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Claiming Williams Keynote: Ruth Simmons

February 1 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Ruth Simmons, the first Black woman to lead an Ivy League institution — as president of Smith College and then Brown University — is author of the acclaimed memoir 'Up Home: One Girl’s Journey.' Press photo courtesy of Williams College
Ruth Simmons

Ruth Simmons, author of the acclaimed memoir Up Home: One Girl’s Journey, New York Times bestseller and this year’s Williams Reads selection, will give the Claiming Williams evening keynote with an on-stage conversation with Leticia S. E. Haynes, Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Williams College.

Ruth Simmons was president of Smith College from 1995-2001, the largest women’s college in the United States, where she launched a number of strategic initiatives to strengthen the college’s academic programs and inaugurated the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college. Simmons then served as Brown’s president from 2001-2012, making her the first Black woman to lead an Ivy League institution.

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Simmons is now serving as a President’s Distinguished Fellow at Rice University and has previously served as President at Brown University, Smith College and Prairie View A&M University.

She is a former director of African American studies at Princeton University and past chair of the Harvard University Visiting Committee for African-American Studies, and in 2003 she led the Slavery and Justice Initiative at Brown. In 2012, she left Brown to become president at Prairie View A&M where she served from 2017-2023.

This event is free and open to the public. It will also be recorded and posted on Williams YouTube for those unable to attend.

“As an academic leader, Simmons believes in the power of education to transform lives. She champions the university as a haven of reasoned debate with the responsibility to challenge students intellectually and prepare them to become informed, conscientious citizens. She has spent her career advocating for a leadership role for higher education in the arena of national and global affairs.”

A native of Texas and a 1967 graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, Simmons received her Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures from Harvard University in 1973. She is fluent in French and has written on the works of David Diop and Aime Cesaire.

In 1983, after serving as associate dean of the graduate school at the University of Southern California, Simmons joined the Princeton University administration. She remained at Princeton for seven years, leaving in 1990 for two years to serve as provost at Spelman College. Returning to Princeton in 1992 as vice provost, she remained at the university until June 30, 1995.

In 1995 she became president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States, where she launched a number of strategic initiatives to strengthen the college’s academic programs and inaugurated the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college.

Simmons, an articulate spokesperson and writer, has written and delivered papers or presentations on a wide array of educational and public policy issues, including institutional governance, foreign language study, diversity, liberal arts, science education, leadership, and women in higher education.

Among many educational institutions and national forums, she has been a featured speaker at the White House, the World Economic Forum, the National Press Club, the Association of American Universities, and the American Council on Education.

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Event Details

Details

Date:
February 1
Time:
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Categories:
, , ,

Event Location

Williams College
880 Main St.
Williamstown, MA
(413) 597-3131

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