Meet the Vice President of Communications, Diversity & Inclusion

November 22, 2016

Cheryl Howard

We caught up with Cheryl Howard '71 about Diversity & Inclusion — and her favorite Simmons tradition!

What did you study at Simmons? 

Business administration. 

What's your role at Simmons? 

Vice President for Communications, Diversity & Inclusion reporting directly to President Drinan.

What made you choose Simmons for college?

I wanted to be a Buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue and Simmons had the highly regarded Prince School of Retailing, one of the best in the country for preparing women to go into retailing. I applied Early Decision – there was no other college of interest to me.

Has Simmons changed since you graduated? 

Yes and no. We have so many new buildings, a consolidated academic campus with five schools, new state of the art athletic facilities and far more students, faculty and staff of color than when I was a student. The mission of developing women for significant careers and leadership success and the personal relationships that faculty develop with students are hallmarks of Simmons and they have not changed over all of these years.

What made you make the move to return to Simmons for work? 

After twenty four years in corporate marketing and new product development roles, I sought a change in career. I began attending more Simmons alumnae events and volunteering to help. At that very time, I was fortunate to be asked to interview for the Vice President of Marketing position, a new role trustees on the Marketing Committee of the Board felt the College needed.

Tell us about Diversity & Inclusion at Simmons. 

We want the entire Simmons community to have opportunities for learning, growth, success, and meaningful participation in a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive culture. We are committed to inclusive excellence in all aspects of an individual’s community experience. All of us must strive to create an environment that is free from bias, prejudice, discrimination and hurtful/hateful acts that can prevent any member from thriving here.

Why was your new role created? 

As we listened to student concerns and developed institution-wide responses, it became clear that we would benefit from additional focus from an Operating Team member with primary responsibility for our Diversity & Inclusion efforts.

You recently spoke at the 50th anniversary of The Black Student Organization. What did your speech focus on? 

My speech focused on racial issues I experienced as a young person growing up in Washington D.C., the civil rights context that existed when the Ten Demands were presented in 1969 to the administration when I was a student at Simmons, and I saluted our current students who presented their Ten Demands in 2015.

What's your favorite Simmons tradition? 

Move-in day! There is such excitement and joy for students and their families as each new year begins.

What's your favorite movie?

Gladiator with Russell Crowe.

Fill in the blank: people would be surprised that I                 

am a descendant of Sally Hemings, the slave who lived at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home in Virginia.