Biography

James WrightJames Wright, President Emeritus and Eleazar Wheelock Professor of History Emeritus at Dartmouth College, joined the Dartmouth College history department in 1969. 

Wright earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Wisconsin State University, Platteville in 1964 and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1969.  For over 40 years he taught many Dartmouth students in the U.S. History survey course and in his courses in American political history and the history of the American West.  

At Dartmouth, among many other committee responsibilities, he chaired two curriculum review committees. He held the positions of Dean of the Social Sciences, Dean of the Faculty, and Provost. And from 1998 to 2009 Wright was the 16th President of Dartmouth. Wright has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Charles Warren fellow at Harvard University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

James Wright has served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Board of Directors and the College Board Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education. He was a member of a committee on civics education in New Hampshire and chaired  and served on committees for the Western History Association and the Organization of American Historians. He served as Senior Historian on a project on the History of the Great Plains for Public Television. He was on the board of the Kimball Union Academy and the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and chaired reaccreditation committees for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Wright is the author or editor of seven books. Following his service as Dartmouth president, he has taught history department seminars and returned to his work as a historian, publishing Those Who Have Borne the Battle: A History of America’s Wars and Those Who Fought Them in 2012 and Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and Its War in 2017. The latter was a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize Book Award. He has lectured widely and written over 20 op-eds and essays on war and veterans of war. In May 2022 Brandeis University Press will publish his book, War and American Life: Reflections on Those Who Serve and Sacrifice.

The son of a World War II veteran, James Wright joined the Marine Corps in 1957 at the age of 17. Since 2005 he has been working to support veterans. In that year he started visiting wounded service men and women in the nation’s military hospitals, encouraging them to continue their education. He made more than 30 trips to the hospitals over the next several years. He raised funds for a counseling program at Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. In 2008, he collaborated with senators on the post-9/11 GI Bill, working to develop the Yellow Ribbon program.  

He has been recognized for this service by the Secretary of the Army, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Commander in Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as being honored by ABC-TV as a “Person of the Week,” and by the New England Council as a New Englander of the Year.   He has served on the Board of the Semper Fi Fund and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He is currently on the Advisory Board of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and is serving on the external review committee for Academic Programs at the United States Military Academy.

James Wright and his wife Susan DeBevoise Wright live in Hanover, NH.