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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Dartmouth College President James Wright will throw out the first pitch at Boston’s Fenway Park to kick off a Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers baseball game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, 2009.
As Wright prepares to step down from the Dartmouth presidency after 11 years in that position and 40 years at the College, the Red Sox are honoring his leadership of Dartmouth and his leadership in helping military veterans attend college. Dartmouth alumni, including Michael McClintock, Class of 1980, and James Beattie, Class of 1976, first suggested the idea to the Red Sox and helped to arrange a date for the event.
Among sports fans, especially in New England, this is an honor like no other. Fenway Park is the oldest stadium in baseball and the Red Sox, who have won two World Series in the past five years, have sold out every home game since mid-May of 2003, a Major League Baseball record. Wright says: “The Red Sox are a remarkable institution and I admire their rich history, excellence on and off the field, and the commitment of their fans. This will be a memorable honor.” Massachusetts’ Senator Ted Kennedy threw out the pitch on opening day on April 7.
Wright says that his wife Susan DeBevoise Wright has been graciously serving as his “battery mate” as he practices throwing the 60-foot 6-inch pitch in the yard of his Webster Avenue house. “Of course I want to throw a strike,” he says.
When Wright walks out to the mound in front of the 30,000 plus fans, he will be wearing a Dartmouth cap and a Wounded Warrior Regiment shirt given to him by U.S. Marine Colonel Greg Boyle of Quantico, Virginia. Boyle is the commanding officer of the regiment, which was created in 2007 to offer support services to wounded Marines and their families across the country. "Colonel Boyle is a good friend, and he is committed to supporting our wounded veterans and treating them with respect," says Wright. "He is also a Manchester, N.H. native and a self-described 'diehard' Red Sox fan!"
Wright graduated from high school in Galena, Ill., and served three years in the U.S. Marines before attending college and becoming a professor of history at Dartmouth in 1969. After following reports from the Iraq War, he began visiting wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2005 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Since then he has personally spoken to and corresponded with dozens of veterans about how they can continue their education, and the value they bring to an educational institution.
On the national stage, Wright worked with Senators Jim Webb [D-Va.], John Warner [R-Va.] and Chuck Hagel [R-Neb.] as they crafted the new G.I. Bill, which passed in June 2008. Wright’s input focused on the role private colleges can play in increasing the enrollment of veterans. “It is not enough to sit back passively and expect veterans to come to us,” Wright told a group of college leaders at a National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities meeting on Feb. 2, 2009. (To learn more see Wright’s speech).
Wright has been nationally recognized for his efforts, including by The New York Times, ABC News World News Tonight, and Newsweek magazine. In 2007 he was named a “New Englander of the Year” by the New England Council, and he received a Semper Fidelis award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in 2008. His work has indirectly led to veterans studying at Dartmouth, where 9 veterans are currently enrolled as undergraduates and there is a student group, the Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association.
A devoted baseball fan, Wright remembers taking the four-hour train with his grandfather to watch the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park (his favorite player was Minnie Minoso). After joining the military Wright stopped following the sport closely, but he remembers the Red Sox bringing him back to the game on a Saturday afternoon in October of 1975. “I was listening to them play Oakland in the playoffs and the game was captivating,” he says. “I went downstairs to watch them on television, and I’ve been watching ever since.” He’s collected a fair amount of baseball memorabilia over the years, including this month, when he received a David Ortiz jersey from the Dartmouth Alumni Club of Boston. Ortiz signed the jersey: “To Jim W. Go Big Green.”
During his tenure as President of Dartmouth, Wright has markedly enhanced the overall academic and student experience by increasing the cultural and economic diversity of the student body, expanding the size of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and increasing the amount of financial aid available to students. Applications to Dartmouth have grown more than 60 percent over his tenure. Wright has revitalized the campus through the construction of new facilities, and the endowment has doubled since 1998.
Tickets to the game may be available by calling 1-877-REDSOX9.
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Last Updated: 2/18/10