Ruth Simmons, the former president of Brown University who made history as the first African American president of an Ivy League institution, took the stand today in federal court in defense of Harvard’s admissions practices. The former Brown president and current Prairie View A&M University president received her graduate degrees from Harvard and you could say that she’s got an opinion or two on the merits of Affirmative Action. Simmons grew up in the segregated South and believes that our universities are made stronger by efforts to increase diversity. In fact, in powerful testimony, Simmons said, “It’s with great conviction that I say that we must continue to offer diverse undergraduate education to our young people. To save our nation.”
Ruth Simmons Takes Stand in Harvard’s Defense
As “WGBH” reports in a piece by Esteban Bustillos entitled “Harvard Starts Its Defense With Expert Analyst, First Black Ivy League President,” “Simmons, who described the struggles of growing up in the segregated South as a child, defended diversity on campus, saying the benefits flow to students, institutions and society. Simmons, who received her master’s and PhD from Harvard, said the benefits of diversity also impact the university’s prestige. ‘The standing that we enjoy around the world is surely due to our diversity,’ she said. Without diversity, she said, the Harvard’s mission would be ‘impoverished.'”
Ivy Coach salutes Ruth Simmons for voicing her support for Affirmative Action in such unequivocal terms. Simmons has devoted much of her life to promoting diversity in higher education and so her testimony was particularly powerful. It’s unsurprising that Harvard would choose this former Brown president to begin its defense. We absolutely agree with Simmons, that to preserve Affirmative Action is to save our nation. Well said, Ruth Simmons. Well said.
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