- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2005

REXBURG, Idaho - Getting a Harvard man to abandon one of the nation’s most prestigious business schools for an Idaho church college seems like a task that would demand divine intervention.

For Kim Clark, who left his post as Harvard Business School dean last week, it came down to the next best thing.

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mr. Clark took a call in May from Gordon Hinckley, the 95-year-old president of the Mormons. Mr. Hinckley asked the economist to head Brigham Young University-Idaho, in Rexburg, which just five years ago was a two-year junior college.

“You have to appreciate what this is like,” said Mr. Clark, 56. “We behold [Mr. Hinkley] to be a prophet. Imagine yourself getting a call from Moses.”

Scholars of Mormonism say Mr. Clark’s exchange of cosmopolitan Cambridge, Mass., for rural Idaho offers a glimpse of the allegiance Mormon laity have to leaders in one of the world’s fastest-growing faiths.

“LDS people are pretty responsive to that sort of a direct call — a mission call, almost,” said Lawrence Foster, a religious history professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

It will be a drastic change in scenery and culture for Mr. Clark, who began his Harvard career as a freshman in 1967, interrupting his stay only for a two-year church mission in Germany and a year at BYU’s campus in Provo, Utah.

Mr. Clark was born in Utah and raised in Spokane, Wash., but he had been to Rexburg only for short stays before taking over at the college. His new home has just 17,000 residents.

“It doesn’t matter to me what other people think about” the decision to leave Harvard, Mr. Clark said. “I’m pretty sure that if you and I have this conversation 10 years from now, people will know about BYU-Idaho.”

Viewed from inside the church, the move could be seen as a promotion, establishing Mr. Clark, a former Mormon bishop, as a rising star. His predecessor as university president, David Bednar, was named in 2004 to the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, a Mormon church governing body.

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