The Kinder Institute Forum returns on April 12 with Ruth J. Simmons, a leading voice in higher education. Simmons previously served as president of Prairie View A&M University, Smith College and Brown University, where she was the first Black woman to lead an Ivy League school. Starting April 1, she will join Rice University as a President's Distinguished Fellow. In her new role, she will work on a variety of programs across campus and advise the president’s office.
During this Kinder Institute Forum, Simmons will be in conversation with Ruth N. López Turley, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.
About Ruth J. Simmons
Ruth J. Simmons most recently was president of Prairie View A&M University. She was president of Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.
A French professor before entering university administration, Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and 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 important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.
Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Holdsworth Center. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honor: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011. In 2012, she was named a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honor.
About the Kinder Institute Forum
The Kinder Institute Forum lecture series brings thought leaders from around the world to Houston to share ideas about the most pressing urban issues facing us today. Previous KI Forum speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond, global urbanist Richard Florida, Kresge Foundation senior fellow Carol Coletta, sociologist Eric Klinenberg and New York City Park Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.
PNC is the presenting sponsor of the 2023 Kinder Institute Forum series.