A Running List of Administrators Leaving Simmons

Simmons undergoes nine leadership changes as the University tries to manage the effects of COVID-19


Main College Building at Simmons University

Abby Vervaeke, Managing Editor

Since the start of 2020, Simmons has announced at least nine leadership changes in the administration.

These departures, which will leave some positions vacant, come at a time when the University is managing the ramifications of a financial and public health crisis.

The departures as of Wednesday, August 19, include:

  • President Helen Drinan, replaced by Lynn Perry Wooten
  • Provost Katie Conboy, replaced by interim Provost Russell Pinizzotto
  • Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Amy White, vacant
  • Senior Vice President of Student Engagement and Enrollment Lynnette Cook Francis, vacant
  • Dean of Students Susan Antonelli, staying on until the end of 2020 to help fill position
  • Senior Vice President of Organizational Culture, Inclusion and Equity Dr. Debra Joy Pérez, vacant
  • Director of the Undergraduate Business Program Cynthia Ingols, replaced by Todd Herrmann
  • Interim Director of the School of Business Cathy Robbins, replaced by Ray Pfeiffer
  • Assistant Dean of SLIS Academic Support Dr. Em Claire Knowles, vacant

“Many of these senior leaders have served Simmons for an extended period of time. Change is a natural part of the higher education landscape, and it’s typical in many industries for individuals to utilize executive leadership transitions to explore new opportunities,” wrote President Lynn Perry Wooten in a statement to The Voice. “When Simmons leaders have the opportunity to advance in their careers, not only is it a testament to the skill and commitment of these professionals, it speaks to the quality of the Simmons experience.”

Simmons is currently conducting hiring searches for a new provost and dean of students, according to President Wooten. Current Dean of Students Susan Antonelli will stay on until the end of 2020 while the search continues for her replacement.

Wooten did not mention a hiring search to fill the senior vice president of organizational culture position, but said she established the Simmons Diversity Council, which will become a key feature of the Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion and Equity.

Simmons has received criticism for its hiring processes in the past, but President Wooten told The Voice she’s, “fortunate to work with a great team here at Simmons” and is “committed to adding new members to fill crucial positions.” Wooten says the University will provide the Simmons community with updates on the hiring process when there are updates to give.

In the spring, Simmons laid off and furloughed multiple staff members to manage financial losses from COVID-19. It’s unclear if any of the administration’s departures will help the University minimize financial losses.


This story was updated on August 19 to reflect that Todd Herrmann is replacing Cynthia Ingols and that Ray Pfeiffer is replacing Cathy Robbins. The story previously did not include Robbins’ departure.