Home Official News Releases Prof. R. Dean Wright honored by Iowa Legislature

Prof. R. Dean Wright honored by Iowa Legislature

photo of Sen. Jack Hatch, R. Dean Wright and Rep. Wayne Ford at the State Capitol.
Sen. Jack Hatch, R. Dean Wright and Rep. Wayne Ford gather at the State Capitol.

The Iowa Legislature recently
honored R. Dean Wright, the Ellis and Nelle Levitt professor emeritus of sociology at Drake, for his
“lifetime of achievement and dedication to social justice, which have made
Iowa a better place for us all.” 

The House of Representatives
presented Wright with a Certificate of Recognition for his “commitment to
teaching and activism; as well as showing a commitment to social activism,
justice and community service.”

The Senate approved a resolution
praising Wright for teaching “generations of students about poverty,
homelessness and crime.”

His lessons weren’t limited to the
classroom, however. He often invited his students to join in helping the
Salvation Army serve breakfast to homeless people living under bridges and on
the streets of Des Moines.

Wright joined the Drake faculty in
1971 and retired in 2004. He continued to teach classes through 2005 and in
2007 published his latest book, “Politics in the Human Interest: Applying
Sociology in the Real World” with William Du Bois.

The resolution described Wright as
a “tireless advocate and community activist for the poor, the homeless and
for juvenile justice.”

The resolution also noted many of
the milestones that mark Wright’s long and distinguished career as a teacher
and scholar. These include:

  • Conducting
    research as a Fulbright scholar in India
  • Receiving
    fellowships from the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for
    the Humanities, among others
  • Chairing
    the Iowa Criminal and Juvenile Justice Advisory Council for 14 years and
    Attorney General Tom Miller’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice

In addition, the resolution
commended Wright for his high level of community involvement, including his
work as an original board member of Urban Dreams in Des Moines. Wright’s
tireless community service earned him myriad awards, including:

  • The
    first Madelyn M. Levitt Distinguished Community Service Award
  • The
    Drake Medal of Service
  • The
    Public Service Award of the Iowa Corrections Association
  • The
    Special Award from the Midwest Sociological Society
  • Induction
    into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame

The full text of the resolution is
posted on the Iowa Legislature’s Web site.

The Senate also recognized
Wright’s family, noting that he has “conducted his life and work in
partnership with his wife, Susan Wright (associate provost), and with his son
and daughter-in-law, Ehren and Michelle Stover-Wright, and grandchildren Aiden
and Ella.”