Clark—a devout Mormon who has served as bishop, or lay leader of his congregation, in the Church—will leave HBS July 31, following a decade as the school’s top administrator.
Clark is the third head of a Harvard advanced-degree program to step down this year. Graduate School of Education Dean Ellen Condliffe Lagemann and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Peter T. Ellison both announced plans to leave their present positions earlier this spring.
At an HBS press conference announcing his departure yesterday afternoon, Clark said he received a call last month from Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the Mormon Church, asking him to take the helm at BYU-Idaho.
Clark said that he had long considered 10 years an appropriate tenure for a dean, but the job offer from the highest official in Mormonism catalyzed his departure.
“If the president of my church had not called me on the 25th of May, we would not be here,” Clark said at the press conference.
“A PIONEER TRADITION”
BYU-Idaho spokesman Don Sparhawk said that Clark is to address the school’s student body this morning at its campus in the Upper Snake River Valley.
BYU-Idaho’s previous head, David A. Bednar, left his post in December upon being named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Mormonism’s highest governing body beneath the Church’s president, according to Sparhawk.
BYU-Idaho is separate from the more widely-known Bringham Young University of Provo, Utah—although the two colleges share a common board of trustees.
According to Sparhawk, the all-undergraduate student body is 99 percent Mormon and draws from all 50 states and from 40 countries.
Clark joins BYU-Idaho in a transitional period. The school—which had been known as Ricks College since its founding in 1888—introduced a four-year bachelors degree program just five years ago.
Bruce E. Hobbs, the school’s director of public relations, said that BYU-Idaho remains firmly rooted in the “pioneer tradition.”
“The concept is that students don’t need an increase in budget or resources to start a new program,” Hobbs said. “We want them to take what they’ve been given and, through innovation, be successful.”
The school does not grant tenure to faculty, and 80 percent of majors require internships, most of which are off-campus and out-of-state, according to Hobbs.
The school also requires students to take courses in Mormon theology.
“We want a student who has a strong moral base,” Hobbs said.
In his position as HBS dean, Clark placed a strong curricular emphasis on ethics. After a series of scandals rocked the business world, Clark last year instituted a requirement that all MBA candidates take a full-semester course in “leadership and corporate accountability.”
He also presided over “a renaissance in the last decade in the use of information technology” at HBS, University President Lawrence H. Summers said at yesterday’s press conference. Clark implemented online study guides and interactive computer-based tutorials, among other innovations.
Meanwhile, Clark gained a reputation as a prodigious fundraiser.
The school kicked off a three-year capital campaign in 2003 with a $25 million donation from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Arthur Rock and a $32 million gift from Weather Channel founder Frank Batten.
The money from Rock’s donation helped finance a five-fold increase in the number of HBS professors whose primary focus is entrepreneurial leadership.
The $500 million campaign will come to a close this year.
Clark has also overseen the construction of new HBS facilities both on the school’s Allston campus and around the world.
He led what Shad Professor of Business Ethics Joseph L. Badaracco termed a “building renaissance,” including the construction of the Spangler Center, a state-of-the-art neo-Georgian colossus that includes a post office, restaurants, and study space.
He oversaw the creation of satellite research centers in Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, and Menlo Park, Calif. An office in Mumbai, India, is slated to open this year.
“He has brought a really strong sense of dedication to the aims of the institution, a willingness to base decisions on facts rather than politics, a sense of openness and candor, and a real commitment to doing what’s best for the school,” Badaracco said.
THE END OF AN ERA
Clark has spent nearly his entire academic and professional life at Harvard.
In 1967, after his freshman spring, he left Harvard College to serve as a missionary in Germany for two years.
After earning a masters degree and a doctorate from Harvard, he earned an appointment to the HBS faculty in 1978.
In the 1980s, he co-wrote several economics papers with Summers while the two were young professors.
Summers, praising his long-time colleague—and former graduate-school study partner—said yesterday, “His decade at the Harvard Business School has been a decade of great change and great strengthening for a great institution.”
Summers said yesterday he is “confident” that an acting dean will be in place at HBS when Clark departs at the end of next month.
—Staff writer Adam Goldenberg can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.