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Memorial Service for James O. Freedman

Gathering in remembrance of former Dartmouth president to be held Monday, May 15
James O. Freedman
James O. Freedman 1935 - 2006 (Photo courtesy of Dartmouth College Library)

A memorial service for James O. Freedman, President Emeritus of Dartmouth, will be held Monday, May 15 at 2 p.m. in Rollins Chapel, with a reception to follow in the Top of the Hop. All are welcome to attend.

Mr. Freedman was Dartmouth's 15th president, from 1987 to 1998. He died on March 21 at his home in Cambridge, Mass., after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. A native of Manchester, N.H., he graduated from Harvard College cum laude in 1957, and from Yale University Law School in 1962. After a clerkship with then-U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thurgood Marshall, Mr. Freedman became an associate for the New York law firm of Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison.

His career in academic leadership began in 1979 when he was named dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 1982 he was appointed president of the University of Iowa, leading that institution for five years. He joined the Wheelock Succession of Dartmouth presidents in 1987. Mr. Freedman's administration was marked by numerous academic initiatives, including the first overhaul of the curriculum in over 70 years; the most successful capital campaign in Dartmouth's history, "The Will to Excel"; the achievement of gender parity in the student body; and an increase in the number of women among tenured and tenure-track faculty that established Dartmouth as a leader in the Ivy League. During his presidency, the College's endowment surpassed the $1 billion mark and its valued policy of need-blind admissions continued.

At Mr. Freedman's March 23 funeral at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, Mass., President Wright said, "His passion for learning, for liberal learning, for discovery, these things always shaped his administration. Dartmouth's distinguished reputation today stands as a tribute to his vision."

Mr. Freedman was the author of three books, Crisis and Legitimacy: The Administrative Process and American Government (1978), Idealism and Liberal Education (1996), and Liberal Education and the Public Interest (2003). His memoirs are forthcoming from Princeton University Press. During his tenure and in the years since, Mr. Freedman was an impassioned voice in a range of forums and a respected advocate for liberal education, equal opportunity and affirmative action, and for the need for university leaders to find their voices in the public sphere.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Bathsheba A. Freedman Scholarship Fund at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College Gift Recording Office, Hanover, NH 03755; the oncology department at the Massachusetts General Hospital in care of the Development Office, 165 Cambridge St., Boston, MA 02114; or the American Jewish Committee, 165 East 56th St., New York, N.Y. 10022.

Mr. Freedman's obituary can be found at

The full text of President Wright's eulogy can be found at


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Last Updated: 12/17/08