16th President of Dartmouth College, 1998-2009
U.S. Marine (1957-1960)
James Wright is President Emeritus and Eleazar Wheelock Professor of History Emeritus at Dartmouth College. The son of a WW II veteran, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1957, at age 17 and served for three years before entering Wisconsin State University-Platteville for his bachelor’s degree, and a masters and doctoral degree in history from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1969 and from 1998 to 2009, served as the college’s 16th president.
President Wright has worked with veterans since 2005 when he began visiting wounded Marines and soldiers in Washington, D.C. hospitals. In over thirty visits since then, he has encouraged the injured servicemen and women to continue their education. Wright was involved in the planning for the Yellow Ribbon Program that provided for private institutions to be included in the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and he worked with the American Council on Education (ACE) to create a new educational counseling program for wounded U.S. veterans. This program still continues at Walter Reed Hospital under the Semper Fi Fund.
An American historian, Wright is the author or editor of seven books. Following his presidential service he has lectured and written on those who have served in the country’s wars. His most recent book, Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and Its War (St. Martin’s Press, April 2017), focuses on the “baby boomer” generation who served in the Vietnam War and the human face of war. His book Those Who Have Borne the Battle: A History of America’s Wars and Those Who Fought Them, was published in April 2012.
He serves on the Board of the Semper Fi Fund/America’s Fund, the Advisory Boards of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and the With Honor program, and has been a member of the Campaign Leadership Committee for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Education Center. He recently completed service on the board of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
For his work with veterans, he has earned recognition, including being featured as “Person of the Week” on ABC World News and being named a New Englander of the Year by the New England Council. In 2009 the Veterans of Foreign Wars honored him with the Commander-in-Chief’s Gold Medal of Merit Award. In 2017 he received the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award.