After stepping down as president of Prairie View A&M University in February, Ruth Simmons has registered sharp criticism at the Texas A&M University system, telling The Houston Chronicle she questions the ability of system leaders to support the historically Black university.
“I don’t believe that the Board of Regents of the system is at all capable of managing the affairs of Prairie View,” Simmons told the newspaper, adding that regents “have no interest in learning” about the lone HBCU in the 11-university system, which Prairie View A&M joined in 1973.
Simmons—who led Prairie View A&M for six years after prior presidential stints at Smith College and Brown University—resigned her role in February, four months before she was scheduled to step down, because system leaders limited her authority to hire senior staff members. System officials said at the time that Texas A&M policies prevent outgoing presidents from making top executive appointments.
Officials have pushed back on the comments made by Simmons.
“Truth is, the first time President Simmons was told ‘no’ over almost six years, she quit and abandoned Prairie View A&M’s students, faculty and staff,” a spokesperson told The Houston Chronicle. “Despite her public criticism of The Texas A&M University System, Chancellor [John] Sharp allowed her to speak at commencement after her resignation and authorized her signature to be attached to December’s diplomas. We wish her well in her new endeavors.”
Since departing Prairie View A&M, Simmons has been named a president’s distinguished fellow at Rice University and a senior adviser to the president of Harvard University on engagement with HBCUs. Additionally, Brown University recently added her name to its Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice in honor of her push to explore the university’s historical ties to slavery.