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Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Presentation

Thu, November 14, 2:15 to 3:30pm, Hilton Portland Downtown, Floor: Ballroom, Galleria II

Session Submission Type: Special Session


Named in memory of Irvin Lee (Bobby) Wright, the ASHE Dissertation of the Year award annually recognizes one or more exemplary dissertations in the field of higher education. Award criteria include the high quality of the methodology employed and the significance of the dissertation topic.

Bobby Wright received the 1986 ASHE Distinguished Dissertation of the Year award, as well as the Montana State University Alumni and Endowment Foundation Graduate Achievement Award for outstanding performance. At the time of his death due to AIDS in 1991 at the age of 40, Dr. Wright was an assistant professor and research associate affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Higher Education in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining Penn State in 1989, he was director of the Centre for Native American Studies at Montana State University, where he received his doctorate in Adult and Higher Education in 1985. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of San Francisco in 1973 and his master’s degree in American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The Penn State Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) sponsors the ASHE Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year award to commemorate the legacy of Bobby Wright’s life and scholarship. A gay Native American, Dr. Wright contributed historical studies of Native Americans in higher education. He avidly mentored students and colleagues, encouraging them to instill compassion in their scholarship. As Bobby Wright explained (via W.G. Tierney, personal communication, 1990):

“As an Indian I saw discrimination; I learned up close how people hated for no reason, but I also learned the spiritual way, tribal ways. …I’m glad to have been gay, to have been Indian, to have been poor. Each has made me what I am, and I have met extraordinary people. I pity those who hate, who don’t understand, who want to discriminate because I’m Indian, or gay, or poor. I’ve tried to live an honest life to the best of my ability, and I only wish other people tried as hard to accept and honor the difference in all of us.”

The Penn State CSHE faculty celebrate exemplary scholarship and commemorate all scholars whose work and lives have advanced diversity, equity, and the public good of higher education.

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