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 graduate program to step down this year, after Graduate School of Education Dean Ellen Condiffe Lagemann and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Peter T. Ellison.
Clark will fly to Rexburg, Idaho, tonight and will address the student body tomorrow morning, said a spokesman for the school, Don Sparhawk.
At a press conference in Hawes Hall at HBS this afternoon, Clark said he received a call last month from Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the Mormon Church, asking him to assume the helm of 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 today.
BYU-Idaho’s previous leader, 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 school of the same name located in 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 40 countries. Although the school, initially known as Ricks College, was founded in 1888, it has only offered bachelors degrees for the past five years.
Clark has spent nearly his entire academic and professional life at Harvard.
In 1967, after his freshman spring, Clark left Harvard College to serve as a Mormon missionary in Germany for two years, and then spent a year at BYU in Provo.
After earning bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from Harvard, he garnered an appointment to the Business School faculty in 1978.
In the 1980s, he co-wrote several economics papers with now-University President Lawrence H. Summers while the two were young professors.
Summers, praising his long-time colleague, said today, “His decade at the Harvard Business School has been a decade of great change and great strengthening for a great institution.”