2024 Clark Kerr Lecture

Clark Kerr Lecture 2024: Access and Equity in Higher Education: What Now?

2024 Clark Kerr Lecture | Dr. Ruth Simmons

Access and Equity in Higher Education--What Now?

Ruth Simmons         April 18, 2024 | Banatao Auditorium and Online |

Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, a distinguished academic leader, professor and author, will be at UC Berkeley to deliver the 2024 Clark Kerr Lecture. Her lecture, “Access and Equity in Higher Education—What Now?,” will take place on Thursday, April 18 at 3 pm in the Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall. It will also be livestreamed. 

President Simmons will address the effect of the Supreme Court affirmative action decision, the surge in opposition to diversity efforts and the banning of race specific content in curricula in higher education. Reflecting on similarities to the pre civil rights era, she will review the possible effects of these actions and explore measures higher education might undertake to avoid losing momentum in the struggle for broad access.

This is a hyrbid event. Please indicate if you will attend in person or online on the registration form. For in-person attendees, there will also be a light reception after the lecture.


Dr. Simmons holds a PhD in Romance languages and literatures from Harvard University and is currently the President’s Distinguished Fellow at Rice University. She served as president of Prairie View A&M University, a HBCU, from 2017 until 2023. Under her leadership, Prairie View was reclassified as a R-2 Research University. From 2001 to 2012, she served as the 18th president of Brown University, where she was the first African American president of an Ivy League institution. Dr. Simmons made Brown University a need-blind institution, and established a committee on slavery and justice to investigate Brown’s historical involvement with the transatlantic slave trade. Before Brown University, she headed Smith College, beginning in 1995. At Smith, she launched the nation’s first engineering program at a women’s college. In addition, Dr. Simmons held leadership positions and various advisory roles at other universities. As a transformational leader, Dr. Simmons has received many awards and more than thirty honorary degrees.