Simmons Steps Down

July 19th, 2012

I congratulate President Ruth Simmons for a job well done. However, in reading her interview in the May/June BAM, I would like to correct one misperception (“The Simmons Legacy”).

Simmons despairs at having to “downsize” her expectations for new buildings for the medical school and the cognitive, linguistic, and psychology departments. But in a recent trip to the campus, I saw the renovated Metcalf building and applaud it as a resounding success. Gone are the horrid and acrid-smelling labs and the decrepit lecture hall. In their place is a stunning piece of work, with gathering spaces for students and a sparkling auditorium. In fact, the entire campus left me in appreciation: the lovely Walk between the main campus and Pembroke, the new English department buildings evoking the charms of Fones Alley, the splendid renovations of J. Walter Wilson and Faunce House, and the spectacular Nelson Fitness Center, an homage to Brown’s colonial architecture.

President Simmons leaves a great legacy. But she should be equally pleased at the beauty of the campus and the effort it took to respect Brown’s tradition.

Richard Brust ’75
Flossmoor, Ill.



Since entering Brown in 1966 with fear, trembling, and hope, I have seen numerous presidents pass through the Van Wickle Gates. When President Simmons was appointed, a number of my fellow alumni contacted me for an opinion. “Let’s see what she does,” I replied. She has done much good for my alma mater. May President Emeritus Simmons have much success and personal happiness in the tasks that lie ahead in her life.

Richard Funk ’70



I was disappointed with President Ruth Simmons’s response to the ROTC debate in her farewell interview (“The Simmons Legacy,” May/June). This debate is not about Brown’s “patriotism” or the “symbolism” of allowing an ROTC unit back on campus. This is about students and do they have an opportunity, a real opportunity, to pursue a military career while at Brown? The lack of an ROTC unit on campus means no scholarship money, no college course credits, and no support system for students wishing to pursue a military commission. Any support comes from Providence College and their Army ROTC unit. It is because of another school that anyone from Brown graduates with a military commission—how disgraceful for an Ivy League institution. I admire the tenacity and endurance of those newly commissioned Army officers who achieved their goals despite an archaic and hypocritical policy at their own school. If there is a “litmus test,” as President Simmons claims, it is being applied by the University on the military. It is quite frankly embarrassing to see the excuses and reasoning behind such an indefensible policy. You cannot claim to “support the interests of any students who wish to have careers in the military” while barring ROTC. This is not about “service to your country,” this is about doing what is right for your students. Give them a true choice to become military officers. Allow ROTC back on campus and stop being on the wrong side of history.

Martin T. Velazquez ’94
Carrollton, Tex.

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Related Issue
July/August 2012