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>  News Releases >   2008 >   February

Letter to the Dartmouth community from President James Wright

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Posted 02/04/08
Roland Adams • (603) 646-3661

February 4, 2008

I am writing to let you know that I have informed the Board of Trustees of my intention to step down as President of Dartmouth in June of 2009, following commencement and reunions.  By that time, I will have been at Dartmouth for 40 years as both a faculty member and administrator – having served as Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as Provost, and, since 1998, as the 16th President of the College. It has been an extraordinary experience that I shall always cherish, and a true privilege about which I feel a profound sense of humility.

At this moment, I am filled with rich memories – memories jarred by the quick passage of time and marked by the good fortune I feel.  They are memories of the students in my history classes with whom I have learned, the faculty colleagues who bring to this College a remarkable commitment to teaching and research, the dedicated staff and administrators who daily contribute to the strength of Dartmouth, alumni and alumnae whose loyalty and support of our College are legendary, and this current generation of students who daily energize me – and Dartmouth – anew.   I am continually inspired by memories of Presidents Dickey, Kemeny, McLaughlin, and Freedman. And, I am grateful to the Trustees with whom I have served; they are remarkably generous and selfless contributors to the work of the College.

But between now and June of 2009, I do not intend to dwell on memory – as enjoyable as that is. There is still much to do. Over the next months I will work to achieve the goals of the “Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience”; advance our pending capital projects; grow our faculty and support their priorities; implement our Sophomore Summer initiative; help Dean of the College Tom Crady and our students address the need for new social spaces; help recruit the Classes of 2012 and 2013 – and position Dartmouth to continue enrolling and educating the most talented students in higher education. Finally, Susan and I hope always to maximize our time with current students, sharing in their aspirations, being inspired by their accomplishments, and cheering their artistic and athletic endeavors.

By June 2009, I believe we will have made substantial progress on many of the strategic priorities I think most important for Dartmouth.  And, as much as I enjoy serving Dartmouth in my current role, I believe that every institution can benefit from periodic new leadership and fresh ideas. I am announcing my decision now in order to provide the Board with ample time to organize and pursue a search for my successor. I will not be part of the search process but I stand ready to do whatever the Board requests to assist with recruiting Dartmouth’s 17th President.

Beyond June 2009, I plan to spend much of my time continuing my work supporting wounded veterans and encouraging returning servicemen and women, to whom I feel a great sense of gratitude, to pursue higher education. I intend to reacquaint myself with the study of history, and will take some time organizing my papers and archives as well as pursuing some writing projects.  Susan and I will also take the time to catch our breath, enjoy some travel, and spend more than fleeting moments with our seven grandchildren.

For now, Susan is in the midst of an exciting schedule of visitors invited by the Montgomery Endowment, which she directs, and is completing thirty years of service to Dartmouth working with students and encouraging their dreams.

Of course during this time and forever more, Susan and I will do whatever we can to advance the work of this College on the Hill.  That is a story that has no end and a commitment that has neither conditions nor boundaries.

Thanks to so many of you for your personal friendship, energy and encouragement. Over the next 16 months and for the lifetime that will follow, Susan and I look forward to continuing to work with you and expressing our appreciation for all that you do.


James Wright

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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