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>  News Releases >   2009 >   June

'Anonymous' family makes $50 million gift, largest in Dartmouth history; Enables the College to move forward with Visual Arts Center

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 06/12/09 • Media Contact: Roland Adams (603) 646-3661

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James Wright named “President Emeritus”; two charter Trustees appointed; Board invites nominees for two open Board seats; operating and capital budgets approved for fiscal year 2010

The Dartmouth Board of Trustees concluded its Spring meeting on Friday, June 12, as James Wright prepared to preside over his 11th and final Commencement as President at 10 a.m. this Sunday, June 14, 2009.

During the course of their Friday session the Trustees took action in the following areas:

  • Largest gift commitment in Dartmouth’s history, $50 million from a Dartmouth family which wishes to remain anonymous. The Board acknowledged with gratitude this gift that will enable the College to move forward with its planned Visual Arts Center on the south edge of campus.
  • Honoring President James Wright and Susan DeBevoise Wright. Trustees paid tribute to James Wright and Susan DeBevoise Wright at a private dinner on Thursday evening, and by taking four separate actions on Friday:
    — The Board named President Wright “President Emeritus” effective June 30, as he steps down after 11 years as the 16th President of Dartmouth.
    — The Board named Susan DeBevoise Wright as Executive Director of the Montgomery Endowment Emerita. She is retiring June 30 after serving the College for more than 30 years.
    — The Board also voted to create a new named professorship, to be called the Eleazar Wheelock Chair, which would be bestowed upon former Dartmouth presidents who return to the faculty. James Wright will be designated as the first Wheelock Chair, with the title of Eleazar Wheelock Professor of History.
    — The Board also approved an endowed James Wright Professorship, funded by a $3 million grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.
  • Two charter Trustees: Denise M. Dupre ’80 and William W. Helman IV ’80 have been elected to the Board as charter Trustees. They will succeed Russell L. Carson ‘65 and Karen C. Francis ‘84, who will be stepping down this month after ten and nine years on the Board, respectively.
  • Two open Alumni-nominated seats: The Board voted to notify the Alumni Council of vacancies in two alumni Trustee positions, inviting the Council to begin proceedings that will lead to alumni nomination of candidates for those positions.
  • Capital and operating budgets for fiscal 2010: The Board approved budgets as well as endowment distributions for the College's 2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2009.
  • Other Board actions included: Votes on tenures and promotions for the College and professional schools; Awarding of degrees; Appointment of Jose Antonio Ocampo to the Dickey Center Board of Visitors; reappointment of Charles H. Hood ’51 and Barbara Dau Southwell ’78 to the Hood Museum Board of Overseers; and renewals of Frederick B. Whittemore ’53, T’54, and Alan H. Glick ’60, T’61 to the Hopkins Center Board of Overseers.

Board members remaining in Hanover will participate in an array of Commencement activities this weekend.


Largest gift in Dartmouth history

President Wright personally thanked the “Anonymous” family for the record $50 million gift commitment that will enable the College to build a Visual Arts Center.

In an announcement issued Friday, Wright said, “This is a spectacular gift from a family that has given long service to Dartmouth. During these tough economic times, this family’s willingness to make such a gift is truly inspiring. In the early years of my presidency, my colleagues and I set forth a plan to improve specific areas of the physical campus. The Board of Trustees approved this plan, and many contributors have helped to advance it. Our goal was to give students and faculty well-designed and environmentally advanced facilities in which to carry out their work, including this new visual arts center. Arts are at the heart of a liberal arts education, and have always been vital to the Dartmouth experience, empowering students to think creatively, challenge assumptions, and wrestle with demanding and often unfamiliar media. We are honored by this act of generosity which is a formidable endorsement of Dartmouth’s purpose, capacity for excellence, and future promise.”

The family’s commitment is part of the College’s Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, the most ambitious fundraising initiative in Dartmouth’s history. To date, the campaign has achieved a total of $1.217 billion in gifts and commitments.

The largest previous gift to Dartmouth was $25 million donated by John W. Berry ’44 in 1992. It was part of a $30 million combined gift from Berry, his son George Berry ’66, the Loren M. Berry Foundation and George F. Baker III, great-grandson of the donor who made possible the construction of Baker Library in 1926. The combined gift, which was enhanced by further gifts from the same sources that ultimately totaled $35 million, was used to construct Berry Library, which was completed in 2001 and is connected to Baker Library.

Further details of the new gift commitment are in a separate release.

Honoring President James Wright for 40 years of service, and Susan DeBevoise Wright for 30 years of service to Dartmouth

The Board named James Wright as President Emeritus and appointed him to the new Eleazar Wheelock Chair for former Dartmouth presidents who return to the faculty. In making the latter appointment, the Board noted that Wright joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1969 and soon emerged as a leading authority on both the American West and on American political history. Wright has served Dartmouth in a range of administrative capacities as Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, Dean of the Faculty, Acting President, Provost, and President.

The Board also named Susan DeBevoise Wright to Emerita status as she steps down from her position as Executive Director of the Montgomery Foundation. Mrs. Wright arrived in 1978 and has worked in student affairs as counselor and class dean as well as International Student Advisor. As leader of the Montgomery Endowment since 2003, the Board said, “… she ensured the achievement of Kenneth and Harle Montgomery’s vision” by “bringing distinguished individuals to Dartmouth and fully integrating them into the life of the campus.”

The Board also approved the James Wright Professorship, which will be funded by a $3 million grant by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. The endowed professorship will be held by a member of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, without restriction to academic discipline.

Trustees expressed gratitude to the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.

New charter Trustees

Two new charter Trustees, Denise M. Dupre ’80 and William W. Helman IV ’80, will provide additional expertise to help to meet the needs of the College. Dupre and Helman will replace outgoing Board members Russell Carson ’65 and Karen Francis ’84 effective immediately.

Board Chairman Ed Haldeman said, “Denise Dupre and Bill Helman will each bring welcome additional expertise and leadership skills to our mission of keeping Dartmouth a leader in higher education. Both have strong backgrounds in leadership of non-profit organizations as well as in private business that will complement and enhance our existing strengths, and we are extremely pleased to have them joining us.”

Dupre said, “As a student, the first day of freshman trips began a great journey for me. This small College has made a big difference in my life, and I consider service on Dartmouth's Board to be both an honor and a privilege. I am delighted to accept this wonderful opportunity from Dartmouth, for Dartmouth.”

Helman said, “To have the opportunity to serve Dartmouth at this incredibly exciting and important time, helping build on the many accomplishments of Jim Wright and working closely with Jim Kim as he begins his presidency with passion and vision for taking Dartmouth forward is one of the greatest honors I have ever experienced. I am tremendously excited about joining the Board and working to advance Dartmouth.”

Biographical information on new Trustees:

  • Denise DupreDenise Dupre ‘80
    Currently President of the Board of Regents of Mercersburg Academy (Mercersburg, Penn.) as well as a member of the boards of the Charles River School (Dover, Mass.) and the Fessenden School (West Newton, Mass.), Dupre brings to the Dartmouth board extensive experience in leading educational institutions.

    She has held various teaching positions including a teaching fellowship at Cornell and an appointment as associate professor and the director of the School of Hotel Administration at Boston University. Dupre has also worked extensively in the hotel and restaurant field, includingroles in marketing, consulting, and operations for public and private hotel companies.

    Dupre was an economics major at Dartmouth, and earned an M.P.S. at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.  She has been an active volunteer for Dartmouth, serving on the Alumni Council, the President’s Leadership Council and Board of Overseers of the Hanover Inn. She has also been a Reunion Committee Chair and an Alumni Fund Volunteer, and served as president of her class from 1985-1990. She is the oldest of four sisters who attended Dartmouth: Rosi ‘82, Anni ‘83 and Mich ‘89.

  • Bill HelmanWilliam W. Helman IV ‘80
    Bill Helman is a Partner with Greylock, a venture capital firm focused on early stage investments in technology, consumer internet and healthcare. He joined Greylock in 1984 and has been a Managing Partner since 1997. He led Greylock's investments in Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Hyperion, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and UPromise, among others, and today sits on the boards of ZipCar, Reveal Imaging and MusicNation.

    In addition, Helman serves on the Boards of Harvard Management Company, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Steppingstone Foundation. He is also a member of the Board of Overseers at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and chairs the President's Leadership Council at Dartmouth.

    As an undergraduate at Dartmouth, Helman was a history major with a minor in economics. He was president of his senior class. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1980 and from Harvard Business School in 1984.
Two open Alumni-nominated seats

The two open Alumni-nominated seats are being vacated by Michael Chu ’68 and Todd Zywicki ’88, whose terms conclude following Commencement. The Board anticipates that the Alumni Council will conduct nomination elections in the Spring of 2010 and nominate candidates for election by the Board at the conclusion of those elections.

Voting will take place in Spring 2010 under a revised nomination process contained in amendments to the Association of Alumni Constitution approved by alumni in May 2009.

Approval of operating and capital budgets, endowment distributions

For the 2010 fiscal year (July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010), the Board approved an operating budget of $452.3 million for the College, exclusive of the professional schools; operating budgets of $225.5 million, $31.3 million and $62.6 million respectively for Dartmouth Medical School, the Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business; and $92.8 million for new capital projects across the institution.

The Board also approved the estimated distribution from the endowment for FY 2010. The estimated distribution of $187.8 million for operating and non-operating activities is approximately 18 percent lower than the current estimate for FY 2009 ($229 million), as a result of the decline in endowment market value over the past four quarters.

2009 Commencement, keynoted by Native American novelist Louise Erdrich ‘76

Over the next two days, trustees will participate in an array of annual activities surrounding graduation, culminating in Commencement ceremonies on Sunday morning, June 14 on the Dartmouth Green. Novelist Louise Erdrich ’76, a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel “The Plague of Doves”, will be the keynote speaker for the event.

Commencement generally draws as many 13,000 guests to the Dartmouth Green. The College expects to award approximately 1,000 bachelor's degrees and approximately 700 master's and doctoral degrees in the Arts and Sciences and from the College's three professional schools: Dartmouth Medical School, the Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business.

Dartmouth will also present honorary degrees to a distinguished group of seven recipients:

  • John P. Abizaid (Doctor of Laws)
    U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.)
  • Roz Chast (Doctor of Arts)
    Cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine
  • Louise Erdrich (Doctor of Letters)
  • Dr. Raymond B. Johnson, M.D. '59 (Doctor of Science)
    Former Commanding Officer, Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland (retired)
  • Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. (Doctor of Science)
    U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Maria Otero (Doctor of Humane Letters)
    President and CEO of Accion International
  • Bill Russell (Doctor of Humane Letters)
    Retired National Basketball Association star

Other pre-Commencement activities include Class Day exercises for undergraduates, Class Day and Investiture ceremonies for Dartmouth Medical School, the Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business, separate luncheons honoring retiring Trustees and members of the 50-Year Reunion Class, the annual Phi Beta Kappa meeting, commissioning of ROTC graduates the annual Baccalaureate service for all graduates, a reception honoring students involved in public service or religious life and various other events.


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