Ruth's Reach

January 4th, 2012

Upon reading the news that President Ruth Simmons is stepping down as president—and, as always, looking forward to receiving and thoroughly reading the BAM—I was reminded of how deeply and humbly proud I am of President Simmons's accomplished and historic tenure at Brown ("Ruth Steps Down," Elms, September/October). It has been an amazingly exciting and personally gratifying experience to have attended her inauguration weekend in October 2001 and to have had the pleasure of watching her on, among other places, the BET Awards and Tavis Smiley's syndicated talk show.

Muchas Gracias! Thank you, President Simmons, for all you've done for Brown and for education throughout your stellar career. Best wishes in all your future personal and professional endeavors.

Michelle D. Smith '86


President Simmons's reach has extended well beyond Brown's campus. She has been an inspiration to many of us for whom attending Brown is but a fond memory, and she has managed to make us feel that we remain an integral part of the school. She is truly an amazing and exceptional person. I have enjoyed every moment of her presidency. In fact, my only lament is that her presidency did not begin earlier, so that I could have had her signature, rather than Gordon Gee's, on my degree.

Tony Pitts '98
Round Rock, Tex.


I was able to attend Brown because of a scholarship, and so President Simmons's insistence on need-blind admission to Brown is a proud milestone for me. My husband and I met at Brown and married in Manning Chapel. My son and daughter-in-law are Brown alumni. We love Brown and have been energized by Ruth Simmons even more. When I first heard the students cheering and chanting at Commencement, "Ruth, Ruth, Ruth!" I realized even more how much she has touched the University and all who love it. We will miss her.

Jean Lahage Cohen '75
Manhasset, N.Y.


Ruth Simmons gave me more hope for Brown than any preceding president, and for me that starts in 1958 with Barnaby Keeney. Except for Vartan Gregorian, who was also a shining light, they've all been conservative white men. I'll cop to being white and Jewish, but I hope that, as a result of the success of Gregorian and Simmons and the disaster named Gordon Gee, Brown has learned a few things about how to select a president. Good luck.

Philip Jay Lewitt '63
Krabi, Thailand

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January/February 2012