Campus Crusader

Like university presidents of an earlier era, Ruth Simmons is the moral compass of the school she governs

There was a time when big-league university presidents really mattered. The New York Times covered their every move. Presidents, the real ones, sought their counsel. For Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower, being head of Princeton and Columbia, respectively, was a stepping-stone to the White House. Today, though, the job of college president is less and less removed from that of the Avon lady (except the house calls are made to the doorsteps of wealthy alums).

Ruth Simmons, the newly installed president of Brown University and the first African American to lead an Ivy League school, is a throwback to the crusading...

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