Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, one of the nation’s largest historically Black colleges and universities located 50 miles northwest of Houston, will step down at the end of February, four months earlier than her expected resignation date.
Simmons had previously tendered her resignation dated June 1.
The cause of Simmons’ resignation comes from a disagreement with Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp regarding hiring during the remaining months of Simmons’ tenure as president. In a letter spread across campus on Friday (February 10), Simmons said she was recently informed “she could only continue as president with limited presidential authority.”
“My immediate response was that I could not and would not agree to being president in name only,” she stated. “No enduring good can arise from subservience to low standards and expectations.”
In a statement, Sharp said outgoing presidents in the Texas A&M system couldn’t hire senior staff or deans on an interim basis. When informed Sharp would
“I am sorry she chose this path, but I am forever grateful for her service at Prairie View A&M University and look forward to even greater things in the future,” Sharp said.
Simmons became the university President in 2017, and during her tenure, she increased donations by 40%, and MacKenzie Scott gifted the university $50 million in 2020. A Houston native, Simmons has a decorated career in education, previously working at Smith College in Massachusetts and Brown University, where she became the first Black woman to head an Ivy League school.
“I will support the efforts of faculty, staff and students who seek the best for themselves and their university,” Simmons said. “We must not be held hostage to how others choose to see us or treat us, but, instead, continue to chart our own path demonstrating the pride, commitment and integrity that defines us.”
Incoming president Tomikia LeGrande is set to assume the position on June 1. She is currently the vice president for strategy, enrollment management and student success at Virginia Commonwealth University.
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