Former Prairie View A&M President Ruth Simmons tells the truth to authorities


  • Humbrel Marshall is meeting with former Prairie View A&M president Ruth Simmons, who stepped down in February. She discusses her plans and the impact of politics on education.

  • Amid the state’s takeover of Houston ISD, experts at the Houston Educational Research Consortium say the study clearly points to past takeovers at the national level.

Simmons steps down as president of Prairie View A&M early

Ruth Simmons, Ph.D. Former President of Prairie View A&M University and Distinguished Fellow of the current President of Rice University. (KPRK)

After six years of running Prairie View A&M University, President Ruth Simmons has decided to retire effective June 1. These plans quickly changed over the course of a few days in January.

“The system has reached out to me and asked me to stop making appointments,” Simmons told Houston Newsmakers this week with Humbrel Marshall. Saying that she expected to serve as acting president until her retirement date, she asked for clarification and received no response from the Texas A&M chancellor.

The next actions that happened were unexpected and led to her early departure. She talks about what happened to hasten her departure.

Other interesting comments:

On the A&M Board of Trustees: “There’s a pretty big difference between what the Regents understand about Prairie View and what Prairie View is supposed to do.”

On attempts to cut African American studies on college campuses: “Universities are in the business of telling the truth and promoting facts, not nonsense.”

On the potential takeover of HISD by the state: “Non-specialists going to schools trying to figure out what to do is very wrong.”

She talks MUCH more about the impact of politics on education, her accomplishments and the A&M prairies, and new positions at Rice University and Harvard. She joins a Kinder Institute expert to talk about HISD and other topics this week. THIS EDUCATIONAL DREAM PANEL IS OPTIONAL FOR NEWMAKERS.

Kinder Institute experts on school district takeover failures

Erin Baumgartner, Ph.D., Director of HERC at the Kinder Institute at Rice University, Ruth Lopez Turley, Ph.D. Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Studies (KPRK)

As the Texas Education Agency considers acquiring the Houston Independent School District, Houston Educational Research Consortium (HERC) research experts at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research say the study clearly points to past national-level takeover attempts.

“They have to think there is something in their plan that will be different from what takeovers across the country look like,” said Erin Baumgartner, Ph.D. and director of HERC. “What we see on average is they tend to do little to support students and improve their results.”

Ruth Lopez Turley, PhD, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Studies.

“We want to make sure people are aware of what the research says about government takeovers, which is not very promising,” she said.

Lopez Turley, Baumgartner and Simmons are participating this week. HOUSTON NEWSMAKERS EXTRA.

For more information on this week’s Houston Newsmakers

· Ruth Simmons, PhD, Presidential Distinguished Fellow, Rice University

· Web site:

· Web site:

· Ruth Lopez Turley, PhD, Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research

· Web site:

· Erin Baumgartner, PhD, director of HERC at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research

· Web site:

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