Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten took office as President of Simmons University today, July 1.
“I am so grateful to the board of trustees for giving me the time and opportunity to serve the university at this historic time,” said Wooten in a video message posted on Simmons’ Youtube account this morning. Wooten was unanimously elected by the board of trustees and is the first Black president of the university.
“After twelve years in the presidency, I am very comfortable handing over responsibility for leading this wonderful organization because I feel Lynn Perry Wooten has an extraordinary combination of motivation and capacity for the role,” stated former president Helen Drinan in an email when Wooten’s appointment was announced back in February. Drinan cited Wooten’s background in business and academia, as well as her commitment to diversity and inclusion as reasons Drinan was excited about her replacement. Drinan served as president for 12 years.
Wooten has spent her entire career working in higher education. Most recently, she served as the Dean of the David J. Nolan Dean and Professor of Management and Organizations at Cornell University’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Wooten graduated valedictorian from North Carolina A&T State University, then received her MBA from Duke University, and earned Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.
In her welcome video, Wooten noted the turbulence of the current moment, citing the COVID-19 and racial unrest in the United States. “Women-centered leadership, career support, and a deep commitment to inclusion will be critical as we address the urgency of the current moment; that is the global pandemic and a reckoning of social justice,” she said. In an email statement accompanying the video sent to students, Wooten said that this is not how she pictured starting her presidency at Simmons, but that the university is adapting to new realities of COVID-19 and recommitting to social justice and inclusion.
“To our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, I am eager to work with you all to foster a supportive community where each of us will be empowered to do our best work, and where each of us will truly belong. We can drive change, lift one another up, and make a difference in a world that really needs it,” said Wooten in the Youtube video. She thanked those who have given her a warm welcome and noted her optimism and excitement to get started in her new role.