Jim Prager enjoys new role in Hanover

by Kathleen McDermott | 10/17/00 5:00am

With antique light fixtures from the 1860s, marble-top Victorian-style tables and a woven rug from the days of early American industrialization, Jim Prager is one who cherishes everything old.

Surrounded by many of the antique objects he so cherishes, Jim Prager, husband of Provost Susan Prager, feels comfortable talking about adjusting to a very new environment and a new role of an administrative spouse in the Dartmouth community.

When Susan Prager began her job as provost in January 1999, Jim traded the bustling corporate business world of diverse Southern California for the quiet and calm of rural Hanover.

The couple met during law school at the University of California Los Angeles. After their marriage in 1973, he worked as a corporate lawyer for ten years before serving as a business executive.

Now in Hanover, Jim focuses on his business interests back in Los Angeles and his activities at Dartmouth. "I've had lots of jobs in the past," he said, adding that he's happily unemployed at the moment.

His interest in old things still links him to Los Angeles, as he owns several old houses which he rents to movie studios. Used mostly for one-day shots, the houses -- one furnished entirely with antique items -- have been used in the television series Providence and Charmed.

As provost, Susan Prager serves as a chief academic officer for the College, working with deans of the various schools and coordinating many interdisciplinary programs and activities. And although Jim has no official responsibilities to the College, his days are still filled supporting his wife and her profession.

Their home, for example, serves as a springboard for many aspects of her position. Located on Occum Pond with a backyard open to the mountains and changing fall foliage, the house is partly owned by the College and used by the couple for entertaining guests and hosting visitors.

No longer in sunny Los Angeles, Prager is still working on adjusting to the New England winters and the rural atmosphere. Last January, Prager decided to give ice skating a try. But skating around Occum Pond, he soon found himself waist-deep in the slightly thawed mess of ice and snow.

With the seasons once again changing, Jim finds himself consoling Californian '04s -- already missing the freedom of year-round shorts and T-shirt -- via BlitzMail.

While showing off the pictures of his daughters -- one is a 22-year old artist, the other a 15-year old volleyball player at Exeter Academy -- Prager explained that especially at Dartmouth, as a residential college, it's important that administrators and students both have a connection to the Dartmouth and Hanover communities.

It's important that students are knowledgeable about the needs of the local community and don't see themselves as just temporary visitors in Hanover, Prager said.

Over the past year, he's immersed himself in Dartmouth, getting to know the community and taking advantage of the many opportunities available.

Attending athletic events, Hood Museum exhibits and student music programs, Prager continues to be impressed with the quality of the faculty and students.

His first summer here, Prager attended an interdisciplinary program on Los Angeles and Mexico, which brought together geography and film studies professors as well as visiting academics. Yet, Prager found that very few students attended, despite the program being very timely and relevant to students' studies, and wonders why such programs don't trigger more student interest.

Frequenting last years' "fireside chats," Jim saw how the student community pulses, and feels he now understands Dartmouth culture.

"I'm not sure I have a 'role,'" Prager said, but he's enjoyed his time here, from attending Hood Exhibits on costumes through the ages, to playing fetch with the couple's Australian Shepherd dog in their spacious backyard, to bidding for antiques on eBay.

"It's a great group of students and faculty," Prager said, and he's enjoyed understanding how the academic community works, one so unlike the commuter environment of L.A.

"It's been a lot of fun," Prager said, and he expects to continue to learn more and more about how special Dartmouth is.

But Prager said that as long as his wife, Susan, serves as provost, he'll continue to support her and her needs -- caring for house, kids and dog.