Ruth Simmons to be Named President of Brown University
Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, the president of Smith College, was named the new president of Brown University earlier this month, making her the first African American president of an Ivy League institution.
The members of the Brown Corporation said they were impressed not only by her biography, but by the example that she would set for the student body.
While at Smith, a women’s college in Northampton, Mass., with 2,500 students, Simmons sought to improve academic life in several areas. In addition, during her tenure the endowment nearly doubled to $900 million from about $450 million. Smith also attracted national attention when Simmons established the first engineering program at a woman’s college, (see Black
Issues, Sept. 14). Simmons, who arrived at Smith in 1995, was also the first Black woman to lead Smith.
Simmons will become the 18th president of Brown, which has an undergraduate and graduate student population of 7,300. She succeeds Dr. E. Gordon Gee, Brown’s president for two years, who left the university nine months ago to become the chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
The youngest of 12 children of a Texas sharecropper, Simmons graduated summa cum laude from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1967 and received her masters and Ph.D. at Harvard. She went on to teach French at the University in New Orleans.
Simmons has also served as the acting director of Afro-American studies at Princeton and as assistant dean and associate dean of the faculty. In the early 1990s, Simmons served as provost at Spelman College in Atlanta.
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