I just received a message that the President of my alma mater, Brown University, Dr. Ruth Simmons, will be stepping down at the end of this academic year. Dr. Simmons has been President of Brown since July 2001 and has been a fabulous leader over the past decade. Her life and career have been truly amazing. She was one of twelve children, born to sharecroppers in Mississippi, graduated from Dillard College and then went on to get her PhD from Harvard University.
Dr. Simmons will take a leave and then will continue at Brown as a professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies.
Prior to assuming the Presidency of Brown, she was the President of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, which is very close to UMass Amherst where I teach. Smith College is part of the Five College system (which also includes Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and UMass Amherst).
Dr. Simmons' letter to the Brown community can be read here.
We were at Brown just this past summer and prior to this visit my husband had taken part as a speaker at a Brown alumni forum for physicists (something Simmons had started) and I had spoken at Brown at a SUMS (Symposium for Undergraduates in the Mathematical Sciences) conference, and represented the field of Operations Research. I had such a great time and am pleased to say that one of the undergrads who had participated in this program went on to get his masters degree in Operations Research at the London School of Economics. His name, for real, is Adam Smith.
Thank you, Dr. Simmons, for your terrific leadership of this Ivy League University.