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Law School Bids Farewell to A.W. Clausen (’49)

JANUARY 28, 2013—Alden Winship "Tom" Clausen (’49), a former executive with Bank of America and the World Bank, passed away Jan. 22, 2013, in a hospital in Burlingame, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 89. Throughout his life Clausen kept the nickname he earned playing "Tom" in a grade-school play while growing up in Hamilton, Ill.

Clausen began his education at Carthage College, then located in Carthage, Ill., just a few miles from home. In his third year he was called into the Army Air Corps and was sent to the University of Chicago to study meteorology, then to Yale University to become a communications officer. Carthage gave him credit for his service work and granted him a B.S. in mathematics in 1944. After his discharge in 1946, he enrolled at the Law School and graduated in 1949.

In 1950 he took a summer job with Bank of America in Los Angeles. Soon he transferred to a trainee position in San Francisco and began a steady rise: to senior vice president in 1965, executive vice president and head of the international lending division in 1968, board vice chair in 1969, and president and CEO in 1970.

With a nomination from President Carter to succeed Robert McNamara, Clausen took on the presidency of the struggling World Bank in 1981, then comprised of 147 member countries. For the next five years he led efforts to lower interest rates and accelerate disbursements of loans. He took special pride in his role in creating the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

When Clausen returned to the Bank of America in 1986, it also was struggling. He cut expenses, increased efficiency, and led it back to firm ground by the time he retired as CEO in 1990.

A devoted advocate of international cooperation, he was involved in numerous educational, foreign policy, and economic organizations. He was an advisor to the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership, former chair and an active member after retirement of the World Affairs Council of Northern California, and a member of the Korea-U.S. Wiseman Council, Asia Foundation, Committee for Economic Development, Population Action International, and International Center for Economic Growth.

He received the University of Minnesota Outstanding Achievement Award; Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award; Carthage Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Carthage Flame; California Industrialist of the Year Award; awards from the governments of Italy, Japan, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, and Venezuela; and honorary degrees from Carthage, Gonzaga University, Lewis and Clark College, and the universities of Notre Dame, the Pacific, and Santa Clara.

When Carthage College (now located in Kenosha, Wisc.) named its international business, economics, and political science learning facility the A.W. Clausen Center for World Business, Clausen commented in an interview on the Center's website, "The world has become increasingly small, and world affairs increasingly important. I'm hoping the next generation of managers has a deep understanding of this fact."

Clausen was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Mary Margaret Crassweller. He is survived by his second wife, Helen Higgins, sons Eric and Mark from his first marriage, and five grandchildren.


Tom Clausen

Tom Clausen (’49)

Photo courtesy of Carthage College