Dartmouth Presidency, 1998-2009

A member of the Dartmouth faculty since 1969, James Wright was elected president in 1998. Prior to taking office, he served as Dean of the Faculty, Provost, and Acting President. During his presidency undergraduate applications grew by 78 percent and the student body became increasingly diverse, with students of color and international students representing more than 30 percent of the student body. President Wright focused on advancing the academic strength of the College by expanding and diversifying the faculty; resulting in more than 10 percent growth in the faculty of the Arts & Sciences, an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, and the highest percentage of tenured women faculty in the Ivy League and among the highest percentage of faculty of color.

Spearheading the College's $1.3 billion campaign—the largest fund-raising effort in its history—Wright provided additional resources for faculty support, including the construction of Berry and Rauner Special Collections Libraries, Carson Hall, Moore Hall, Kemeny Hall, and the Haldeman Center. The College also enhanced the out-of-classroom experience by making significant investments in residential and social options and athletic and recreational facilities. During Wright's tenure, both Dartmouth's endowment and annual fundraising more than doubled.

Wright, who served in the Marine Corps before pursuing degrees in history, led the creation and funding of a new educational counseling program for wounded U.S. veterans and helped to draft language for the Yellow Ribbon Program in the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill passed in 2008. He was honored by several national organizations for his efforts to increase educational access for veterans. 

Wright Presidency Speeches

Wright Presidency Initiatives

  • Forever New: A 10-Year Report by President Wright
  • Greenhouse Reduction (October, 2008) - President Wright announces greenhouse gas reduction target.
  • Financial Aid Initiative (January, 2008) - On January 22, 2008, President Wright announced a number of enhancements to the College's financial aid packages for undergraduates, beginning in academic year 2008-09, to ensure that Dartmouth remains accessible to academically talented students regardless of their financial situation.
  • Dartmouth's Mission Statement (May, 2007) - After nearly a year of discussions of the Dartmouth College mission statement and our core values, President Wright unveiled a new mission statement in May of 2007.
  • McKinsey Report on Administrative Support at Dartmouth (April, 2006) - In the fall of 2005, Dartmouth's current administrative structure was reviewed by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, to provide recommendations for how the College might provide administrative support more effectively.
  • Five-Year Report by President James Wright (November, 2003) - President Wright reflects on his first five years in office and sets his priorities for the next five years.
  • Dartmouth's Strategic Plan (August, 2002) - Shortly after his 1998 inauguration, President Wright initiated a planning process to assess the College's condition and to develop a vision to guide the College into the 21st century.