Prairie View A&M University on Thursday named interim President Ruth Simmons the sole finalist for permanent president of the historically black university.

Simmons, who was president of Brown University for more than a decade before retiring in 2012, was hired as interim Prairie View A&M president in July. In an interview with the Tribune then, she said she only took the job because the Texas A&M System had made clear it would be temporary. 

“I am old and I’m retired,” she said at the time.

Simmons, a Houston native, said she grew up going to Prairie View sporting events and that one of her siblings and a few of her nieces attended school there. Simmons got her undergraduate degree from another historically black school, Dillard University, and said this summer that she hopes to improve the representation of African-Americans in STEM fields through her work at Prairie View. When she was named Brown's president in 2001, she became the first African-American to lead an Ivy League school.

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“I knew Dr. Simmons was the right fit to lead Prairie View when we asked her to serve as Interim President,” A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said in a statement Thursday. “I am so excited by the prospect of President Simmons serving our campus for the long-term.”

Simmons will formally assume the role after the A&M System’s next Board of Regents meeting, which is in February, according to its website. She succeeds George Wright, who stepped down in June.

Disclosure: Prairie View A&M University and the Texas A&M University System have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

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