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Simmons College President to Step Down to Promote Public Health

BOSTON (April 24, 2008) — The Simmons College Board of Trustees announced today that President Susan C. Scrimshaw will leave Simmons at the end of the academic year to engage in work that promotes public health on the international level and to undertake a specific consulting assignment.  Helen Drinan, senior vice president of Caritas Christi Health Care System and a member of the Simmons Board of Trustees since 2003 and Board Chair since 2007, will replace President Scrimshaw and serve a two-to-three-year term as the College's interim president. 

Simmons Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Steve Jonas said Scrimshaw "has worked tirelessly to pursue the chief goals she and the Board set for Simmons—emphasizing support for academic excellence, faculty research, student scholarship, and a more diverse and inclusive community. We're grateful for her leadership."

"At the same time," he said, "she is an extremely talented, respected, and passionate voice for the disenfranchised around the globe. We are pleased to grant her a transitional sabbatical that will allow her to make important contributions in public health on the national and international levels."

Scrimshaw became Simmons president in July 2006 following a successful 11-year tenure as dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jonas said Drinan's willingness to serve a multi-year interim presidency would assure stability and strong leadership as the college fills key staff positions and continues its forward momentum towards nationally recognized academic excellence.  Jonas said the Board will elect a new chair at its May board meeting.

"Helen Drinan is a seasoned and respected leader," Jonas said. "She is well known in the Boston area for her long tenure as the top woman executive at BankBoston Corporation, and more recently for the strength of character she has shown in her service to the Caritas Christi Health Care System.  She is also someone who has demonstrated a deep commitment to Simmons for decades.  Helen is a listener and a decision-maker who will keep our school on its current path to national prominence."

Drinan has been closely associated with Simmons for more than 30 years.  She holds two Simmons degrees:  a masters from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and an MBA from the School of Management; she is a recipient of the Phyllis Rappaport Alumnae Achievement Award granted by the School of Management.

Drinan is a well-known and respected leader in health care, civic and business circles.  In addition to her 19-year career at BankBoston Corporation and her four-and-a-half year term as senior vice president of Caritas Christi Health Care System, Drinan has served on the board of directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts since 1995, and was president of the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional organization with the largest human resources membership in the world.

Drinan said the Simmons College board was grateful for Scrimshaw's work for Simmons—most notably her emphasis on academic excellence and faculty development, promoting a culture of inclusiveness, and her support for academic research, all of which Drinan pledged to continue.

Scrimshaw said that in her time at Simmons, "I have come to value, respect and truly enjoy the faculty, staff, students and alumni, and I thank them for everything they have done to help achieve success during my tenure.  Working together with  a remarkable group of deans, vice presidents, and board members, we  have increased enrollment, balanced the budget, grown foundation  support, funded research and gifts to the College, and strengthened our academic programs through  greater faculty involvement."

"Although our work here is far from done," she said, " I have been offered an opportunity to take my first true sabbatical in a career that spans four decades. This will allow me to take advantage of some  important professional opportunities in terms of both my policy work  and consulting. I will miss the wonderful community at Simmons College, but the institution's many strengths leave it well positioned for the future."

Simmons College is a pioneering, nationally ranked university in Boston with nearly 2,100 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. Founded in 1899 as the first women's college in the nation to combine liberal arts with career preparation, today Simmons has an undergraduate college for women and graduate programs for women and men in social work, management, health studies, library and information science, and liberal arts.

Simmons has been named a "Best College" in its category by US News & World Report, one of "365 Best Colleges" by Princeton Review, and one of "25 cutting-edge schools with an eye toward the future" by Kaplan college guidebook.  For two years in a row, it has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, for its leadership in civic engagement and outstanding volunteer service to the community.