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President Wright is a "New Englander of the Year"

President James Wright has been chosen a "New Englander of the Year" for 2007 by the New England Council. Wright will share this year's honor with Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Peter Meade, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

The awards will be presented at the Council's Annual Dinner on Oct. 1 in Boston.

Formed in 1925, the New England Council is an alliance of large and small companies, educational institutions, and nonprofit and other agencies. It is the nation's oldest regional business organization, dedicated to promoting economic development and a high quality of life in the six-state region.

Each year the Council selects individuals to receive the New Englander of the Year award based on their commitment and contributions in their fields of work and leadership and impact on the region's quality of life and economy.

"We are pleased to honor these outstanding recipients," says Council President James T. Brett. "From business and higher education to public service, these honorees are some of the most influential champions of the region whose contributions are making dynamic changes in the region's landscape."

Two years ago, Wright began a series of visits to U.S. military medical facilities in Washington, D.C., where he met Marines and other U.S. military personnel who had been wounded in the course of service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He encouraged them to continue their educations, and he subsequently led the creation and funding of an educational counseling program for wounded U.S. veterans that is now being offered through the American Council on Education (ACE). This May, The New York Times presented a feature on this work and ABC World News with Charles Gibson featured Wright as its Person of the Week.

"I am grateful to the New England Council for this recognition, and I am honored to join such distinguished company," Wright says. "It is my privilege to serve at Dartmouth where service and responsibility are part of the core values, and it has been inspiring to work with wounded veterans marked by courage and sacrifice and filled with promise."

Each time Wright visits the hospitals, he goes from bed to bed and speaks with veterans about their experiences and their longer-term aspirations, including education.

He was particularly concerned that many of the veterans had questions about specific schools or programs and that they would lose access to college counseling resources once discharged from military service. Realizing that they would need more educational counseling than any individual alone could provide, he contacted David Ward, president of ACE, the largest U.S. higher education association, who agreed to have his organization develop a program to meet these needs. Wright, working with James Selbe, director of military programs for ACE, has been instrumental in raising funds for this effort.

Earlier this year, three full-time education counselors began working at Walter Reed, the National Naval Hospital, and Brooke Army Medical Center. In the first week of the program, more than 50 veterans had asked for appointments with these counselors.

"I am always moved by the service members' stories and inspired by their courage and sacrifice," says Wright. "As a result of the ACE program, these young men and women who served so unselfishly and bravely will now be better served themselves. I wish we could do more. We can do no less."

By ROLAND ADAMS

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Last Updated: 5/30/08