Wright joins scholarly society

by Jennifer Thomas | 7/3/01 5:00am

President of the College James Wright was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 220-year-old academic organization composed of the world's leading scholars and public leaders.

Wright told The Dartmouth that he was "pleasantly surprised" by his nomination and subsequent election.

He will now join the ranks of the 185 news Fellows and 26 Foreign Honorary Members to be inducted this year, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, composer and lyricist Stephen Soundheim and President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel.

Wright, however, will not be the only representative from the College on the hill -- the Academy is currently led by former Dartmouth College President James O. Freedman.

According to the Academy's mission statement, its goals include promoting critical analysis of social and intellectual issues, facilitating intellectual exchange, mentoring a new generation of scholars and honoring field-wide excellence.

Wright explained that, once inducted, "the responsibilities [of membership] are really of one's own choosing." Although he plans to wait until his initiation to decide exactly how he will contribute to the society's goals, Wright noted that he would be particularly interested in examining the interface between higher education and American society and culture.

Wright declined to speculate as to why he was elected to the society, but pointed out that "the position I hold now [as College president] is not an irrelevant part of that."

Wright's contributions to the academic sphere transcend his achievements here at the College. In addition to having spent over 30 years in higher education, Wright is a noted American political historian and has written or edited five books. Also, he was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, a Charles Warren Fellow at Harvard University and currently serves on the board of the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.

Chartered in 1780, the Academy was established in order to "cultivate every art and science, which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent and virtuous people."

Previous honorees include such influential leaders and thinkers as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.

Among the 3,700 current members are more than 150 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Also joining the Academy this year is E. John Rosenwald, former chair of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, whom the New York Times declared "one of New York's premier philanthropists."

This year's new members will be initiated at the annual induction ceremony on October 13, 2001 in Cambridge, Mass.