“Leading Ably from Difference”: Honoring President Ruth Simmons on Presidents’ Day

Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons

Each year on Presidents’ Day, we examine the narrative of US presidential history.  While important, it also seems worthy to expand the conversation to consider the various ways in which one can assume the office of a president, especially if that president is a woman.

Last fall, a Forbes article reported that the American Council on Education indicates that 23% of college presidents are women. While Americans know we have never had a woman President, how many of us know that half of the eight Ivy League universities are headed by a woman?  Harvard is led by Drew Gilpin Faust, Princeton by Shirley Tilghman, the University of Pennsylvania by Amy Gutmann, and Brown by Ruth J. Simmons.  How many of us look to these women as models of leadership for issues that are important to us, especially as educators? Continue reading