Monday, February 04, 2008

President Wright to Step Down in June 2009

Ed Haldeman '70 just sent out a community-wide blitz with the following letter from President Wright:

Dear Friends,

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 athletic endeavors.

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.


James Wright


Anonymous said...

Now the real fight begins...

Will Wright be able to muscle the Board into accepting his protégé, Dean of the Faculty Carol Folt, as the next President, or will the Trustees realize that alumni discontent stems from the lack of leadership shown by Wright, Folt Scherr, etc. and that a President is needed who will set a new course for the College.

Stay tuned...

John Bruce said...

The timing here is interesting, since the alumni association lawsuit is still unresolved. Dartmouth Presidents have typically retired at or before 65, so Wright has been pushing it a bit -- but there had been no declaration of intention beyond a letter last year where he said he enjoyed his job and expected to be in it for quite a while longer.

I'm wondering if the Board has somehow been involved over the past months in easing the dude out. Bottom line, they've got to make peace.

Anonymous said...

Most Ivy League President's serve for tens years +/- 1yr, so this is not surprising (Wright started in sept '98).
Dartmouth has a trend in choosing president's of alternating between outsiders and insiders. Wright was an insider. Freedman an outsider. McLoughlin an insider etc. Its time for an outsider (which Folt is not). The board doesn't have many academics on it right now--its pretty business heavy...look for them to choose someone from their own mold. Unlikely to be purely business, but maybe some combo of business/academic (like a larry summers type background, minus the asberger's syndrome).

Anonymous said...

The Board is laughing at Frank's silly lawsuit the way an elephant laughs at a fly. To suggest that the Board wants to "make peace" with alumni, and especially that it would do it by pushing out Wright, it truly idiotic. It doesn't pass the straight-face test, it's a conspiracy theory. The lawsuit will be dismissed within a few days and the whole episode will be a footnote in the history of the Board.

It's hard to say whether the Board will pick Folt, but it's a safe bet that the next president will be a woman. No school wants to be the last in the Ivy League to appoint a female president, and it's getting down to the wire.

DartBored said...

Hank Paulson will be looking for a job around then.

Anonymous said...

In fact, it is probably BECAUSE the court will rule to DENY the College's Motion to Dismiss the AoA's lawsuit that Wright chose (or the Board encouraged Wright) to resign now - and therefore avoid resigning later under a cloud.

If the judge denies the Motion to Dismiss, then he'll probably grant a request for an injunction, and the Board-packing plan will be on hold for several years.

Anonymous said...

It is true that announcing now is better than announcing after the court's decision, whatever it will be.

The court is unlikely to deny the motion to dismiss, however. Even if the judge denies the motion, he is not likely to grant an injunction. To survive the motion, the alumni have to show any evidence that supports their claim and lets them keep their hat in the ring. But to get an injunction, the alumni have to show that they are substantially likely to succeed at trial. That is much different.

Anonymous said...

The judge has indeed denied the motion, but that does not change the high standard for injunctions.

John Bruce said...

But consider this: according to Joe's Dartblog, the parties were made aware of the judge's decision on Friday. So the following Monday, Wright announces his retirement, 16 months early. This isn't timing?

Whether the judge now grants the injunction is less of an issue, since the alumni lawsuit will continue as a nuisance to the College. My guess is the Wright announcement is a first step toward settling the lawsuit.

Not for nothing did the Valley News editorialize that the SLI continues to have repercussions. Over the past several months, concurrent with the suit, the new Dean has been playing kissyface with the Greeks -- now Wright is a short-timer.

Anonymous said...

But consider this: according to Joe's Dartblog, the parties were made aware of the judge's decision on Friday. So the following Monday, Wright announces his retirement, 16 months early. This isn't timing?

Further, consider this: Dartmouth is in New England. Thursday, Arlen Specter raised the Spygate issue and suggested that it's not over. Sunday, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl in a huge upset. So the following Monday, Wright announces his retirement, 16 months early. This isn't timing?

Also, Westside Buffet shut down for good almost exactly nine years ago.

The Man is Still out to get me. said...

For quite some time, all signs have pointed to Wright stepping down at the end of the current capital campaign. This is fairly consistent behavoir for university presidents, particularly those who have served 10 or so years. If he really wanted to make peace with the dissenters, he would step down at the end of the year. But if you want to believe that his retirement and recent developments in the lawsuit have any relation to each other, John, then I've got a bridge I'd love to sell you.

John Bruce said...

". . . all signs have pointed to Wright stepping down at the end of the current capital campaign." And what signs are those? About a year ago, he sent a letter to the Dartmouth community saying he enjoyed his job and intended to stay in it indefinitely. In that, he pretty specifically said he meant to contradict anyone who said it would be important to elect Stephen Smith to the Board, since that Board would then select Wright's successor. But in fact, this appears to be the case.

Thinker 1993 said...

So, the ideal candidate should be an outsider - perhaps from outside academia - but pro-College and alumni-friendly. A va-jay-jay would help.

So, perhaps a Dartmouth alumna with a proven success record in the private sector?

Anonymous said...

From A Community Letter from President James Wright
February 28, 2007

"Some people have claimed that one of the new trustee's assignments will be to elect the next president. This statement will likely prove to be correct — someday. For now though, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my retirement are premature. While I may look my age, I am not yet ready to act it. In my thirty-eighth year at Dartmouth, I have things yet to do and I enjoy immensely doing them. So let us hold off on the transition planning."

BUT: in today's D:

"Ed Haldeman ‘70, chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees, told The Dartmouth that discussions surrounding Wright’s departure began in late fall of 2007."

I guess that ol' Jim did not enjoy things all that immensely, or maybe the Trustees told him that there were more important things than his enjoyment!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Excellent detective work! In February of 2007, Wright said he didn't feel like retiring, but that fall he did start talking about it!!! This is a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top!

Anonymous said...

What a curious analysis of human nature! Either Wright changed his mind over the summer, or he was pushed out. Your choice.....

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to understand what happened.

Like so many fired chief execs in industry, Jim suddenly decided that he wanted to spend more time with his family. How nice.

Anonymous said...

Because we all know that Jim Wright is immortal, not past retirement age, and has spent less time (eleven years) than most college presidents at his job! It can't be a coincidence that he actually retires within 18 months of the court permitting the lawsuit to survive!