This Day in Black History: July 3, 1944

Ruth Simmons, former president of Brown University, was born.

Posted: 07/03/2014 12:00 AM EDT
This Day in Black History: July 3, 1944

Ruth Simmons, the first Black president of an Ivy League institution, was born on July 3, 1944.

Simmons became the 18th president at Brown University in 2001. At Brown, she completed an initiative called Boldly Brown: The Campaign for Academic Enrichment. The $1.4 billion initiative was designed to boost the university’s academic programs.

At the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, Simmons stepped down from her position as Brown’s president but remained with the institution as an African Studies and Comparative Literature professor.

Simmons is a Texas native and a 1967 graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans.  Her career as an educator started as an assistant dean of graduate studies at the University of Southern California in 1979. Simmons then became a dean at Princeton University in 1983 and stayed there until 1990. In 1995, she became the president of Smith College until her time at Brown.

In 2009, Simmons was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The following year she received a BET Honors award for her contributions to education as president of Brown University.

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 (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images) 

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