In a blitz this morning from Ed Haldeman, chair of the Board of Trustees, James Wright announced he was stepping down as president in June 2009:
February 4, 2008
I am writing to let you know that I have informed the Board of Trustees of my intention
to step down as President of Dartmouth in June of 2009, following commencement and
reunions. By that time, I will have been at Dartmouth for 40 years as both a faculty
member and administrator - having served as Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as
Provost, and, since 1998, as the 16th President of the College. It has been an extraordinary
experience that I shall always cherish, and a true privilege about which I feel a profound
sense of humility.
At this moment, I am filled with rich memories - memories jarred by the quick passage
of time and marked by the good fortune I feel. They are memories of the students in my
history classes with whom I have learned, the faculty colleagues who bring to this
College a remarkable commitment to teaching and research, the dedicated staff and
administrators who daily contribute to the strength of Dartmouth, alumni and alumnae
whose loyalty and support of our College are legendary, and this current generation of
students who daily energize me - and Dartmouth - anew. I am continually inspired by
memories of Presidents Dickey, Kemeny, McLaughlin, and Freedman. And, I am grateful
to the Trustees with whom I have served; they are remarkably generous and selfless
contributors to the work of the College.
But between now and June of 2009, I do not intend to dwell on memory - as enjoyable as
that is. There is still much to do. Over the next months I will work to achieve the goals of
the "Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience"; advance our pending capital projects;
grow our faculty and support their priorities; implement our Sophomore Summer
initiative; help Dean of the College Tom Crady and our students address the need for new
social spaces; help recruit the Classes of 2012 and 2013 - and position Dartmouth to
continue enrolling and educating the most talented students in higher education. Finally,
Susan and I hope always to maximize our time with current students, sharing in their
aspirations, being inspired by their accomplishments, and cheering their artistic and
By June 2009, I believe we will have made substantial progress on many of the strategic
priorities I think most important for Dartmouth. And, as much as I enjoy serving
Dartmouth in my current role, I believe that every institution can benefit from periodic
new leadership and fresh ideas. I am announcing my decision now in order to provide the
Board with ample time to organize and pursue a search for my successor. I will not be
part of the search process but I stand ready to do whatever the Board requests to assist
with recruiting Dartmouth's 17th President.
Beyond June 2009, I plan to spend much of my time continuing my work supporting
wounded veterans and encouraging returning servicemen and women, to whom I feel a
great sense of gratitude, to pursue higher education. I intend to reacquaint myself with the
study of history, and will take some time organizing my papers and archives as well as
pursuing some writing projects. Susan and I will also take the time to catch our breath,
enjoy some travel, and spend more than fleeting moments with our seven grandchildren.
For now, Susan is in the midst of an exciting schedule of visitors invited by the
Montgomery Endowment, which she directs, and is completing thirty years of service to
Dartmouth working with students and encouraging their dreams.
Of course during this time and forever more, Susan and I will do whatever we can to
advance the work of this College on the Hill. That is a story that has no end and a
commitment that has neither conditions nor boundaries.
Thanks to so many of you for your personal friendship, energy and encouragement. Over
the next 16 months and for the lifetime that will follow, Susan and I look forward to
continuing to work with you and expressing our appreciation for all that you do.
February 4, 2008
Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,
Jim Wright has informed the Board of Trustees of his intention to step down as
Dartmouth's President in June 2009. For Jim, this will mark a total of 11 years as
President and 40 years at the College, which also included distinguished service as a
Professor of History, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Provost.
Throughout that time, Jim has been a tireless advocate for Dartmouth. Jim's passion and
vision have helped Dartmouth build on its rich and unique heritage to remain the pre-
eminent undergraduate liberal arts college in the country, while becoming an even more
vibrant and diverse community of learning and scholarship.
Jim's leadership has strengthened Dartmouth in many ways. He spearheaded efforts to
enhance the student and academic experience - strengthening interdisciplinary studies,
expanding off-campus programs, keeping Dartmouth at the forefront of using technology
in the classroom and expanding both undergraduate and professional school faculty. His
commitment to undergraduate education helped significantly lower the student-faculty
ratio and raise student satisfaction to an all-time high.
During Jim's tenure, Dartmouth attracted a record number of applicants. The class of 2011 is
one of the most talented and diverse in Dartmouth history. Jim also made it a personal
priority to ensure that Dartmouth could attract superb students without regard for their
financial means by more than doubling the amount of money we spend on undergraduate
As anyone walking around campus can attest, Jim also presided over a dramatic
revitalization of our facilities. More than a billion dollars will have been invested in new
and renovated buildings during his presidency. This has included nine new dormitories as
well as spectacular new academic centers, social spaces, and sports facilities.
Finally, Jim has worked tirelessly to ensure that Dartmouth has a strong financial
foundation on which to continue pursuing its mission. Jim and Susan's constant travels for
Dartmouth have helped the College to double both our annual fundraising and the
College's endowment, which now stands at $3.75 billion. The progress in this area was
highlighted by two recent milestones: December proved to be the best month of
fundraising in Dartmouth's long history, and in January, the College announced that we
had raised more than $1 billion toward the $1.3 billion goal of the "Campaign for the
It won't surprise anyone who knows Jim that he still has much he intends to accomplish at
Dartmouth. His ambitious goals for the remainder of his presidency include the successful
completion of the capital campaign, further expansion in the size and quality of the faculty,
breaking ground on the new dining hall to replace Thayer, the Class of 1953 Commons at
the McLaughlin Cluster, the Visual Arts Center, and the Class of 1978 Life Sciences
Center, and a variety of initiatives to continue enhancing the student and academic
Finding the best possible person to build on Jim's legacy at Dartmouth will obviously be a
top priority for the Board in the coming year, and we will discuss the search process at our
next meeting in March. I will provide you with more information on the search process
following the board meeting, but I can assure you that hearing the views of faculty, staff,
students, and alumni will be a critically important part of the search process.
Both Jim and Susan - who herself has served Dartmouth for nearly thirty years, including
in her current role as the Director of the Montgomery Endowment - have enriched
Dartmouth and generations of students in countless ways big and small. On behalf of the
Board and the entire Dartmouth community, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation
to Jim and Susan for all they have done and continue to do for Dartmouth and its students.
Jim's tenure is not over - and his legacy has not been written - but both are as strong and
vibrant as Dartmouth is today.
Ed Haldeman '70