Dartmouth College President James Wright will step down next year to spend more time working to help wounded veterans go to college and rededicating himself to his academic field of study.
Wright, 68, informed the college’s Board of Trustees that he would leave in June of 2009, after 11 years as president and 40 years at the Ivy League school.
Wright, the college’s 16th president, has led Dartmouth’s efforts to expand the faculty, increase student diversity, build and renovate campus facilities and bolster its financial aid resources.
In 2005, Wright, a former U.S. Marine, visited a number of military medical facilities in Washington and Maryland to meet with military personnel who had been wounded in Iraq. He encouraged them to continue their educations and later helped to organize an educational counseling program for wounded veterans through the American Council on Education.
Dartmouth made substantial progress under Wright’s stewardship, particularly by increasing the educational caliber and diversity of the student body. Dartmouth has increased enrollment of students of color from 20 percent in 1998 to more than 30 percent today.
Touted throughout the nation as one of the leaders in Native American studies, Dartmouth boasts the highest number of Native American students in the Ivy League. Wright was influential in abating an incident that caught the attention of the national media and led to an anti-hate rally attended by more than 500 faculty, students and administrators. (See “Damage Control at Dartmouth” http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_6814.shtml)
In November of 2006, the independent student paper, The Dartmouth Review, published a caricature of an American Indian warrior waving a scalp on the cover alongside the headline “The Natives Are Getting Restless.” In a campus-wide e-mail to students, Wright exhorted students to help build a more welcoming and inclusive community.
Since 1998, the applicant pool at Dartmouth has grown by 60 percent to more than 16,000 in the current year, and the college currently boasts the highest number of tenured women faculty in the Ivy League.
He said that completing his presidency in June 2009 would allow him to ensure a successful conclusion of several key initiatives, including the “Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience” which has raised $1 billion towards its $1.3 billion goal.
“After 11 years as president, I believe it will be the right time for a new president to assume leadership of Dartmouth. Every institution benefits over time from new leadership and fresh ideas,” Wright said.
–Michelle J. Nealy
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