Facing Forward

As you read this magazine, it will be almost three months since we marked a significant milestone: becoming Simmons University. I’ve found that following true transformational moments, it is rarely “business as usual.” We now have the opportunity to learn from our past, build on what’s working and rethink what we can do better.

Our academic redesign process shows us the power of thinking big—with our four colleges offering our students more educational opportunities and the support to explore beyond their course of study. We’re now applying this broader perspective to our efforts on the administrative side of the house—making sure we’re collaborating across functional areas and expanding outreach to our stakeholders—resulting in more inclusive processes that advance us further in reaching our goals.

One of those goals, as outlined in our 2022 strategy, is “Community Culture Redesign,” as we seek to “foster a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community.” We began this work under Cheryl Howard’s leadership and with her retirement, the work continues under our new Senior Vice President for Organizational Culture, Inclusion and Equity, Debra Pérez.

These efforts don’t belong to one person or one office. Every Simmons community member has a part to play, and this charge is embedded in our mission of inclusive leadership, social justice and civic engagement. These ideals are certainly reflected in the approaches of our new deans: Stephanie Berzin, College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice; Marie desJardins, College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences; and Brian Norman, The Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts and Humanities.

President Helen Drinan and graduating seniors at the 2018 Commencement Recognition Celebration in May (Photograph by Cheryl Richards).

Just as we welcome these new leaders to campus, we take note of two significant retirements: Judy Beal, dean of the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, and Marianne Lord, vice president for Advancement. While we’ll celebrate Judy in an upcoming magazine, this is the moment to recognize Marianne’s service to Simmons.

As many of you know, Marianne led the successful completion of our largest ever fundraising campaign. “Making Education Work” reached its original target of $85 million one year early under Marianne’s leadership, and then exceeded $100 million by the end of 2015. Marianne’s ability to engage our donors and friends by telling the Simmons story will be difficult to duplicate—as will her personal passion and love for Simmons. We wish her well in this next phase of her life, and congratulate and thank her for her exceptional accomplishments and dedication to Simmons.

Helen G. Drinan ’75MS, ’78MBA, President