Female Frontiers QuestChat Archive
Date: February 24, 1999
Featuring: Ruth Simmons
President, Smith College
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 09:30:05
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Female Frontiers/Black
History Month chat with Dr. Ruth Simmons from Smith College will begin
at 10:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time. Be sure you have read Ruth's profile
before joining this chat.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 09:30:30
Once the chat begins, Ruth will attempt to answer as many of your questions
as she can, but please be patient. We have many people registrered for
today's chat. Therefore, today's chat will be MODERATED to help Ruth keep
up with our questions. This means that only a few questions would be posted
to the chat room at a time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear
on your screen immediately during moderation. They will be held in our
chat queue and posted as Ruth answers those ahead of you.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 09:30:59
Remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided before posting messages
to the chat room. Once you've done this, please let us know that you have
logged on for today's chat.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 09:32:09
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you take a few minutes
to let us know what you thought about it. For your convenience, you may
use our online feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.
We look forward to hearing from you!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 10:01:07
Hello and welcome to today's Female Frontiers/Black History Month chat
with Ruth Simmons from Smith College. Ruth J. Simmons assumed the presidency
of Smith College on July 1, 1995. With that move, she became the first
African-American woman to head a top-ranked college or university in the
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 10 - 10:01:41
And now, here is Ruth Simmons to answer your questions.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 15 -
RE: [Jes] What kinds of duties do you
have being the President of a major University?
Hello, Jes. The duties of a president are quite varied. We hire people,
make sure that there are good courses and faculty to teach them, make
sure the budget is sound, raise money and try to keep a lot of different
groups happy. We work really hard as a team. No one person can do everything
that needs to be done to make sure a college is thriving. So I am happy
to work with a group of people who help me do all those things.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 17 -
RE: [Crissy] Dr. Simmons- What advice
do you give to young women, when asked how they too can reach their goals?
The advice I give most often to young women is to work hard and believe
in themselves. Hard work is always a necessary ingredient if you want
to achieve anything important in life. If you are going to be a stay at
home mom, it takes hard work to do that well. The same is true if you
want to be a good basketball player or a good scientist.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 20 -
RE: [Crissy/Smith2003] Dr. Simmons-
When you were growing up what did you aspire to be? Did you ever think
you'd be who you are now? Or did you always know?
Crissy, I did not always know what I wanted to be. I loved school, however,
and I knew that I always wanted to keep learning, whatever I did. I also
wanted to be openminded in case something came along that I was especially
suited to do. I always had exceptional teachers so I naturally thought
it would be good to become a teacher. I am very pleased that I decided
to remain in college for the rest of my life; it's a great place to be
because I am still learning new things every day.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 22 -
RE: [Frances] Who do you feel influenced
you most in achieving higher education?
My mom influenced me most because she was a strong person who taught me
to work hard at everything I tried. Teachers were also very important
in my going to college. They helped me to believe in myself and, of course,
when you believe, there is so much more that you can do.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 24 -
RE: [Angel] Dr.Simmons, When you were
growing up, were you ever discriminated against because of your intellect
and race? In other words did anyone find you offensive? What did you do?
Angel, when I grew up in the forties and fifties, racial discrimination
was commonplace throughout our country. I could not go to restaurants
or theaters o do most of the things that young people today can do. But,
as you know, some very brave people like Martin Luther King worked to
eliminate these problems. Today, someone who is treated unfairly can file
complaints of discrimination, file lawsuits, work to create new laws protecting
people who are treated unfairly and so on. So, when I saw that other people
were working so hard to change society so that I would not be discriminated
against, it gave me hope that one day things would be better. And they
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 27 -
RE: [christopher] How are you associated
Hello, Christopher. I am not directly associated with NASA. They have
asked me to be on the chat room because I work with young people who are
interested in science and who are working to become the kinds of scientists
that NASA employs. Are you interested in science?
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 30 -
RE: [Tina] Was it easy being the last
of 12 children?
Tina, it was very easy. I was spoiled rotten by my older sisters and brothers.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 31 -
RE: [Jes] What inspired you to be a
Jes, I wanted to be in a position to help people and this seemed a good
way to do that. I hope you will want to help people through the profession
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 34 -
RE: [Joesif] what does your family think
of your accomplishments?
My family has told me that they are proud of me but they also tell me
not to get too arrogant!
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 35 -
RE: [MrPattersonsclass] Do you feel
safe as being the president. If you were not the president what else would
you like to do for a living?
Yes, I feel safe being the President. If I weren't president, I'd like
to be an opera singer. But, the problem is that I can't sing!
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 39 -
RE: [Angel] What does one of the most
important people in education do in her spare time? Do you participate
in charities, fundraisers, perhaps causes!?
Angel, I have very little spare time. I like to spend time with my family,
of course. Also, I love art and so I go to museums a good deal. I also
like sports events. I'm going to the rodeo in Texas this weekend!
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 40 -
RE: [Tina] What was it like being the
first woman to head a major University?
I'm not the first woman to do what I do. There are many exceptional women
who lead colleges today. I am the first black woman to lead one of the
seven sister colleges.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 41 -
RE: [MrPattersonsclass] Dr. Simmons,
when you were in school was there a teacher that motivated you to become
a leading president? What subjects must I take to be a presidentof the
future while I am still in fifth grade today?
Good afternoon, Mr. Patterson and class! The advice I would give fifth
graders about preparing to be a president? First, take school seriously.
Study all subjects well because knowledge accumulates over many years.
Never turn you r nose up at a subject. Always go to museums and plays.
Listen to many different kinds of music. Practice speaking well. Be a
good listener. Most of all, do everything you can to stay in school and
make good grades!
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 46 -
RE: [Jermy] Did you find college hard
when you were a student?
Jermy, I didn't find it hard because I worked very hard at it and I was
well prepared because I didn't goof off in high school. So people who
prepare themselves well will enjoy college. There are lots of things to
do: sports, lectures, parties, interesting classes, and so on.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 47 -
RE: [Tina] What made you or Smith's
want to start an all-women engineering program?
We want an engineering program because there are still so few women engineers.
We think it is important for us to encourage women to study this field
because engineers are important to the future progress of our country.
They give us advances in communication, computing, product quality and
so many other things. Are you interested in engineering?
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 48 -
RE: [Brian1] What challenges do you
face during your job as president?
Brian, the biggest challenge is getting everything done. I work very late
and on week-ends and, still, I don't have time to complete everything.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 49 -
RE: [Angel] Do you belive that maybe
the U.S will ever have a Female President?
I believe the United States will have a woman president in the next two
decades and I hope sooner rather than later!!
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 54 -
RE: [jorja] were you the only one of
twelve children to get an education?
Jorja, one of my brother went to college. He is now a basketball coach.
One of my sisters, at the age of 55, has just gone to college. It's never
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 55 -
RE: [Dave] Have you met anyone famous.
I've met lots of famous people, including the President and the First
Lady. But I enjoy meeting everyday people who are kind and good most of
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 56 -
RE: [MrPattersonsclass] Can a shy person
become a president? What kind of behavior must a president show? asks
Rakeem, a shy person can be president as long as they work at overcoming
the reluctance to socialize and speak out. I am basically a home body
(someone who likes to stay at home) but I am able to participate in all
of the activities that a president does because I work at overcoming my
inhibitions. Everybody has something to overcome in order to become successful.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 61 -
RE: [Angel] Something simple! What kind
of cuisine do you like to eat?
My favorite cuisine is mexican and southwestern (I grew up in Texas.)
I also like French cuisine and creole cooking from New Orleans. What do
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 62 -
RE: [samantha] since you went to an
all biack elementary school how did you not see that it was segregated?
I was in an all black elementary school because black and white children
were not allowed to go to the same schools at that time. Because I had
wonderful teachers, I did not focus on the fact that it was segregated;
I tried to get the best out of the education I had access to.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 63 - 10:49:44
Once again, at the conclusion of the chat, be sure to share your thoughts
with us at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 64 -
RE: [Joy] What is the most stressfull
part about your job?
The most stressful part of my job is my schedule. I work very long hours
with very little time for rest, relaxation and reading. And I love to
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 65 -
RE: [katy] Do you beleave it took you
longer to achieve your current position than it would a male?
I don't know. I have male friends who have not become president of a college
so I guess I did o.k.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 68 -
RE: [Angel] Conditions have been worsening
with todays youth! How do you feel about the way teens are being brought
up today? What do you think the solution could be? Are there any difference
or similarities to when you were brought up?
When I was young, my parents or family members were around all the time.
Sometimes, I think young people today need more adults in their lives
to fuss at them, set them on the right course, help them with problems,
and so on. In my family, we were always corrected immediately if we did
something wrong but we also knew that we could count on our friends and
teachers and family members. So I think the solution is stronger, closer
communities helping those who need help, assisting young people as they
grow up. We also need to help families who do not have the means to provide
oversight for their children.
[ RuthSimmons/SmithCollege - 71 -
RE: [Brian1] Do you have any other goals
for the future now that you are president of Smith's?
My goals for the future include spending more time with my family, doing
some volunteer work in schools where I can continue to encourage young
people to achieve, and having some fun!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 69 - 10:58:35
EVERYONE, we will now be ending our chat with Dr. Simmons from Smith College.
We would like to thank you for joining us today and for your great questions.
Be sure to share your thoughts about today's chat with us at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 70 - 10:59:21
We would especially like to thank Dr. Ruth Simmons for her thoughtful
responses to our questions, and for sharing her valuable time and expertise
with us today.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 72 - 10:59:46
We hope you can join us for our final Black History Month Chats with Oran
Cox and Paul Langston from NASA Ames Research Center. The chat with Oran
Cox is scheduled for Thursday, February 25 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Standard
Time. The chat with Paul Langston is also scheduled for Thursday, February
25 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Check the Black History Month
schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/special/mlk99 to learn
more about this chat. Also check our schedule of events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events
to learn about other upcoming chats with NASA experts.