Brown University president to deliver commencement address
OU President David Boren announced the spring OU Commencement speaker during an on-campus press conference Wednesday in Gaylord Hall.
Brown University President Ruth Simmons will deliver the ceremony’s keynote address at 7 p.m. May 11 at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Boren said.
Simmons is the first black woman to head an Ivy League institution, Boren said.
“She has been a leader in … discussions not only about leadership in our education, but about the role of race in our society,” Boren said. “She has spoken often to congressional committees at the White House and several forums. She is a truly outstanding women in every respect.”
Simmons is the great-granddaughter of slaves and grew up on a farm in Texas as the youngest of 12 children, according to a press release.
“She overcame adversity and economic hardship to achieve academic excellence and personal success,” Boren said. “Her character and personal integrity make President Simmons an outstanding role model for our students.”
Simmons graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1967 and went on to Harvard University, where she earned a doctorate in Romance languages and literature in 1973, according to the release.
Simmons continued to serve as associate dean for the University of South California’s graduate school, and in 1983 joined the Princeton University administration, where she served for seven years, according to a release.
In 1995, she was named president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the U.S., where she instituted the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college, according to the release.
Simmons was recently appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.
“I can’t think of a better role model for our lives than someone who has come up the hard way,” Boren said. “She has earned everything she has, accomplished by her hard work and her intelligence and by her value of scholarship.”
AT A GLANCE: Honorary degrees
OU President David Boren announced the recipients of honorary degrees at OU’s 2012 Commencement Ceremony during an on-campus press conference held Wednesday.
Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, will receive an honorary degree, as well as serve as the commencement speaker. Simmons is noted for being a self-made woman who brought herself out of an impoverished upbringing to becoming recognized and awarded. She is the first black woman to be the president of an Ivy League college.
Anthony Shadid, who was a journalist and studied at OU for a period, will receive an honorary degree posthumously. Shadid died in February while covering the uprisings in Syria for The New York Times. Shadid received two Pulitzer Prizes and was nominated for a third for his international reporting. He had planned on attending the ceremony before his death.
James Gallogly is an oil and gas industry leader who serves as chief executive officer of LyondellBasell, a plastics refining company. Gallogly is active in higher education affairs and serves on the OU College of Engineering Board of Visitors. Gallogly earned a law degree from OU and is a member of the Texas, California and Oklahoma bar associations.
William Ross is an attorney from Oklahoma City who received a bachelors and law degree from OU. He serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma City-based Inasmuch Foundation and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Previously, Ross was co-chairman of the OU College of Law Board of Visitors and helped renovate the OU Law Center.
Randall Stephenson is the chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc. He has made AT&T one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. He also helped establish a program to donate $100 million for education. Stephenson is from Oklahoma City.