“Finding Your Roots” – Ruth Simmons
After coming out of a five-year retirement to serve as the interim president of Prairie View A&M University Ruth Simmons was named President of the HBCU and is set to assume a full-time role in February.
Simmons was previously the President of Brown University from 2001 to 2012, earning the title of the first African American woman to serve as the president of an Ivy League school.
As president of Prairie View, Simmons seeks to replicate the initiatives she enacted at Brown, specifically bridging the gap between the administration and student body, and especially to equip students with the resources and skills to make Prairie View a top research institution.
“I want these students to know that they are fit to be in any setting, fit to be with any people they encounter, fit to learn from a lot of different settings,” she said according to The Texas Tribune.
And although the role was intended to be a short-term one, Simmons credits students’ “determinations, their commitment to better themselves” as the main pull-factor. As for what drew her to Prairie View, the Houston native recalls visiting her brother who attended the school, and “that it was not more of the same.”
Simmons attended Dillard University, an HBCU in New Orleans, Louisiana and received her Doctorate in Romance Languages and Literature at Harvard University. During her tenure at Brown College, Simmons started the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and was named “America’s Best College President” by TIME Magazine in 2001.