Brown University To Name President

Thursday, November 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Brown University has chosen as its next leader Smith College president Ruth Simmons, who will become the first black to head an Ivy League school.

Brown University scheduled a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce its new president after the board of trustees votes to confirm Simmons, a university source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

She will be introduced to students at a campus assembly later in the afternoon.

The story was first reported Wednesday by The Brown Daily Herald student newspaper. ``We're very sorry to see her leave,'' Charles Staelin, a Smith dean for academic development, told the paper.

Brown has been seeking a president since February, when Gordon Gee announced he was resigning to take the top post at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He had been at Brown just two years, and his short stay was criticized by administrators, faculty, alumni and students.

Simmons, 54, became the first black woman to lead Smith, an elite 2,500-student women's college in Northampton, Mass., in 1995.

She was the youngest of 12 children of a Texas sharecropper father and a mother who worked as a domestic. Simmons earned a scholarship to Dillard University in New Orleans and graduated with highest honors in 1967.

She earned a Ph.D. in Romance languages from Harvard University, and worked several years at Princeton University as a teacher and administrator.

During her tenure at Smith, the school's endowment nearly doubled to $900 million. Simmons also established an engineering program, the first at a women's school.

In an interview with The New York Times, Simmons said she also took pride in her less flashy accomplishments, like creating the post of provost.

``That's the kind of thing I like, the hidden things,'' she told the Times. ``It's like cleaning. Some people clean just enough so that what you see looks good. I clean so that you can move the chair out of the way and not find dust bunnies under it.''

Brown, which has 7,000 students, has an endowment of $1.5 billion, among the smallest endowments of the Ivy League schools. Simmons said that might be too small to accomplish what she wanted.

``I know that sounds like a billionaire complaining he's not as rich as Bill Gates,'' she said. ``It's not a dire situation, by any stretch.''


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