University News

Scholarship honors Simmons’ legacy

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2012

 

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform announced the founding of the Ruth J. Simmons Scholarship in Urban Education Policy April 20 to honor outgoing President Ruth Simmons. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a graduate student in the education department’s master’s in Urban Education Policy program. 

Simmons, who has been chair of the Annenberg Institute’s Board of Overseers since 2001, was instrumental to the graduate program’s creation, encouraging the Annenberg Institute and the education department to combine their resources, said Kenneth Wong, professor of education and chair of the department, as well as founding director of the Urban Education Program.

“She has set the challenge to both units to work together and come up with a coherent plan, which we met and exceeded,” he said. 

The strengths of the education department and the Annenberg Institute are complementary and create a unique program that can approach issues in urban school reform from both theoretical and practical angles, he said. 

The program – a year-long curriculum that includes a nine-month internship – has met great success since it began in the summer of 2006 and has seen the applicant pool triple as it established a national reputation, he said. 

“President Simmons has mentioned many, many times how teachers in her life have opened up opportunities for her,” Wong said. “Given her background in growing up in a challenging environment and the fact that public schools have become an avenue for her success along the way, I think honoring her with a scholarship in urban education policy is very, very appropriate.” He added that Simmons has directly influenced many of the applicants to the program. 

Scholarship recipients will be chosen by a committee composed of faculty and staff from both the Annenberg Institute and the education department and “will have to be someone who exemplifies President Simmons’ deep commitment to equity and excellence,” said Warren Simmons, executive director of the Annenberg Institute. 

A permanent annual budget allocation from the Annenberg Institute’s endowment has been established to fund the scholarship, Warren Simmons said. 

“The scholarship holder will have the long-term commitment to support improvement in urban education systems,” Wong said. “So we are looking at this as a significant investment.”