Ruth J. Simmons was sworn in as the 18th president of Brown University on July 3, 2001. Under her leadership, Brown is making new investments to secure its standing as one of the world's finest research universities.
A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons also holds an appointment as a professor of comparative literature and of Africana Studies at Brown. She graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans and completed her Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures at Harvard. She served in various administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women's college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of initiatives including an engineering program, the first at an American women's college.
Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship, the 2001 President's Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, and the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal. She has been a featured speaker in many public venues, including the White House, the World Economic Forum, the National Press Club, the American Council on Education, and the Phi Beta Kappa Lecture at Harvard University. She is President of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, an Honorary Fellow at Selwyn College at Cambridge University, a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees, and serves on a number of boards, including Texas Instruments and The Goldman Sachs Group, and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees. She was recently appointed by President Obama as a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.