Ruth Simmons, 1945–, American educator and college president, b. Grapeland, Tex., grad. Dillard Univ. (B.A., 1967) and Harvard (A.M., 1970; Ph.D., 1973). As a scholar she was primarily concerned with the francophone literature of Africa and the Caribbean. On the faculty and in the administration at Princeton from 1983 to 1990, she was associate dean of the faculty (1986–90). From 1990 to 1991, she was provost of Spelman College. She returned to Princeton in 1992, serving as vice provost. In 1995 she was named president of Smith College, becoming the first African-American woman to head a top-ranked college or university. While there she established the first women's college engineering program and founded Meridians, a journal addressing the concerns of minority women. Simmons left Smith in 2001 to become president of Brown Univ.