History of the Program

History of the Chair

In 1987, Dartmouth College and the Federal Republic of Germany signed an agreement establishing what was first called the German-Dartmouth Distinguished Visiting Professorship. It remains in structure a unique joint undertaking and is designed to bring German scholars and professionals from all fields to teach and/or participate in research at Dartmouth. It is administered by the Dean of Faculty Office and is independent from the Department of German Studies.

Harris Meeting

(Photo caption: Then-Dean of Faculty James Wright, later President of Dartmouth, meeting with Rita Süssmuth, then President of the Bundestag, in 1997 on the 10th anniversary of the chair. To the left are Walter Picard and his wife, Gisela.)



About the Endowed Chair

This endowed chair was initiated by Walter Picard, a former member of the German Bundestag who was long active in the field of United States-German cultural relations and had spent a term at Dartmouth in 1983 as the Max Kade Visiting Professor in the Department of German Studies.

Through his efforts, the professorship was funded by the German government (as voted by the Bundestag) for the first ten years, while Dartmouth College deposited matching monies in an endowment account. At the end of this period, the fund had grown to a size sufficient to make the professorship self-supporting. Its continuation was secured in 1991, when William P. and Dewilda N. Harris agreed to fund the endowment.

Mr. Harris was a Dartmouth alumnus, and both he and his wife (both since deceased) had extensive experience with, and interest in, United States-German relations, since both served for a number of years in Germany as U.S. Foreign Service Officers after World War II. In appreciation for their generosity, the title of the program was changed to the "William P. and Dewilda N. Harris German-Dartmouth Distinguished Professorship." To honor the role of Walter Picard in founding the professorship, the annual "Walter Picard Lecture" was established at the same time.