This week Dartmouth College will see a change at the top. Jim Wright, president for the last decade, will turn over the administration to Jim Yong Kim. It has been a decade of building and change at the Ivy League school, which is an economic engine in the Upper Valley.
"No one in my family had gone to college," Wright said. "And I had never taken it seriously... going into the Marines after high school was one way of delaying going into the mines or working for John Deere or the Kraft cheese plant."
And yet in the treasure room of Baker Library, Jim Wright talked about his lifetime at Dartmouth College, where he began 40 years ago as a professor of history.
"I'm a student of history... American history," Wright said. "I think I've had a fascination with history even when I was in elementary school. I recall loving history and reading history texts and there was a story which I found fascinating and enjoyable and I just liked to read history."
Marselis Parsons: People talk of the legacy of (Dartmouth Presidents) John Sloan Dickey, of the legacy of John Kemeny... what's the legacy of Jim Wright?
Wright: Well remember, I'm an historian and historians know that individuals do NOT get to write their own legacies. Someone else will do that. But there's no doubt that people are already talking a great deal about the facilities we built in my administration. We've done a lot and I'm very proud of that. I'm proud of the way in which we continued to make the campus whole... that aesthetically they fit... that we've dealt with long standing issues that relate to residential life; the library, academics, the laboratories, and for athletic facilities, and so we dealt with that. But I hope that we can really talk about trying to expand the faculty. People think that Dartmouth is really a place whose culture, whose values really encourage close student faculty interaction. And I think more faculty only enables us to do that more effectively. And finally I believe in accessibility. I believe that a school like Dartmouth needs to be available to the very best students, in the country... in the world... without looking at whether they can afford to come here.
Under Jim Wright, Dartmouth waived tuition for any student whose family makes less than $75,000.
We will have more of that interview with Jim Wright on his last day as President Tuesday on the Channel 3 News at 6 p.m.
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