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JAMES WRIGHT, 1998 - present
James Wright is the 16th President of the College. A noted historian, he has been a member of the Dartmouth faculty since 1969, and has held numerous leadership posts at the College including Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Provost and Acting President. A specialist in American political history with a focus on the history of the American West, he is the author or editor of five books: The Galena Lead District: Federal Policy and Practices, 1824-1847 (1966); The West of the American People (1970); The Politics of Populism: Dissent in Colorado (1974); The Great Plains Experience: Readings in the History of a Region (1978); and The Progressive Yankees: Republican Reformers in New Hampshire (1987).
Born in 1939 at Madison, Wisconsin, James Wright was raised in Galena, Illinois. After being graduated from Galena High School in 1957, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving for three years in postings that included California, Hawaii and Japan. Following his military service, he earned a bachelor's degree in history from Wisconsin State University (now the University of Wisconsin-Platteville).
His academic work as an undergraduate earned him prestigious fellowships from the Danforth Foundation and the IBM Corporation, making it possible for him to pursue graduate study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned master's and doctoral degrees in history. Under the mentorship of historian Allan G. Bogue, Wright became one of the pioneers in applying quantitative methods to his field.
Immediately after receiving his Ph.D. in 1969, Wright joined Dartmouth's Department of History as an Assistant Professor, rising to Associate Professor in 1974 and Professor of History in 1980. An active researcher, he received between 1970 and 1980 a Social Science Research Council Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Charles Warren Fellowship at Harvard. He also served as senior historian at the University of Mid-America (a consortium of nine Midwestern universities in Lincoln, Nebraska) in the 1976-77 academic year, and as a member of the faculty of the Dartmouth Institute from 1981-83.
From 1976-78 Wright was senior historian for an award-winning, six-film series on the history of the Great Plains. He participated in conferences on "TV and the Historian" and "The Historian as Film-Maker" in 1978, and later served as chair of the American Historians Committee on Television, Film and Media.
James Wright served as Dean of the Faculty from 1989-97 and as Acting President of the College during the first six months of 1995, while President James O. Freedman was on sabbatical. He has chaired a succession of key committees at the College, including a 1978-80 committee that reviewed the curriculum and year-round education, and the committee whose work led to comprehensive changes in the Dartmouth undergraduate curriculum in 1993.
President Wright was named Acting Provost and then Provost in 1997. He was elected to the Dartmouth presidency in April 1998 and took office on August 1, 1998.
President Wright is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the Western History Association and the New Hampshire chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.
President Wright is married to Susan DeBevoise Wright. He has two sons, a daughter and five grandchildren.