Black History: Special Delivery!!

Ruth Simmons 2
Dr. Ruth Simmons


Dr. Ruth Simmons (1945 – ) was the first African American woman to become a college president at an Ivy League school. She served as president at Brown University in Rhode Island from 2001 – 2012.  She also made history in 1995 when she became president of Smith College. Simmons lead efforts to improve academic programs at both institutions including the launch of an engineering school and Smith College.

This would be the first all female engineering school, as Smith was an all female institution. Simmons also successfully obtained lead a fundraising campaign at Brown that yield $1.4 million dollars in financial contributions. “Boldly Brown” was the name of the fundraising initiative.

Simmons is the youngest of 12 children. She was born in Grapeland, TX. Her family eventually relocated to Houston. She was the first person in her family attend college. Her parents were sharecroppers and her great-great grandparents. Simmon’s mother died when she was 15 years old. She credits her mother for her strong work ethic.  To learn more about Ruth Simmons, check out this video courtesy of

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