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>  News Releases >   2007 >   July

Dartmouth President named a "New Englander of the Year"

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 07/26/07 • Roland Adams or Rebecca Bailey • (603) 646-3661

New England Council recognizes James Wright for leadership in higher education and educational counseling services for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
President James Wright
President James Wright (Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox)

Dartmouth President James Wright has been chosen a "New Englander of the Year" for 2007 by the New England Council, the council announced today. 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 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. More than 1,200 people from around the region are expected to attend the dinner celebration. For ticket information call the New England Council at (617) 723-4009

Formed in 1925, the New England Council is an alliance of large and small companies, educational institutions, 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," said 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."

Wright, a historian who specializes in American political history, has been a member of the Dartmouth faculty since 1969, after earning a bachelor's degree from Wisconsin State University and master's and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Wisconsin. He has authored or edited five books, including The Progressive Yankees, a study of political reform in New Hampshire during the era of Theodore Roosevelt.

Wright has served as President of Dartmouth since 1998. Before becoming president he had served successively as an associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, dean of the faculty and then provost. As president he has expanded the faculty, enhanced the out-of-the-classroom experience, and undertaken an ambitious facilities agenda that includes academic, residential life, and athletic projects.

Before entering college, Wright enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 and served three years. Two years ago, that experience led him to begin a series of visits to U.S. military medical facilities in Washington, D.C. to meet Marines and other U.S. military personnel who have been wounded in the course of service in Iraq and Afghanistan and to encourage them to continue their education once they are discharged from service. He subsequently led the creation and funding of an educational counseling program for wounded U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan that is now being offered through the American Council on Education (ACE). In a single week 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".

Wright said, "I am grateful to the New England Council for this recognition and I am honored to join such distinguished company. 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."

Wright began visiting U.S. Marines at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland in 2005. He first decided to visit the hospital in order to see if he could help encourage the wounded veterans to consider pursuing their education following their discharge. Over the last two years he has made nine trips to the Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Each time he goes from bed to bed and speaks with veterans about their experiences and their longer-term aspirations, encouraging them to continue their 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 the veterans would need more educational counseling than any individual alone could provide, he contacted David Ward, President of the American Council on Education (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 fifty veterans had asked for appointments with these counselors. Two Iraq War veterans are planning to matriculate at Dartmouth in the fall, including one who was identified and encouraged by the ACE counselor working at his hospital.

"I am always moved by the service members' stories and inspired by their courage and sacrifice," said 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."

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