Distributed August 30, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis



Class of 2005: Opening Convocation

President Simmons to welcome and address 1,381 first-year students
Brown President Ruth J. Simmons will officially open the new academic year and welcome the Class of 2005 during the 238th Opening Convocation Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001, at 11 a.m. on The College Green. Presiding at her first Opening Convocation as Brown’s 18th president, Simmons also will deliver the keynote address.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons will declare the academic year officially open and welcome 1,381 members of the Class of 2005 in the University’s 238th Opening Convocation on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001, on The College Green.

(The full text of the President’s Opening Convocation Address will be available online following the convocation.)

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with a procession of faculty, administrators and students through the Van Wickle Gates. By tradition the gates are opened just twice a year – inward each fall to admit new students and outward each May as graduates take their leave of the University.

James W. Head III, professor of geological sciences, will serve as mace bearer for the academic procession. President Simmons will deliver the ceremony’s keynote address.

In the event of rain, the Opening Convocation will be held in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center.

The Class of 2005

  • Brown welcomes 1,381 freshmen of the Class of 2005. They were selected from a pool of 16,606 applicants.


  • Women comprise 55 percent of the incoming class.


  • The class includes 168 high school valedictorians and 79 salutatorians.


  • Forty-nine U.S. states and 38 foreign countries are represented in the Class of 2005. The largest percentage of students hails from New York (15 percent), followed by California (12 percent). Twenty-four percent of the class is from New England, 14 percent is from the mid-Atlantic states, 12 percent is from the South and 7 percent is from the Midwest.


  • Twenty-nine percent of the class are minority students. Thirteen percent are Asian-American, seven percent are African-American, 8 percent are Latino and 1 percent are Native American. Twelve percent did not identify their ethnic origin.


  • Thirty-seven percent of new freshmen intend to study science and math, 26 percent humanities, 20 percent social sciences and 9 percent engineering. Eight percent of the students have not yet chosen an area of study.

Ruth J. Simmons

Ruth J. Simmons will be officially inaugurated as the 18th president of Brown during a ceremony Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14, 2001. She assumed her new duties July 3, 2001, after serving as president of Smith College in Northampton, Mass., since 1995. She also holds appointment as professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of Africana Studies. The first African American to lead an Ivy League institution, she succeeded E. Gordon Gee, now chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and Interim President Sheila E. Blumstein.

Raised in Texas as the 12th child of sharecroppers, Simmons drew upon strong family and community support to pursue her education, earning her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude at Dillard University in New Orleans (1967) and her master’s and doctorate in Romance languages and literatures at Harvard University (1970 and 1973). After teaching and administrative service at the University of New Orleans, California State University in Northridge and the University of Southern California, she settled at Princeton University in 1983, where she directed Afro-American studies and became associate dean of the faculty. She served two years as provost at Spelman College in Atlanta, then returned to Princeton as vice provost, a position she held until her move to Smith in 1995.

Simmons has worked tirelessly toward opening higher education – particularly elite private institutions – to disadvantaged minorities. She has spoken and written on a wide array of educational and public policy issues, including diversity, liberal arts, science education, and the role of women in society. Her achievements in higher education have brought her dozens of honors and awards including Danforth and Fulbright fellowships and honorary doctorates from numerous colleges and universities.

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