PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In recognition of her first decade of visionary leadership, the faculty of Brown University has conferred its Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal on Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. The Rosenberger Medal, the highest honor the faculty can bestow, was voted in executive session at the May 3, 2011, faculty meeting.
The Rosenberger Medal is awarded through the Susan Colver Rosenberger Fund, established by Jesse L. Rosenberger in 1919 as a memorial to his wife, the daughter of Charles K. Colver, Class of 1842. His gift provided that from time to time a medal should be awarded for “specially notable or beneficial achievement.”
Previous recipients include Sheila Blumstein, the Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences and former interim president of Brown; Theodore Francis Green, former governor and senator from Rhode Island; Sen. Claiborne Pell, the longest-serving U.S. senator in Rhode Island history; Charles Evans Hughes, former chief justice of the United States; Charles Carpenter, early leader in AIDS research and international health; Artemis A.W. Joukowsky, chancellor emeritus, and Martha Sharp Joukowsky, professor emerita; Alexander Meiklejohn, educator and Amherst College president; Stephen Robert, the 19th chancellor of Brown University; John D. Rockefeller Jr.; Thomas J. Watson Jr., former vice chancellor; and Mary Emma Woolley, educator and Mt. Holyoke College president, among others.
Simmons is the fourth Brown president to receive the award, following Henry M. Wriston (11th president, 1937–55), Howard R. Swearer (15th president, 1977-88), and Vartan Gregorian (16th president, 1989-97).
The text of the citation, read as the medal was presented during the University’s 243rd Commencement exercises on the College Green:
Ruth J. Simmons, eighteenth president of Brown University, your decade of leadership on College Hill has been a time of visionary growth and accomplishment. You arrived at your office in University Hall on July 3, 2001, committed to excellence and deeply experienced in the values and aspirations of the academy. In the fall of your first year at Brown, as tragic events unfolded around us, you were a steady beacon of calm and resolve. You called upon the campus to look into our hearts, to challenge ourselves and each other, and to celebrate that which unites rather than divides cultures, traditions, and nations. Always looking out into the world and imagining how it can be improved, you focused with unrelenting intensity on what Brown does best — teaching, learning, and creating new knowledge. As the architect and champion of the Plan for Academic Enrichment, you led the University through a series of what had once seemed to be impossible goals — increasing the size of the faculty by over one-hundred positions, transforming the physical landscape and facilities of the campus, providing essential support for research and teaching, investing in graduate and medical education, and establishing Need Blind Admission as the policy of Brown University. Determined to see these goals become reality, you led the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of Brown: The Campaign for Academic Enrichment.
Throughout the past ten years, you have led by example. Unyielding in your desire to always do what is best for Brown students, faculty, and staff, you have deftly guided us through difficult financial straits, human tragedies far away and close to home, and numerous other challenges and obstacles. You have brought Brown closer to Providence and Rhode Island, and you courageously called for a sometimes painful but absolutely necessary self-examination of our institutional and community connections to slavery and justice. Always present is the example of your parents, who sought a better life through education for you and your siblings and who encouraged you to believe in yourself, and the teachers who saw the promise in you. Today you do the same for a new generation of students who will, inspired by you, make the world a better place, and for that we are deeply grateful.
We salute you as a colleague, and with gratitude for your distinguished service to Brown University and all that you have contributed to our ability to serve the higher good through the pursuit of knowledge, we the Faculty look forward to many more years of your leadership as we award you the highest honor that we can bestow, the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal.
Presented on May 29, 2011, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island