This is the fifth installment of a series studying the persona of each Ivy League president—their bank accounts, their haircuts, and the extent to which they’re known and loved. I’ll be covering each president one by one, in order of who gets the most green for tending to the Ivy. Here’s Brown President Ruth Simmons—part time T.V. star, full time woman.
Ruth Simmons is a whole lotta woman.
For one thing, she used to be the president of Smith College, which is woman central in more ways than one. After having been named Newsweek’s “Ms. Woman of the Year” and Time’s best college president in America, the size of her stardom can easily be classified as double-D. I mean, this glamorous lady is BFF-status with India.Arie, with whom she shares the quality of not being the average girl from your video.
Simmons appeared with Arie at this year’s BET Honors—“looking absolutely radiant in a stunning and sexy black dress (64 and sexy? You show ‘em, Ruth!)”—and elbow rubbing with P. Diddy, Queen Latifah, and Whitney Houston. She also picked up an award for her achievements as an educator, including becoming the first African-American president of an Ivy League School.
“She is famous—you can see her on TV. I am proud…”
Indeed, Simmons has garnered the overwhelming affection of Brown’s students, who describe her as “a power woman,” “the greatest person in the world,” and “reminds me of my grandma.”
Seriously, though, she has lived an extraordinary life—growing up on a farm in Texas as the daughter of a sharecropper and part-time maid, Simmons attended a segregated public school in Houston, earned a scholarship to Dillard University, and went on to earn her Ph.D. in Romance languages at Harvard. Her inspirational story even earned her a spot among the ranks of “the best of humanity.”
The pay for being the best of humanity isn’t bad, either. In the 2007-08 academic year, Simmons raked in a grand total of $818,462—that’s $636,158 in pay and $182,304 in benefits, according to the latest tally from the Chronicle of Higher Education. But, given her divine goddess status, she graciously took a salary cut in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn. For the third year straight of decline in her paycheck, Simmons requested a 10 percent cut in 2009 and made $536,000 for the fiscal year that wrapped up over the summer.
But the best things in life are free. According to her Facebook fan page, her interests remain “being completely badass.” And Simmons has pretty much given up on shrimp cold turkey. As she told the Herald:
“We really don’t need to have shrimp at the faculty reception. What’s a shrimp or two?”
Though this IvyGate blogger and shellfish fan maintains that this may be a matter of debate, her intention is well-received.
And now, to satisfy our pseudo-mathematical intentions, here yet again is an entirely legitimate formula for us to calculate this Ivy president’s worth:
[Salary – (expected cost of haircut + limo fees) + Google hits + honorary degrees from Ivy schools received)] / BET awards =
[$536,000 – ($80 + $150) + 1,200,000+ 5)] / 1 =
1,735,775 Ivy President Points!
Next week: Princeton president Shirley Tilghman!