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Dr. Ruth Simmons Appointed Senior Adviser on HBCU Engagement for Harvard President

Dr. Ruth Simmons, the outgoing president of Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), will become a senior adviser to the president of Harvard University on engagement with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), effective Jun. 1, The Harvard Gazette reported.Dr. Ruth SimmonsDr. Ruth Simmons

Simmons, president emerita of Smith College and Brown University, recently announced an early resignation as PVAMU President after hiring disagreements with the Chancellor of the Texas system chancellor. 

Simmons will advise on efforts to support the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery. At Brown, Simmons led the school’s response and reckoning with its history of slavery and injustice.

“I applaud [Harvard President Larry Bacow’s] vision and Harvard’s hopes for a more inclusive future for higher education,” Simmons said. “From his courageous defense of the importance of diversity on our campuses to his support for the work of the Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery initiative, he has led with great wisdom and integrity. I am proud to work alongside Harvard to shape a new vision for higher education, one which acknowledges the need for institutions with different histories and missions to share expertise and productively collaborate in the interests of a more equitable society. Harvard’s recognition that HBCUs have much to contribute is a welcome and timely message.”

Simmons will also organize a gathering of HBCUs in the fall and will advise on development of partnerships outlined in the Presidential Committee report, including faculty and student exchanges between Harvard and HBCUs.

Simmons’ ties to Harvard are longstanding. She holds a Centennial Medal from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. And she has testified on Harvard’s behalf in a lawsuit about Harvard College’s right to consider race in admissions.

Outside of Harvard, Simmons will also become a President’s Distinguished Fellow at Rice University, effective Apr. 1.


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