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Forever New

The Speeches of James Wright, President of Dartmouth College, 1998–2009

James Wright

Publication Year: 2012

The collected speeches of Dartmouth’s sixteenth president Jim Wright is an unabashed optimist. Reading his speeches, it doesn’t take long to see that he believes in the fundamental values that shaped the American republic: opportunity and accessibility, individuality and a shared sense of community. He carried this idealism into his presidency of Dartmouth College and, indeed, throughout his career as teacher and historian. At heart, Jim Wright was always a teacher. His election to the presidency of Dartmouth College gave him the opportunity not only to lead the college he loved, but also to use the presidency as a bully pulpit to encourage his students to make a positive difference in the world. The speeches gathered in this collection, particularly the annual convocation and commencement addresses, illustrate that calling. It is in these addresses that he was the most intentional about his goals and his aspirations for Dartmouth, for the Dartmouth faculty, and ultimately for Dartmouth students.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

I had the great privilege of working with President Wright as his chief of staff during most of his presidency. These were years of enormous professional satisfaction and growth for me as I learned so much from Jim, and so this undertaking—the compilation of some of his speeches—was...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xxiv

Jim Wright is an unabashed optimist. As his speeches reveal, he believes in the fundamental values that shaped the American republic— opportunity and accessibility, individuality and a shared sense of community. He carried this idealism into his presidency of Dartmouth College and, indeed...

Part I: Appointment as President of Dartmouth College

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Remarks Following the Announcement by the Board of Trustees, April 6, 1998

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pp. 3-9

As Yogi Berra, one of the sages to whom I regularly turn, said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I take it with pleasure. Following my discussion with the trustees this weekend and now being here, at this place, this afternoon, with friends and colleagues, and reflecting upon the...

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Dartmouth: Forever New, September 23, 1998

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pp. 10-20

President McLaughlin and President Freedman, my fellow Dartmouth Trustees, Professor [John Hope] Franklin, Assembly President [Josh] Green, colleagues from the faculty, staff, and administration, graduates, honored guests, Dartmouth students, good friends and neighbors: It is...

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Part II: Convocation Addresses, 1999-2008

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pp. 21-23

Greetings! It has been my practice on this happy occasion to remind the community that even at an institution that operates around the year and around the world, there needs be a time and a place for us to gather, symbolically, to mark a new beginning. Today we assemble here in the annual...

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September 21, 1999

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pp. 24-30

. . . We convene today for an important ritual, one rooted deep in the traditions of the academy and of Dartmouth. Convocation marks the annual renewal of the academic year. It is a time for us to welcome incoming students— the Class of 2003, as well as new graduate and professional school...

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September 19, 2000

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pp. 31-34

. . . . Convocation serves as a symbolic occasion, one that officially marks a new academic year in Dartmouth’s long and venerable history. But it also serves a specific purpose: we gather this morning to greet our newest class and to welcome them to this place of learning. Members of the Class...

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September 24, 2001

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pp. 35-39

. . . . On behalf of the college, I am especially delighted to greet here the members of the Class of 2005. Having already shaken your hands at matriculation, I recognize you as old friends. And I’m honored to salute you as the largest class in the history of Dartmouth College—a distinction...

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September 24, 2002

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pp. 40-45

. . . . It is a special pleasure to welcome the Class of 2006. We are delighted that you are at Dartmouth. Each of you is here because of who you are, what you have accomplished, what you promise to accomplish, and the sort of person you are. We invited you as an individual, and it is as an individual...

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September 23, 2003

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pp. 46-53

. . . . It is my particular privilege formally to extend Dartmouth’s welcome to the members of the Class of 2007. While I have had the opportunity to greet each of you individually, this ceremonial occasion closes the time of transition for you and invites your lifetime commitment to the good...

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September 21, 2004

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pp. 54-59

. . . . It is my particular privilege formally to extend Dartmouth’s welcome to the members of the Class of 2008. While I have had the opportunity to greet each of you individually, this ceremonial occasion closes the time of transition for you and invites you to enter upon a lifetime commitment to...

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September 20, 2005

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pp. 60-64

. . . . This morning, we share in a ritual that is as ancient as the academy at a place that is older than the Republic, and here we extend to the first-year members of this community an embrace that will be as enduring as the granite of the North Country. Members of the Class of 2009: Welcome...

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September 19, 2006

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pp. 65-69

. . . . Our shared welcome today focuses particularly on the Class of 2010. We have been waiting eagerly for your arrival since last spring, and your presence here affirms the high expectations we have for you. You will make a good place the better, and that is perhaps the most that we can...

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September 25, 2007

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pp. 70-73

. . . . I would like to welcome the Class of 2011 to Dartmouth. A few days ago in my office at your matriculation I told you how pleased we are that you have joined this community of learning, this community of warm and enduring friendships. And I am especially proud to welcome here the...

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September 23, 2008

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pp. 74-78

. . . Today I want to talk about leadership, not only about the qualities of leadership needed in this, your century, but also about your responsibilities to exercise leadership in a world that desperately needs it, and why leadership is rooted in a liberal arts education. Over the next six weeks...

Part III: Selected Speeches on Various Topics, 1999-2009

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Address to First-Year Students, September 15, 1999

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pp. 81-85

Welcome to Dartmouth. . . . We were impressed early on by the Class of 2003. As the class formed last spring it was clear you would be a special group. And over the last ten days you have begun to display your creativity, your abilities, your tremendous energy. But while we celebrate you collectively...

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Report to the General Faculty, October 18, 1999

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pp. 86-93

This annual occasion provides the president and the faculties a valuable opportunity to reflect upon some of the things that we have undertaken and some of the opportunities that we share. The exercise of working through these things and discussing them with you in this hall is an important...

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Class of 1950 Reunion Luncheon, June 10, 2000

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pp. 94-97

. . . . The return of the fiftieth reunion class is always a particularly special moment in the annual life of the college. . . . When you matriculated in 1946 you were the second largest class in Dartmouth history; four years later, you were the largest graduating class. More than half of the students...

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Libraries in the Cyber Age, July 12, 2000

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pp. 98-105

I am delighted to be here at Colby-Sawyer College today. . . . By training and disposition I am a historian and not a cyber specialist of any sort. So those who seek guided tours of the evolving digital world will be disappointed. My guided tours include history lessons. I am not a library specialist...

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Growing and Preserving: A Mutual Challenge, November 6, 2000

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pp. 106-108

I had the opportunity recently to share my thoughts on the relationship between Town and College with members of the Howe Library Corporation. Those thoughts touched on over 230 years of interrelationship between Dartmouth and the wider community, as well as some of Dartmouth’s...

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Remarks to the Alumni Council, May 18, 2001

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pp. 109-113

I am very pleased to be with you once again for this semi annual update on the state of the college. It is always a pleasure to welcome alumni— former students and long- time friends—back to Hanover. . . . This year marks the 200th anniversary of the graduation of Daniel Webster, and...

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Address Delivered at Beijing Normal University, October 10, 2002

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pp. 114-120

I am deeply honored to be here today and to receive the award of Honorary Professor from such a distinguished university. It is a privilege for me to extend congratulations on behalf of Dartmouth College to Beijing Normal University (BNU) on your 100th anniversary. . . . This institution...

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Remarks to the Alumni Council, May 2, 2003

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pp. 121-128

There has been a custom at Dartmouth for presidents to make five-year reports, reflecting on the initial years of their presidency. In 1975 and again in 1980 John Kemeny, for example, provided the Dartmouth community with two comprehensive reviews of his presidency. President Kemeny, of...

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Unleashed: Mobile Computing Conference, October 8, 2003

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pp. 129-132

Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you to Dartmouth. We are delighted to host this summit on wireless and mobile computing. Yogi Berra once sagely noted, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” He was right, of course. In 1949, Popular Mechanics magazine felt safe to...

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Remarks to Class Officers, September 16, 2004

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pp. 133-139

It is a busy time. It is always a busy time at this dynamic and energetic place. As I begin the seventh year of my administration, it is easy to get caught up in the complexities of a complicated place. So I remind myself to stay focused on our core purpose. My goal has been and continues to...

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Remarks in Memory of David T. McLaughlin '54 Tu '55, President Emeritus of the College, October 4, 2004

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pp. 140-143

This morning we have remembered David McLaughlin as husband, as father and grandfather, as friend, and as businessman and public servant. Even though his family was the most important part of his life and even though those other roles consumed greater parts of his life, one cannot...

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The Leslie Conference of the Future of the Liberal Arts, November 6, 2004

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pp. 144-151

I have in the last quarter century chaired two comprehensive curriculum review committees at Dartmouth—at least one more than any person should take on in a lifetime. In the late 1970s I served as chair of the committee that brought in recommendations to adjust the general...

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Dartmouth Lawyers Association, October 11, 2003

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pp. 152-158

The American system of higher education is the envy of the world, and this is in part a result of how accessible and free our universities and colleges are. Since World War II we have seen a real democratization of education so that virtually any prepared student, regardless of their background...

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Remarks at the Memorial Service for James O. Freedman, Fifteenth President of Dartmouth College, May 15, 2006

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pp. 159-163

Today represents one of those symbolic occasions when the good work of learning pauses in order to remember and to celebrate an important figure in Dartmouth’s history. Jim Freedman’s contributions, to us and our world, are forever. Today is a time for friends to stop and reflect about...

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Athletics and Life: Essay for the Class of 1964, on its Fiftieth Reunion, 2007

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pp. 164-169

I grew up in a small town, Galena, Illinois, a river town, in the post–World War II era. There were a large number of Irish and German families there, farmers and miners and factory workers. Sports were very much a part of the culture, albeit in a very traditional way. College football was then more...

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Honoring Veterans, October 6, 2007

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pp. 170-171

Last week, the new Ken Burns series on World War II aired on public television around the country. As we remember that generation and all it accomplished, let us not forget our current generation of veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I fear, in the midst of the debate over...

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Eleventh Annual Report to the General Faculty, October 27, 2008

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pp. 172-184

For the last decade I have immensely enjoyed this occasion. It provides the opportunity for me to gather with colleagues, friends for many years, and to reflect upon some of the major developments at Dartmouth and my perspective on matters that affect us. Even though we have had some...

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The Yellow Ribbon Program and Private Colleges, February 2, 2009

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pp. 185-195

. . . . Two weeks ago many of us sat mesmerized before our televisions as we watched the inauguration of the United States’ forty-fourth president, Barack Obama. Regardless of individual politics, it was a moving occasion— the sight of the first African-American taking the presidential oath...

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Veterans Day at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C., November 11, 2009

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pp. 196-197

I grew up in a mining town, Galena, Illinois. With four friends I joined the Marines in 1957 at the age of seventeen—to keep me out of the mines for at least a few years. When I returned in 1960 I decided to go to college— but I needed to work in the mines while in school. My boss when...

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Part IV: Commencement Addresses, 1999-2009

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pp. 199-201

I extend my hearty congratulations to you, the graduates of the Class of. . . . This place today resonates with your accomplishments; this is your special day. Your memory will forever cherish this occasion. And there will surely be few times in your lives when you will be surrounded by so many...

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June 13, 1999

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pp. 202-204

. . . . Whatever your individual capacities and energies may be—and we here attest that they are indeed considerable—others enabled you and your accomplishments. But let us acknowledge also that the gratitude you feel leads to an important obligation you now assume: that of assisting...

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June 11, 2000

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pp. 205-207

If you think that this moment has come too soon, I urge you not to worry. Our ceremony today attests that you are ready. I have great confidence in your ability to dream big dreams, to challenge your limits, to make those dreams come true, and to continue to ask much of yourselves...

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June 10, 2001

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pp. 208-210

. . . . You may wonder if graduation has really come so quickly. We look out at you and ask the same question. Time may be constant by the measurement of the great clock of the universe, but its passage is quite uneven in the timepieces of our hearts. Moments to be savored move far too...

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June 9, 2002

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pp. 211-213

Back in the fall of 1998 you each entered into this community with certain understandings about yourself and, most likely, with certain assumptions about what you would do here, as well as how you might lead your lives after June of 2002. It has been the college’s purpose over these four...

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June 8, 2003

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pp. 214-216

. . . . Goodness, this day has come upon us quickly. I recall greeting you in the fall of 1999, when the world seemed to be your oyster, to be opened and enjoyed. The past four years have not followed script. They have been marked by economic dislocation, by the anxiety of war, and by the fear of...

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June 13, 2004

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pp. 217-219

. . . . Members of the Class of 2004, you have the special privilege today of graduating in the company of a former president of the college who is here for his fiftieth reunion. David T. McLaughlin as student, as graduate, as trustee, as Dartmouth president, as man of business, and as world citizen...

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June 12, 2005

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pp. 220-221

. . . . Among those who join us today are members of the Class of 1955. They share with you the distinction of having matriculated as the largest class in Dartmouth’s history. They also share with you, I am sure, the sensation that this day has come on quickly—very quickly. If they were to...

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June 11, 2006

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pp. 222-223

. . . . The Class of 1956 gathers with us today to renew their friendships, to share with one another the paths they have taken, and to salute your accomplishments and to send you warmly on to the next phases of your lives. We celebrate them for what they have done and for the continuity...

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June 10, 2007

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pp. 224-226

. . . . I would like also to extend a special salute to all of you who are receiving graduate and professional degrees. We celebrate your accomplishments, and we are enriched by your contributions to this community of learning. We have full confidence in you and all that you will accomplish...

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June 8, 2008

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pp. 227-229

. . . . As one who has been at Dartmouth for many commencements over many years, I still admit to the bittersweet ambivalence of this occasion. We say farewell this morning, too soon, to those who have inspired and energized us, as well as one another, and who leave a good place the...

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June 14, 2009

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pp. 230-232

. . . . So here we are at commencement, by definition and design a beginning, not an end—hard though it is for some of us to get our arms around that distinction today. But we shall. My approach to this ceremony has been to encourage graduates, on a day filled with memories, to embrace...

Part V: Farewell

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Letter to the Dartmouth Community, June 29, 2009

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pp. 235-241

Susan and I have finished a period of several weeks marked by generous farewells and “last time” occasions. I have been engaged in the work of our spring academic calendar, even as I prepare for a time of transition in the history of Dartmouth as well as a major change in our personal...

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A Welcome to the Wheelock Succession, September 22, 2009

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pp. 242-243

It is my honor to join today in welcoming to the Wheelock Succession Jim Yong Kim, a man who will make a strong tradition the stronger. One of the sustaining qualities of Dartmouth’s Presidency derives from the legacy of its founder, the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock. It was he who left a stern and...


E-ISBN-13: 9781611683332
E-ISBN-10: 1611683335
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611683325
Print-ISBN-10: 1611683327

Page Count: 276
Illustrations: 15 illus.
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Dartmouth College -- Presidents.
  • College orations -- Dartmouth College.
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