Brown President Simmons to Step Down After Year

Breaking news from the college blogosphere: beloved Brown University president and all-around superstar Ruth Simmons will step down at the end of the academic year, with plans to “take up projects that have been on hold far too long.” Whoah—whether or not you got into Brown, this one will be missed.

Simmons is the first female president of Brown and the first African-American president of any Ivy League school. Since assuming office in 2001, Ruth, as she’s affectionately known at Brown, has

implemented need-blind admission standards, raised over $1.6 billion, opened a new med school building in the Jewelry District, and enjoyed the revival of Brown University’s positioning in the national eye. Ruth has enjoyed a cult-like support for her position, often holding astronomical approval ratings due to her open office hours, her willingness to interact with students on a personal basis, and her general charisma. [MORE LINKS AND A LIL BIT O’ WESLEYAN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY AFTER THE JUMP]

Or so write friends over at Blog Daily Herald, where student admiration of the university president has been unmissable these past few years (and a lil bit familiar, I suppose). You can also scroll over there to read Simmons’ announcement, in which she promises to return to Brown as Professor of Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies.

When Wes president Doug Bennet handed in his 10 months notice after a similarly lengthy (but perhaps less idyllic) tenure, Wesleying did the obvious: it launched its own presidential search and arrived at Bradley Whitford ’81, a film and TV actor perhaps best known as Josh Lyman on The West Wing and as the bad guy from Billy Madison. Sorry, Mikey.

[Sidenote: I bet you didn’t know the bad guy in Billy Madison was an English and Theater major at Wesleyan. Why would anyone want that guy to be Wesleyan’s president? He was straight up evil.]

Brown now embarks on its own presidential search, to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Ruth Simmons. Here are a few helpful presidential suggestions, culled from Brown’s impressive pool of prominent alumni:

  • Bobby Jindal ’91, governor of Louisiana
  • Jordan Carlos ’01, Stephen Colbert’s “black friend.” (Key Wikipedia quote: “He first appeared on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when Colbert was complaining about having to work on that holiday, assuming that Alan was angry about it as well, which he wasn’t.”
  • Will Oldham ’92(??), better known as singer-songwriter Bonnie “Prince” Billy
  • Ira Glass ’92, host of This American Life, first cousin once removed of Phillip Glass

Good luck, Brown. Happy searching!

[Blog Daily Herald]

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