HMH Names Jack Lynch New CEO

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has appointed Jack J. Lynch, Jr. as CEO, president, and a member of the board of directors. Lynch succeeds Linda Zecher, who resigned as CEO in September after five years at the company.

Lynch has a long history in the educational and technology fields. He is currently CEO of Renaissance Learning, which operates in the K-12 learning analytics space. Lynch’s background includes being the founding CEO of bigchalk.com, an education network serving 40,000 schools, and serving as president and CEO of the Pearson Technology Group. Prior to joining Renaissance, Lynch was a member of the executive board of Wolters Kluwer.

Commenting on Lynch’s appointment, Lawrence Fish, chairman of the HMH board, said Lynch “brings an uncommon set of K-12 education and technology experience along with an outstanding track record generating exceptional returns for investors. He is the right leader at the right time as HMH and the education industry continue to transform and evolve.”

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Indeed, Lynch will have his challenges. HMH, like many educational publishing companies, has struggled with the slow and often rocky transition to greater use of digital materials in schools. For the first nine months of 2016, HMH had a loss of $103 million, compared to a loss of $36 million in the same period in 2015. The company will report results for the full year next week.

“HMH is exceptionally well positioned to lead the education industry in the rapid transition to digital and highly personalized learning experiences,” Lynch said in a statement. “Educators today are seeking solutions from companies they can trust to improve student outcomes, and HMH is well positioned to meet that need.”

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Lynch will join HMH in the next few weeks after he wraps up his duties at Renaissance Until he moves to the company. L. Gordon Crovitz, a member of the HMH board, will continue to serve as interim CEO.

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