Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Ruth Simmons - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Ruth Simmons

Dr. Ruth J. Simmons speaking at the National Press Club (Source: Smithsonian Institution) Dr. Ruth J. Simmons speaking at the National Press Club (Source: Smithsonian Institution)
(KFVS) -

February is Black History Month, and in the spotlight for Feb. 5, 2016 is Dr. Ruth Simmons, the first African American to be named president of an Ivy League University, and the first African American woman to lead a major U.S. university.

Born the youngest of 12 children to a family of Texas sharecroppers, she earned her M.A. and PhD. in romance literature from Harvard.

Simmons taught as a professor and worked in several administrative positions at universities including the University of Southern California, Princeton and Spelman College.

Simmons became the first African American woman to head a major college or university in 1995 when she was appointed as president of Smith College. She lead Smith until 2001, during which she started the engineering program.

In 2001, Ruth Simmons took over as the 18th President of Brown University.

During her term she helped revise Brown's admission policies to ensure that students of all income levels are considered on an equal basis, and completed a $1.4 billion initiative to enhance Brown’s academic programs.

In 2001, Time Magazine named Simmons as America's best college president, and in 2002, Newsweek selected her as a Ms. Woman of the Year.

She stepped down as Brown's President, but remains teaching there as a professor of comparative literature and Africana studies.

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