Brown University President Ruth Simmons Stepping Down

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ruth J. Simmons, the first African-American woman to lead an Ivy League university, is stepping down as president of Brown University.

Simmons announced Thursday that she will leave her position at the Providence school at the end of the current academic year.

In a statement sent to students, faculty and alumni on Thursday morning, Simmons called her time leading Brown “deeply satisfying” but that the time was right for a change.

“I recently decided that this is the ideal time both for Brown and for me personally to begin the process of transitioning to new leadership,” she said.

After leaving her position, Simmons plans to take up professional projects she put on hold while serving as president. She said she plans to then return to Brown to continue teaching as a professor of comparative literature and Africana studies.

Simmons became Brown’s president in 2001. She came to the university after serving as president of Smith College.

“Ruth’s leadership at Brown has been monumental,” said Brown Chancellor Thomas J. Tisch. “She has paid careful attention to every critical facet of the university, from renewing our commitment to shared governance, to reaffirming our essential role in tackling even the thorniest issues through respectful and informed civil discourse.”

Simmons’ successor will be chosen by the Brown Corp., the entity that governs the university.