Simmons Cubed

Viewing the University from every angle.

As we start our second academic year at Simmons University, I continue to feel that we are experiencing not just ordinary change, but the kind of renaissance that happens only occasionally in the life of an institution. Throughout the “academic redesign” that established Simmons University, launched the four new colleges, and brought in four new deans, I have focused on President Drinan’s 100-year vision for Simmons, and I’ve worked to keep the community focused on the possibilities ahead.  

I adopted one image that helped guide my thinking about what is important and enduring in our community. I suggested people think about Simmons as a cube. The four sides of the cube are four interdisciplinary colleges. They all have to attach to the base of the cube, which is the undergraduate program. We don’t want to have one dean and one faculty unit caring about undergraduates—we want all the deans and their faculties to care about the success of undergraduate education! Likewise, all faculty and deans must be committed to excellent graduate education: Graduate programs are the top of the cube.  

“Deans, faculty, and staff are making amazing things happen together inside the new colleges,” writes Katie Conboy, Provost and Senior Vice President.

Now that the “cube” is populated, deans, faculty, and staff are making amazing things happen together inside the new colleges—amplifying existing academic strengths and nurturing new ones. As people get to know each other in their new configurations, they are growing innovative collaborations and building different alliances. 

Many of the most important happenings at the university won’t occur just within the sides of the cube. They’ll materialize at the corners, where people lean in to imagine some entirely new directions. And we are already seeing those kinds of collaborations at work on topics such as enhanced undergraduate STEM education; interprofessional education for graduate students; media and information sources in the age of fake news and information overload; leadership development; and health equity.  

These are just a few examples of how Simmons is fulfilling our vision to “become a beacon of leadership in the world of higher education; a resource to our nation and world; known for our expertise in fields that improve the human condition; sought out for the findings of our highly reputable research and seen as the global expert in educating women for their own empowerment; and leadership.” Indeed, we are learning something important: a cube is not four things—or six. It is one. You can see it whole. You can apprehend its shape and its contours simultaneously. The cube can accentuate both our rich differences and our unity. For me, it’s a reminder that we can have multiple facets and still be “one Simmons.”