Jaeger prepares for his retirement

by Sarah Betts | 5/28/02 5:00am

It is Saturday morning, and Athletic Director Richard Jaeger '59 is outside with his yellow Labrador retrievers, enjoying the good weather. He will soon have more time for leisurely mornings like this one -- after 38 years working for Dartmouth, Jaeger is relinquishing his position for some hard-earned freedom.

Jaeger, who has been the Director of Athletics since 1989 and was an admissions director before that, decided after a life spent with the College that it was time for a change.

"I turned 65 in January, and I had always said that's when I would retire," Jaeger said. "I want time to do other things."

As athletic director, Jaeger works with directors of the different athletic departments and coaches, other college offices, alumni and Ivy League committees, as well as dealing with the NCAA. He likened his job to that of an air traffic controller.

"There are a lot of headaches to his job," varsity football head coach John Lyons said.

Jaeger, though, enjoys the opportunities he has to interact with coaches and students. He said that his favorite aspect of the position is dealing with student athletes, watching their performances and cheering their victories.

"It's fun to interact with them and congratulate them," Jaeger said. "You want to help them out. We have some amazing coaches, too, and you try to give them every advantage you can."

He said he is always impressed with Dartmouth students' "commitment and willingness to give all they can to be successful." Jaeger said he admires how students with strong extracurricular commitments manage to excel in both academic and non-academic endeavors.

According to Lyons, Jaeger is very involved, and attends many athletic events.

"He has a real love for Dartmouth," Lyons said.

Jaeger also has a love for education and athletics that has directed his career choices since he first came to Dartmouth as a student in 1955. He was surprised at a recent alumni banquet when he was read his admissions essay from 1954, in which he had written that he wanted to be a teacher and athletics coach.

After graduating from Dartmouth, he went to Columbia for a Masters in English, then taught and coached in White Plains, N.Y. His son and daughter also happen to be English teachers and coaches.

"I don't know if it runs in the genes or has to do with the way of life or what," Jaeger said.

Administrative Assistant to the Director Lynn Bixby, who has worked with Jaeger in admissions and athletics since 1972, called him a "people person." She noted his memorable jokes -- "Sometimes you don't understand them, but most of the time they are funny."

Lyons agreed that Jaeger has "some corny sayings," but also praised his good nature and enthusiasm.

"We [the coaches] all came to work at Dartmouth for Dick, so we all owe him a lot," Lyons said. "He is a very good guy, great to work for."

In his newfound free time, Jaeger hopes to "travel and do community service." He and his wife Sally, who works for the Tuck School of Business, would like to go to Australia and New Zealand, parts of the British Isles, and to the American west.

"There is a lot of this country that Sally hasn't seen," Jaeger said. "And we have a nice fishing camp on an island in a lake in Canada that we'd like to spend some time at."

Jaeger would also like to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and a rural visiting nurse program, which brings medical care to isolated rural inhabitants.

"Habitat accomplishes a good result for people who need homes, and I would like to learn more about carpentry," Jaeger said.

He would like to become involved in the visiting nurse program by delivering meals or medicine to shut in people.

One thing Jaeger doesn't want to do in his spare time is serve on any more directorate boards.

"Some of my friends are in director boards, and I don't want to do that," Jaeger said. "I've done that for 25 years."

He looks back over his time at Dartmouth in a very positive light, though.

"I love Dartmouth," Jaeger said. "It is my kind of place, and I have loved being part of the family."

Currently, a committee is searching for a new director to replace Jaeger. According to Lyons, who serves on the coaches' committee, they have interviewed five candidates so far, and are hoping to hire someone to start July 1.

"What we want is someone who can come in and lead the department," Lyons said. "Someone who can work well with the senior administration and can deal with all the different groups."