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Ruth J. Simmons

Academic administrator and college president Ruth J. Simmons was born on July 3, 1945 near Grapeland, Texas to Fanny and Isaac Stubblefield. After the family moved to Houston in 1952, Simmons graduated top of her class from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1963. She then received her B.A. degree in French from Dillard University in 1967 and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in romance languages and literature from Harvard University in 1970 and 1973.

Simmons became as an assistant professor of French at the University of New Orleans in 1973; and, two years later, was promoted to assistant dean of their College of Liberal Arts. In 1977, she was hired by California State University, Northridge where she served as administrative coordinator for their National Endowment for the Humanities Liberal Studies Project until 1978 when she was made acting director of international programs and associate professor of Pan-African studies. In 1979, Simmons joined the University of Southern California as assistant, and then associate dean of graduate studies. She remained here until 1983 when she was hired by Princeton University to serve as director of studies for their new residential college, Butler College. From 1985 to 1987 she also worked as their acting director of Afro-American studies; and, in 1986, she was promoted to associate dean of faculty at Princeton University. Simmons subsequently served as provost of Spelman College from 1990 to 1991 before returning to Princeton as vice provost. In 1995, Simmons became the first African American woman to head a major college or university upon being named president of Smith College. Here, she established the first engineering program at a woman’s college. She held this position until 2001 when she was selected president of Brown University, making her the first African American woman to head an Ivy League institution. Here, she raised a record amount of funding for the school and established a need-blind admission standard for undergraduates. In 2012, she stepped down as president of Brown, but remained as a professor of comparative literature and Africana studies. Simmons subsequently became interim president of Prairie View A&M University in 2017 before being named president of the school, making her their first woman president.

Simmons has served on numerous boards throughout her career, including for JSTOR, Pfizer, Inc., Texas Instruments, Goldman Sachs, Howard University, Mondelez International, Chrysler, LLC, and Princeton University. She has also been a presidential appointee for President Bill Clinton’s Women’s Progress Commemoration Commission in 1999 and President Barack Obama’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 2009.

Simmons has over thirty honorary degrees and has received many awards such as CBS’s Woman of the Year in 1996, the National Urban League’s Achievement Award in 1998, the United Negro College Fund’s President’s Award in 2001, the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal in 2002, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2010.

Simmons resides in Texas and has two adult children, Khari and Maya.

Ruth J. Simmons was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 3, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.134

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/3/2019

Last Name

Simmons

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

J.

Schools

W.R. Banks Elementary School

Phillis Wheatley High School

Dillard University

Wellesley College

George Washington University

Harvard University

Atherton Elementary

First Name

Ruth

Birth City, State, Country

Grapeland

HM ID

SIM14

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

France

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

7/3/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Prairie View

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken Enchiladas With Rice And Refried Beans, Gumbo

Short Description

Academic administrator and college president Ruth J. Simmons (1945- ) was the first African American woman to head a major college or university as president of Smith College, the first African American woman to head an Ivy League institution as president of Brown University, and the first woman president of Prairie View A&M University.

Employment

Brown University

Prairie View A&M University

Smith College

Princeton University

Spelman College

University of Southern California

California State University, Northridge

University of New Orleans

Radcliffe College

George Washington University

Language Services Division, U.S. Department of State

Favorite Color

Red

Richard Hope

Educator and sociologist Richard Oliver Hope was born on April 1, 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee and received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1961. Hope went on to receive his M.A. degree and his Ph.D. degree in sociology from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 1964 and 1969, respectively.

Upon graduation, Hope was hired as an assistant professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, where he worked until 1972. He also became a research associate at the metropolitan applied research center in New York. From 1972 to 1974, Hope served as the first director of research and evaluation for the Defense Race Relations Institute (now DEOMI), where he was responsible for the creation, administration, and development of human relations research for early curriculum materials, and analyses of worldwide intergroup relations in the U.S. military. In 1974, Hope was hired as full professor and chair of sociology, as well as director of the National Science Foundation Project at Morgan State University. In 1982, he became chair of sociology and the coordinator of the Liberal Arts Workshop for the Lilly Foundation in Indiana. At that time, he created the Center for International Studies and served as its first director. In 1988, Hope accepted a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he served as executive director of the Quality Education Project in conjunction with the Carnegie Corporation. In 1990, Hope was hired at Princeton University as full professor of sociology and senior vice president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF). While at the WWNFF, Hope developed the Public Policy Partnership Program in South Africa and the Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program. He also directed the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowships, the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellows Dissertation and Travel/Research Grants, and the Career Enhancement Fellowship. Hope was then named president of the 1971 DEOMI Foundation, Inc.

Hope has served on several public policy boards. He was a member of the board of directors of the National Urban League and Princeton University’s Center on African American Studies. Hope has also been elected to the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as an advisory panel member of The Brookings Institution.

Hope published numerous articles and books, including Racial Strife in the United States Military: Toward the Elimination of Discrimination, African-Americans and the Doctoral Experience: Implications for Policy, and Educating a New Majority: Transforming America's Educational System for Diversity. He has been the recipient for many awards for his work as well. Hope is the recipient of the Mellon-Mays Achievement Award for Leadership, the Gandhi-King-Ikeda International Peace Award, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Leadership in the Advancement of Minorities in International and Diplomatic Service.

Hope and his wife, Alice Anderson, live in Chicago, Illinois. They have two children: Leah and Richard, Jr.

Richard Hope was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 18, 2014 and July 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2014.016

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/18/2014

07/16/2017

Last Name

Hope

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Oliver

Occupation
Schools

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Morehouse College

Syracuse University

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

HOP04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Palm Springs

Favorite Quote

I have a dream

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

4/1/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Educator and sociologist Richard Hope (1939 - ) , president of the 1971 DEOMI Foundation, Inc., has served as a professor of sociology at Princeton University and senior vice president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Employment

Brooklyn College

Metropolitan Applied Research Center

Defense Race Relations Institute (DEOMI)

Morgan State University

Lilly Foundation

Center for International Studies

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Princeton University

1971 DEOMI Foundation, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue