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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Posted 02/04/08
February 4, 2008
Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,
Jim Wright has informed the Board of Trustees of his intention to step down as Dartmouth’s President in June 2009. For Jim, this will mark a total of 11 years as President and 40 years at the College, which also included distinguished service as a Professor of History, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Provost.
Throughout that time, Jim has been a tireless advocate for Dartmouth. Jim’s passion and vision have helped Dartmouth build on its rich and unique heritage to remain the pre-eminent undergraduate liberal arts college in the country, while becoming an even more vibrant and diverse community of learning and scholarship.
Jim’s leadership has strengthened Dartmouth in many ways. He spearheaded efforts to enhance the student and academic experience – strengthening interdisciplinary studies, expanding off-campus programs, keeping Dartmouth at the forefront of using technology in the classroom and expanding both undergraduate and professional school faculty. His commitment to undergraduate education helped significantly lower the student-faculty ratio and raise student satisfaction to an all-time high.
During Jim’s tenure, Dartmouth attracted a record number of applicants. The class of 2011 is one of the most talented and diverse in Dartmouth history. Jim also made it a personal priority to ensure that Dartmouth could attract superb students without regard for their financial means by more than doubling the amount of money we spend on undergraduate financial aid
As anyone walking around campus can attest, Jim also presided over a dramatic revitalization of our facilities. More than a billion dollars will have been invested in new and renovated buildings during his presidency. This has included nine new dormitories as well as spectacular new academic centers, social spaces, and sports facilities.
Finally, Jim has worked tirelessly to ensure that Dartmouth has a strong financial foundation on which to continue pursuing its mission. Jim and Susan’s constant travels for Dartmouth have helped the College to double both our annual fundraising and the College’s endowment, which now stands at $3.75 billion. The progress in this area was highlighted by two recent milestones: December proved to be the best month of fundraising in Dartmouth’s long history, and in January, the College announced that we had raised more than $1 billion toward the $1.3 billion goal of the “Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience.”
It won’t surprise anyone who knows Jim that he still has much he intends to accomplish at Dartmouth. His ambitious goals for the remainder of his presidency include the successful completion of the capital campaign, further expansion in the size and quality of the faculty, breaking ground on the new dining hall to replace Thayer, the Class of 1953 Commons at the McLaughlin Cluster, the Visual Arts Center, and the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, and a variety of initiatives to continue enhancing the student and academic experience.
Finding the best possible person to build on Jim’s legacy at Dartmouth will obviously be a top priority for the Board in the coming year, and we will discuss the search process at our next meeting in March. I will provide you with more information on the search process following the board meeting, but I can assure you that hearing the views of faculty, staff, students, and alumni will be a critically important part of the search process.
Both Jim and Susan – who herself has served Dartmouth for nearly thirty years, including in her current role as the Director of the Montgomery Endowment – have enriched Dartmouth and generations of students in countless ways big and small. On behalf of the Board and the entire Dartmouth community, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to Jim and Susan for all they have done and continue to do for Dartmouth and its students. Jim’s tenure is not over – and his legacy has not been written – but both are as strong and vibrant as Dartmouth is today.
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.