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Fond Farewell

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Members of the Dartmouth community who gathered on the Green May 20 learned that President James Wright and Susan DeBevoise Wright have together served Dartmouth for 71 years. That President Wright has presided over the tenure, promotion, or reappointment of 84 percent of current faculty members. That he was once a young professor whose students thought he was really cool (but tough). And that the Wrights have hosted enough ice cream socials to serve about 25,000 people.

Jim and Susan Wright
Jim and Susan Wright President James Wright and Susan DeBevoise Wright with well-wishers on the Green during the May 20 Community Farewell. (Photo by Kawakahi Kaeo Amina '09)

Even more were added to that count as students, alumni, faculty, and staff recognized the Wrights for their service to the College and wished them farewell. President Wright will step down on June 30, 2009, after 40 years at Dartmouth. (Click here to read about President Wright's Enduring Legacy.) President-elect Dr. Jim Yong Kim takes office on July 1.

President Wright remarked, "This is a wonderful place that embraces you and brings you in. But more than a place, it is a sense of community. You make it harder for us to walk away," he said, but knowing that the College is in good hands, "you also make it easier."

Amy Cholnoky '77 recalled first meeting President Wright as a student in his now-famous history course on the American West, and later serving on the search committee that appointed him president. "Despite all he has achieved, I'll always think of him first and foremost as a teacher, and the lessons go far beyond the classroom," she said.

"I think of [the Wrights] as the heart and soul of Dartmouth," said Professor Carol Folt, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, noting that President Wright has the "admiration, affection, and immense respect of the faculty."

Former Student Assembly President Molly Bode '09 encouraged all to sign the guestbook pages, which will be presented to the Wrights. Farzeen Mahmud '12's entry read: "Thank you for providing Dartmouth all that you have, for it has been, for me, the best and most necessary experience of my life."

Guest BookMembers of the Dartmouth community penned hundreds of messages to the Wrights on guest book pages at the Community Farewell. (Photo by Kawakahi Kaeo Amina '09)

The duties that come with being Dartmouth's "first partner" are staggering, as Skip Sturman '70, director of Career Services, explained. Sturman pointed to Susan's dedication as an advisor to students and "consummate good will ambassador" for Dartmouth.

Susan Wright gave an emotional address, speaking of the "privilege of working at Dartmouth" for so many years. "The Green connects us all. I will always imagine everyone crossing the Green towards a wonderful future," she said.

Noting that he was only allowed two minutes to deliver his remarks, Nelson Armstrong '71, special assistant to the vice president for Institutional Diversity & Equity, said, "I don't know how to give two minutes justice, so I'll just say two words. Thank you."


Last Updated: 5/27/09