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Houghton Mifflin names new CEO

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Boston textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has named John “Jack” J. Lynch Jr. as the company’s new chief executive.

Lynch, who holds a bachelor of arts from Boston University, was most recently the chief executive of Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning, a K-12 educational software and analytics company owned by Hellman & Friedman and Google Capital.

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He succeeds Linda K. Zecher, who resigned in September after five years at the helm.

“I am honored and excited to join Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as its CEO,” Lynch said in a statement Wednesday. “HMH is exceptionally well positioned to lead the education industry in the rapid transition to digital and highly personalized learning experiences.”

L. Gordon Crovitz, a member of Houghton’s Board of Directors, will continue serving as interim CEO until Lynch takes office in a few weeks.

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

The change at the top comes as the 185-year-old company navigates a transition into digital products. Houghton reported sales of $1.1 billion through the first nine months of 2016, and an operating loss of nearly $60 million. The company is slated to release its full year results later in February.

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Lynch has more than 25 years of management experience in the software and information industry and was the founding chief executive of bigchalk.com, an online education network serving 40,000 schools.

He was later president and chief executive of the Pearson Technology Group, and prior to joining Renaissance Learning, was a member of the executive board of Wolters Kluwer. At Houghton he will also serve as company president and will be a member of its board of directors.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.



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