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New Leadership for Montgomery Endowment

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Richard Stamelman aims to build on program's strengths

Richard Stamelman of Dartmouth's Montgomery House, a tranquil retreat where fellows stay during their residence on campus. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Richard Stamelman wants to make one thing very clear: he knows that he has big shoes to fill as the new executive director of the Montgomery Endowment, which has been under Susan DeBevoise Wright's direction for five years.

"Susan Wright has brought the Montgomery Fellows Program to a level of exposure and quality that it hadn't known before her tenure," says Stamelman. "She has brought an intensity and an attention to detail that are frankly amazing; she's made the fellows feel as welcome here as they possibly could."

Stamelman, a scholar of French and comparative literature, and author of Perfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin: A Cultural History of Fragrance from 1750 to the Present (2006), taught for 25 years at Wesleyan University. There he served as the dean of humanities, director of the Wesleyan Center for the Humanities, and the William R. Kenan Professor of the Humanities.

Following 12 years at Williams College, during part of which he was the director of the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Stamelman moved to the Upper Valley full time to be with his wife, Kate Conley, associate dean of the faculty for the arts and humanities and professor of French.

After teaching comparative literature courses at Dartmouth between 2007 and 2008, he attempted to retire, but was drawn back into academic life by the opportunity to direct the Montgomery Endowment.

In the 30 years since the endowment was created by Kenneth H. Montgomery '25 and his wife Harle (who sits on the program's steering committee), it has brought 175 fellows to Dartmouth, luminaries who have ranged from the novelist and diplomat Carlos Fuentes to musician Sheryl Crow. Nominations for fellows, says Stamelman, can come from any member of the Dartmouth community.

What sets the program apart from other fellowship residencies, says Stamelman, is the degree to which the fellows interact with and educate Dartmouth students. "The program is exemplary, and it shows Dartmouth's commitment to undergraduate education." Student interaction with the fellows can be "career-enhancing, even life-changing," he says, because, when the fellows come to Dartmouth, "they are not only individuals of great achievement but also inspiring presences and thus unforgettable teachers."

Looking ahead, Stamelman says he wants to both continue and expand a program that is already "running 99 percent perfectly." One of his goals, he says, will be to make the program better known to faculty and students.

Also on his priority list is to increase the level of student interaction with the fellows, which can best be accomplished, says Stamelman, by finding more fellows who are willing to stay for a term and teach an undergraduate course. He plans to look at up-and-coming leaders in various fields, particularly the sciences, an area where Stamelman hopes to recruit more fellows.

Stamelman also envisions organizing the selection of future fellows according to broad themes to highlight multidisciplinary approaches to topics like  "Memory" or  "Senses and Sensory Experience." "The themes would need to be contemporary, challenging, and cutting-edge," he says. "They would help create continuity from one term to the next and would address themes in ways that would develop new and creative ideas."

The Montgomery Endowment, says Stamelman, has been called "the jewel of Dartmouth," and he believes the moniker is fitting. "The uniqueness of the endowment is its orientation toward undergraduates-that's what makes the program truly singular."


Fall Term Montgomery Fellow Public Lectures:

Joan Didion, author, essayist, and screenwriter: "An Afternoon with Joan Didion"

Tuesday, October 7, at 4:30 p.m., followed by a book signing

John Abizaid, retired general of the U.S. Army and former commander of the United States Central Command: "The United States and the Middle East: Strategic Choices for the Way Ahead"

Tuesday, October 14,

at 4:30 p.m.

John Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist: "Five Years in Iraq: Which Way Home?"

Tuesday, October 21,
at 4:30 p.m.

All lectures will be held in Filene Auditorium in Moore Hall. Call 646-4062 for information. 


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Last Updated: 12/17/08