Ruth Simmons was the ninth president of Smith College
from July 1, 1995 till July 1, 2001 when she will become the president of Brown University
. This will make her both the first woman president of Brown and the
first African American
to be the head of an Ivy League
She is the youngest of twelve children. Her parents Isaac and Fannle Stubblefield were tenant
farmers in Texas.
She graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1967. Dr. Simmons
received the Ph.D. in romance languages and literature from Harvard University in 1973. She has
been on the faculty of the University of New Orleans, California State University Northridge,
Spelman College and Princeton University. Her teaching and research interests centered primarily
on literature of Francophone Africa and the Caribbean.
Dr. Simmons joined the Princeton administration in 1983. She remained at Princeton until 1990 when
she left for two years to serve as Provost at Spelman College. She returned to Princeton in 1992 as
Dr. Simmons recieved various awards such as the German DAAD and a Fulbright Fellowship to
France, the Centennial Medal from Harvard University, the Medal of Distinguished Service
from Columbia University Teachers College, and the National Urban League Leadership Award.
Dr. Simmons was named CBS Woman of the Year, an NBC Nightly News Most Inspiring
Woman, and Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year. In 1998, she was among those chosen for a
Vanity Fair photographic portfolio, Women of America: A Portrait of Influence and
Dr. Simmons holds honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities, including Amherst
College, Boston University, Northeastern University, Dillard, the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst, Dartmouth and Princeton.