The Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System unanimously voted Monday to name Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, a nationally recognized leader in higher education, as the 8th president of Prairie View A&M University. She made history when she became the first Black woman to become the president of an Ivy League school, and now Simmons will assume the presidency of Texas’ second oldest public institution becoming the first woman to lead the university in its 140-year history.
It's official! #PVAMU has a new president, Dr. Ruth J. Simmons! She will be the 8th president of the university and the first woman to lead the university in its 140-year history. pic.twitter.com/IxGpTp3n58
— Prairie View A&M (@PVAMU) December 4, 2017
Simmons, who has been serving as the interim president since July, was the only finalist being considered for the position. Faculty expect that her prominence and experience as a leader in higher education will bring the cultural capital necessary to raise the research profile of the historically Black institution.
“I knew Dr. Simmons was the right fit to lead Prairie View when we asked her to serve as interim president,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp in a statement. “I am so excited by the prospect of President Simmons serving our campus for the long-term.”
Simmons’ first presidency was at Smith College, which began in 1995. From 2001-2012, she served as the President of Brown University for over a decade. She has served in an array of academic and administrative positions at universities across the country, such as Princeton University, Spelman College and the University of Southern California. She is currently on the Board of Trustees at Rice University and has served on the boards of Princeton University and Howard University.
“I think this is one of the best things that could ever happen to Prairie View,” said Dr. Fred Bonner, a professor who holds an endowed chair in Educational Leadership and Counseling at the university. Bonner believes Simmons’ reputation and the relationship that she is developing with the institution will inspire students at the university.