Living a Lifelong Dream
PROVO, Utah – Mar 25, 2021 – After decades of leading educational institutions such as the Harvard Business School and BYU–Idaho, Kim B. Clark is still sharing intellectual and spiritual knowledge with students as the NAC Professor of Business at the BYU Marriott School of Business. With a career in education that spans more than forty years, Clark considers his work at BYU Marriott to be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Clark’s journey in higher education began as a teenager in Washington state when he was praying about where to attend college. “In my junior year of high school, I started thinking about going to college somewhere out east on the other side of the country, but I knew nothing about Harvard at the time,” he says. “I had prayed about what to do, and I had a strong feeling that if I got in, I was to go to Harvard. I followed the prompting of the Spirit and went to Harvard.” Clark earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and PhD in economics there.
As Clark studied economics at Harvard, his PhD research piqued his interest in business and business education. “I found two plants down in Texas that were built in the same year and located four or five miles apart. Both companies were non-union, used the same technology, drew their workforce in the same labor market, and sold their product in the same market. But one of the plants was seventy percent more productive,” he remembers. “I was interested to see what the management team of the more productive company did to make its plant so much more successful than the other.” This observation motivated Clark to conduct research to find the answer to his question and eventually led him down the path to where he is today.
Clark remained at Harvard to teach after graduating with his PhD in 1978. Even though he had an offer from BYU Marriott upon graduation, which he considered to be his dream job, he felt prompted to stay where he was in Boston, Massachusetts. “My wife and I prayed about the decision, and the Lord directed us to stay at Harvard and teach in the business school,” he says.
Clark would spend the next twenty-seven years teaching and researching at the Harvard Business School, including a ten-year stint as dean of the school. His career then took a turn in a different direction in 2005 when he became president of BYU–Idaho and moved to Rexburg, Idaho. “BYU–Idaho was fascinating because I went from a graduate school at Harvard to an undergraduate institution where there was a different dynamic. BYU–Idaho was a different world and about as far away from Boston as you can get in almost all aspects,” he says. “My time in Rexburg was a great experience because the Lord had plans for the school, and he allowed me to be part of His plans.”
One of Clark’s most important initiatives while at BYU–Idaho was helping create programs to give people throughout the world access to higher education. “One of the most significant things my colleagues and I did at BYU–Idaho was creating what is now called BYU–Pathway Worldwide,” he says. “Pathway started out as a small program, but as of the Winter 2021 semester the program has more than fifty thousand students in nearly one hundred countries.”
After finishing his time as the president of BYU–Idaho, Clark was asked to be an educator in a different way as a General Authority Seventy and commissioner of education for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I was responsible for the global Church Educational System, which includes all the seminaries and institutes, Church schools teaching kindergarten through twelfth grade, and all of the Church’s institutions of higher education, including BYU–Pathway. That work to help people find educational opportunities was a real blessing,” he says. “The Church Educational System is an incredible institution that offers life-changing opportunities to students.”
After turning seventy years old and becoming an emeritus general authority in 2019, Clark was able to finally have his dream job by becoming a professor at BYU Marriott. During his time as a professor in the Department of Management, he’s developed his own course to teach leadership and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Clark says that BYU Marriott Dean Brigitte C. Madrian was interested in giving graduate students an opportunity to take a course that would take them deep into the gospel while also connecting to principles of leadership.
After spending years as a leader in administrative roles, Clark says that returning to working more closely with students and helping them grow both as business leaders and as disciples of Jesus Christ are among his most meaningful professional experiences. “As a professor I try to impart as much of my practical and secular knowledge and experience to my students, but most importantly, I want them to learn that, as in all things, the Lord Jesus Christ is our best example of the perfect leader,” he says. “We can learn and apply patterns of disciple-leadership by better understanding Him and His gospel.”
After all that he’s done in the world of education over decades of work, Clark is grateful for the chance to share his insights with BYU Marriott students and to grow alongside them. “I've been greatly blessed to teach at BYU Marriott,” he says. “BYU is a wonderful place, and I’m overjoyed that I am finally able to carry out my dream job.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce