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ACE Honors Ruth J. Simmons for Lifetime Achievement; Beverly Daniel Tatum Receives Donna Shavlik Award

March 10, 2012


ACE presented Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University (RI), with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women's Leadership Dinner during the association's 94th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College (GA), was also honored with the Donna Shavlik Award for her ongoing commitment to women's issues in higher education at the event.

"These two women are extraordinary leaders," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. "Under the presidencies of Ruth Simmons and Beverly Tatum, Brown University and Spelman College, already highly regarded institutions, have risen even higher in their standing among colleges and universities. There is no doubt that they have opened doors for many women, especially women of color. But regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, they are outstanding role models for all of us."

Simmons' groundbreaking record of service and pending retirement in June 2012 inspired ACE to honor her with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tatum is being honored with the Donna Shavlik Award, which is named for a former longtime director at ACE who continues to advocate for women in higher education. It honors an individual whose leadership, both at colleges and universities and in national positions, has demonstrated a sustained and continuing commitment to the advancement of women through actions or initiatives enhancing women's leadership development, career development, campus climate and mentoring opportunities for women.

"This is truly a special evening and a momentous occasion as we honor not only the contributions of these two women but also take a moment to reflect on the historic work ACE has done in this area," said Diana Córdova, assistant vice president for Leadership Programs at ACE. "The young people these leaders inspire give me great hope that we will successfully continue our mission of increasing diversity and inclusion in higher education."

Helene Cooper, White House correspondent for The New York Times and author of The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood, delivered the keynote address at the celebratory dinner.

A Lifetime of Breaking Barriers

Ruth J. Simmons became the first African American to lead an Ivy League institution when she was sworn in as the 18th president of Brown University on July 3, 2001. Under her leadership, Brown has made new investments to secure its standing as one of the world's finest research universities and also has focused strongly on international initiatives.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons also holds an appointment as a professor of comparative literature and of Africana Studies at Brown. She graduated from Dillard University (LA) and completed her Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures at Harvard University (MA). She served in various administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University (NJ) and Spelman College. When she became president of Smith College (MA) in 1985, she was the first African-American woman to lead that institution. She launched a number of initiatives at Smith including an engineering program, the first at an American women's college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship, the 2001 President's Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the 2010 Foreign Policy Association award. She was named Time magazine's best college president in 2001. She is a member of numerous boards, including Dillard University's Board of Trustees, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the board of Texas Instruments. She has been awarded numerous honorary degrees. She was also appointed by President Obama as a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.

A Scholar and a Leader

Beverly Daniel Tatum has served as president of Spelman College since 2002. Her tenure as president has been marked by a period of great innovation and growth. Spelman College, long recognized as the leading educator of African-American women, is now ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation.

An accomplished administrator, Tatum is also widely recognized as a race relations expert and leader in higher education. Her specialties include racial identity development and the role of race in the classroom. Tatum was awarded the prestigious Brock International Prize in Education in 2005 for her innovative leadership in the field. Her best-selling titles include Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007) and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (1997). She is also the author of Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community (1987).

Tatum holds a B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University (CT) and an M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She also holds an M.A. in religious studies from Hartford Seminary (CT). She has served as a faculty member at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Westfield State College (MA), and Mount Holyoke College (MA), where she also served as dean and acting president. The recipient of numerous honorary degrees, Tatum is also a fellow at the American Psychological Association.

Recent Recipients of the Donna Shavlik Award:

2011 – Susan L. Perry, pioneer in the integration of computing and library services
2010 – Blenda Wilson, former president of California State University, Northridge, and of the Nellie Mae Foundation
2009 – Peggy R. Williams, president emerita of Ithaca College (NY)
2008 – Adrian Tinsley, president emerita, Bridgewater State College (MA)
2007 – Yolanda Moses, special assistant to the chancellor for excellence and diversity, University of California, Riverside, and former president, City College of New York
2006 – Donna Shalala, president, University of Miami
2005 – Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president, Association of American Colleges and Universities
2004 – Bette E. Landman, president, Arcadia University (PA)

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