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Mon, 07.03.1944

Ruth Simmons, helping women to succeed in nontraditional fields

Ruth Simmons

*Ruth Simmons was born on this date in 1945.  She is a Black educator and college administrator.

Born Ruth Jean Stubblefield was born in Grapeland, Texas, the last of 12 children of Fanny (née Campbell) and Isaac Stubblefield. Her father was a sharecropper, until the family moved to Houston during her school years. Her paternal grandfather descends partly from the Benza and Kota people, slaves from Gabon, while her maternal line is traced back to the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean who were enslaved by the Spaniards.  She earned her bachelor's degree, on scholarship, from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1967. She went on to earn her master's and doctorate in Romance literature from Harvard University in 1970 and 1973, respectively.

Simmons was an assistant professor of French at the University of New Orleans from 1973-1976 and Assistant Dean of the UNO College of Liberal Arts from 1975-76. She moved to California State University, Northridge in 1977 as administrative coordinator of its NEH Liberal Studies Project. From 1978-79, she was acting director of CSU-Northridge's International Programs and visiting associate professor of Pan-African Studies.  Simmons worked at the University of Southern California in 1979 as assistant dean of graduate studies, and then as associate dean of graduate studies.

She served Princeton University in 1983 as assistant dean of faculty and then associate dean of faculty from 1986 to 1990. Simmons served as provost at Spelman College from 1990 to 1991 and returned to Princeton as its vice provost from 1992 to 1995.  In 2011, Simmons stepped down from the Brown presidency at the end of the academic year, June 30, 2012. She retired to Texas where she had been born and raised. 

On June 19, 2017, she agreed to step in as the interim president of Prairie View A&M University, a member of the Texas A&M University System and a Historically Black Institution (HBCU), assuming the office on July 1, 2017. On December 4, 2017, she was officially named the eighth president of Prairie View A&M University. She is the first woman elected to serve as president of Prairie View A&M, where her older brother was a basketball student-athlete.

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