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Sept. 13, 2000
OSWEGO -- New York State Sen. James W. Wright received the Oswego Alumni Association's Lifetime Award of Merit at a Sept. 8 ceremony at Oswego State.
A 1971 graduate of Oswego, Wright is now serving his fourth term in the New York State Senate, representing the 46th Senate District from his base in Watertown.
"Jim Wright's life's work is a paragon of public service," said Oswego State President Deborah F. Stanley. "We're proud of our part in preparing him for his outstanding career, and we're grateful that, in his diligence to advance the economic prospects of this region, he has been mindful of the contribution that a strong and forward-looking university can make to a healthy economy."
Wright started out as a child protective services caseworker in Oswego County. In 1979, he was appointed county administrator of Oswego County, the county's first. In 1992, he was elected to the Senate.
As county administrator, he oversaw major infrastructure improvements, economic development initiatives, the development of a comprehensive waste management program, and the development and implementation of an off-site nuclear emergency response plan.
As senator, he has worked to improve economic development. As the current chairman of the Senate Task Force on Small Business, he has been a leading advocate for improving the state's business climate. He has been instrumental in negotiations to keep large manufacturers in his district and to attract new employers.
As chairman of the Senate's Committee on Energy and Telecommunication, he was an important member of the committee that drafted the "Power for Jobs" legislation, which provides low-cost power to businesses in return for their commitment to create and retain jobs.
His accomplishments include many that have benefited his alma mater. He was instrumental in securing state funding to get Oswego State's distance learning program up and running as one of the most advanced in the State University.
He helped obtain the $42 million in capital construction funds that will transform Rich Hall into a new home for the School of Business, build a new student center and make many other major improvements to the campus infrastructure in the next few years.
"This infusion of capital will allow SUNY Oswego to remain competitive as well as stimulate the local economy through the new construction work that will be available," he said at the time.
As chair of the Senate's Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, he helped Oswego State obtain funding that led to the founding of the campus LifeStyles Center, which combats student drug and alcohol abuse and encourages healthy lifestyles through peer education.
Wright has actively participated in the Oswego State Fall Classic Energy Forums and in the Sheldon Roundtable Public Issues Forums on campus.
He received the Chancellor's Recognition Award in 1998.
He is the youngest of the 12 alumni that have received the Oswego Alumni Association's Lifetime Award of Merit. The last recipient, in 1998, was Dr. Barbara Shineman, professor emeritus of education.
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