Our district’s Administrator of the Year- James Wright

Dean of Science, Mathemathics, and Engineering James Wright (Tracey Daly/Special to Lariat)

Kayla Sallee

James Wright, Dean of Mathematics, Science and Engineering, was recognized as the South Orange County Community College District’s Administrator of the Year.
Chancellor Raghu Mathur made the announcement in recognition of Wright’s leadership over 15 years at Saddleback College.  Wright has been known for his strong work ethics-exceeding expectations and going above and beyond the call of duty.
Wright has dedicated many hours to the Veterans Memorial, attending college events, job fairs and raising funds for student scholarships.  Wright also makes an effort to visit sick employees and fill in for absent instructors.
The award ceremony was held at the Tustin Ranch Golf Course on Sept. 17.  He was aware he was nominated for this award, but no idea that he actual won it.
“I felt overwhelmed, but at the same time I felt very honored to be in the company of some of the previous winners,” Wright said.  “It was a wonderful evening.  It was very difficult to get my proposal to even thank the people for honoring me.”
“I really don’t think I did a good enough job thanking everyone for this award, as I would have liked to.”  Wright said.
Wright spent a total of 27 years in the air force academy and 13 of those years teaching chemistry in the air force.
He retired from the air force in 1992 and began working as a chemistry instructor for Saddleback College in 1994. Wright earned three degrees from the University of Idaho: a doctorate in biochemistry, a master of science degree and a bachelor of science degree, both in chemistry.
In 1999, Wright was named the permanent Dean of the Division in Mathematics, Science and Engineering.
Tod A. Burnett, President of Saddleback College said in a prepared statement, “Dr. Wright is highly respected throughout the college for his intelligence, integrity, and compassion for his co-workers and students.  An esteemed chemist and patriot, Dr. Weight knows that he is a kindhearted person with an unmatched love at Saddleback College that is shown every day through his leadership and hard work.”
Wright has been teaching in one form or the other, meaning full time or part time for 45 years now.
“I don’t have plans to retire at this time,” Wright said. “It was truly an honor to receive the award.  I’ve loved working with our students, faculty, and staff, and my fellow deans, who are wonderful and talented group of people.   It’s a humbling experience to be nominated for such an award by your peers and staff and I am touched by their generosity in nominating me.”
As of Oct 5, Wright is teaching a crash course, CSET Single Subject Science Chemistry for high school teachers to be able to pass their CSET exam.  This enables them to become a high school chemistry teacher.  Wright is teaching this course during the Fall and Spring semesters which meets four days per week.


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