th president of the College

"Aspire to change the world" was the charge President Jim Yong Kim delivered to students in his Inaugural address. Taking on the world’s most pressing problems, he said, will require both “passion and practicality—either without the other will be inadequate to tackle the challenges we face today.”

President Kim

President Jim Yong Kim addresses the crowd at Inauguration on September 22. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Dartmouth formally inaugurated global health leader Jim Yong Kim as the 17th president of the College on September 22. More than 5,000 people attended the ceremony on the Green and 8,421 tuned in to the live video broadcast. Inaugural events also included a panel discussion on “Reflections on Leadership for Social Change,” (view a PDF of Dartmouth Life's special Inauguration section), a “Dartmouth and the Performing Arts” show, and a Community Celebration on the Green featuring student performers.

President Kim emphasized that “the heart of this College has always been inspired teaching.” Noting that, “Our legacy also shows that innovation and independence can thrive most richly when they build on a common intellectual foundation,” he said, “Let’s revive the ‘Great Issues’ course to give today’s students a shared intellectual foundation for taking on the most challenging problems of our time.” The “Great Issues” course was originally established at Dartmouth in the 1950s by President John Sloan Dickey, Class of 1929.

The ceremony also marked Convocation for the 1,094 members of the Class of 2013. President Kim told students, “Your generation must dream, dream more ambitiously than any who have preceded you. But just to dream is not enough. You must deliver on the dream where previous generations have fallen short.”

President Kim instructed students how to use their time at Dartmouth towards these ambitious goals. “As an old teacher, I like to make things simple to remember,” he said. “During your four years here, remember these four P’s. Find your passion, be persistent in achieving mastery, pursue knowledge in the way that works best for you, and embrace the planet’s problems, because no one will be more prepared to fix them than you.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to tackle social problems around the world—but I came to Dartmouth because I’m convinced that those of you gathered here today will achieve far more than I ever could,” he continued. “Helping you do that is now my mission in life.”

President Jim Yong Kim is a physician, educator, and infectious disease expert. In 1987, he co-founded the nonprofit organization Partners in Health with Dr. Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, and others. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Muscatine, Iowa, he is the first Asian American to be appointed president of an Ivy League school.

BY SARAH MEMMI

Last Updated: 1/12/10