Then-Dean of Faculty James Wright, later President of Dartmouth, meeting with Rita Süssmuth, then President of the Bundestag, in 1997 on the 10th anniversary of the chair. To the left are Walter Picard and his wife, Gisela.
Created to strengthen relationships between Dartmouth College and academic institutions in Germany and to promote a deeper understanding between the two countries, the William P. and Dewilda N. Harris German/Dartmouth Distinguished Visiting Professorship brings Germans from any academic, public, or artistic field to Dartmouth to teach, lecture, participate in conferences and joint research, contribute to departmental offerings, and establish on-going collegial contacts. Since the chair's inception in 1987, the many visitors have taught or otherwise contributed to such diverse departments, programs, and institutes as Government, History, English, Religion, Philosophy, Physics, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Anthropology, Art History, Drama, Film Studies, German, Economics, Environmental Studies, Jewish Studies, Linguistics, Native American Studies, Women's Studies, Sociology, Neurosurgery, the Humanities Institute, the War and Peace Seminar, and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. The length of these visits has varied from several days to a full teaching term.
Departments and programs are invited to propose future visitors, following the nomination procedure. Since most appointments require considerable lead time, nominations for specific terms in Dartmouth's academic calendar should normally be submitted several years in advance.
All nominations are voted on by the Harris Advisory Board.
History of the chair: In 1987, Dartmouth College and the Federal Republic of Germany signed an agreement establishing what was first called the German-Dartmouth Distinguished Visiting Professorship. It remains in structure a unique joint undertaking and is designed to bring German scholars and professionals from all fields to teach and/or participate in research at Dartmouth. It is administered by the Dean of Faculty Office and is independent from the Department of German Studies.
This endowed chair was initiated by Walter Picard, a former member of the German Bundestag who was long active in the field of United States-German cultural relations and had spent a term at Dartmouth in 1983 as the Max Kade Visiting Professor in the Department of German Studies. Through his efforts, the professorship was funded by the German government (as voted by the Bundestag) for the first ten years, while Dartmouth College deposited matching monies in an endowment account. At the end of this period, the fund had grown to a size sufficient to make the professorship self-supporting. Its continuation was secured in 1991, when William P. and Dewilda N. Harris agreed to fund the endowment. Mr. Harris is a Dartmouth alumnus, and both he and his wife (since deceased) had extensive experience with, and interest in, United States-German relations, since both served for a number of years in Germany as U.S. Foreign Service Officers after World War II. In appreciation for their generosity, the title of the program was changed to the "William P. and Dewilda N. Harris German-Dartmouth Distinguished Professorship." To honor the role of Walter Picard in founding the professorship, the annual "Walter Picard Lecture" was established at the same time.
The Professorship's Program Administrator is: Stephanie Taylor
Last Updated: 2/18/13