Simmons University Names Lynn Perry Wooten as Ninth President
Boston, MA (February 6, 2020) — Simmons University’s Board of Trustees today announced that Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten has been unanimously selected to serve as Simmons’ ninth president, effective July 1, 2020.
Dr. Wooten will succeed Helen G. Drinan, who ends her term in June after serving as Simmons’ president for the past 12 years. Simmons University offers the only undergraduate program for women in Boston and numerous nationally recognized graduate programs open to all.
“After a comprehensive, nationwide search that attracted significant interest from a diverse group of impressive candidates, we’re delighted to announce Dr. Wooten as the ninth president of Simmons University,” said Regina M. Pisa, Chair of the Simmons Board of Trustees. “Dr. Wooten’s clear strategic vision and creativity, seasoned leadership experience, strong academic record and collaborative style make her ideally suited to advance our university during this critical period. She brings with her not only a deep understanding of higher education, but as a business school Dean, a strong appreciation of how to manage and lead complex organizations through the inevitable changes that are facing all institutions of higher learning today. Dr. Wooten is uniquely suited to lead and advance the transformation that has begun at Simmons under President Drinan’s leadership. We’re thrilled to welcome her to Boston and to the Simmons community.”
Drinan led a transformational chapter of Simmons’ history. Under her leadership, Simmons reconfigured its undergraduate curriculum with a focus on leadership development, became a university in 2018, developed world-class coed online graduate degree programs, and cemented its status as a premier institution for women scholars.
Dr. Wooten is a scholar and academic, and throughout her career she has assumed a number of leadership positions. Most recently, she served as the David J. Nolan Dean and Professor of Management and Organizations at Cornell University’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
“With its robust graduate programs and commitment to educating the next generation of female leaders, Simmons University plays a significant role in today’s world,” said Dr. Wooten. “The university’s model – with its focus on liberal arts and professional development – is the future of higher education. I couldn’t be more excited to join this community and to further the institution’s distinctive and vital mission.”
Dr. Wooten’s expertise lies in crisis leadership, positive organizing routines, strategic human resource management, workforce diversity and competitive advantage, and development of emerging leaders. She has been a prolific author of journal articles and has published two books – Positive Organizing in a Global Society: Understanding and Engaging Differences for Capacity Building and Inclusion (2015), and Leading Under Pressure: From Surviving to Thriving Before, During, and After a Crisis (2010). Her scholarship also includes 15 edited, authored and coauthored book chapters, including the recently published chapter, “The Glass Cliff: African American CEOs as crisis leaders.” She has also authored or co-authored 28 scholarly articles, including a 2016 research briefing, "Creating an organization of leaders: A positively deviant approach," which appeared in the journal Progress in Pediatrics.
Dr. Wooten’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, and she has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, American Behavioral Scientist, Human Resource Management, and Organizational Dynamics.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dr. Wooten and experience firsthand her passion and commitment to higher education,” said Dr. Alison Davis-Blake, president of Bentley University. “She’s a strategic thinker and an excellent communicator. I also can’t think of anyone better to make diversity, equity and inclusion the centerpiece of a campus, and I look forward to collaborating with her here in Massachusetts.”
Dr. Wooten is Simmons University’s first African American president. Her appointment is the result of a comprehensive search process, driven by the nationally-respected search firm Isaacson, Miller and a 19-member search committee representing a cross-section of the Simmons community, with student, faculty, administration, alumnae/i, board members and the community participating. The process featured input from a wide swath of the Simmons community, including dozens of listening sessions and online survey participation. After interviewing a number of semifinalists and finalists, the search committee unanimously recommended Dr. Wooten to the Board of Trustees, which voted unanimously to select her as the institution’s ninth president.
“Dr. Wooten is an outstanding choice to lead Simmons University as president,” said Dr. David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College. “She is a transformative leader with a proven record of scholarly and administrative achievements. With her experience in higher education, and her commitment to excellence, Simmons will soar to new heights.”
Prior to her position at Cornell, Dr. Wooten served on the faculty at the University of Michigan for nearly two decades, where she was the University of Michigan’s Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Excellence and Clinical Professor of Strategy, Management & Organizations at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Dr. Wooten grew up in Philadelphia and is an alumna of the University of Michigan (PhD). She received her undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University, where she graduated as valedictorian, and her MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She is an active member in a number of national volunteer leadership organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Jack & Jill of America, Junior League, and The Links Inc. In addition, Wooten currently serves as an advisory board member for the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program and is a board member for the Center for Effective Philanthropy and University of Michigan Alumni Association.
She is married to David Wooten, a chaired marketing professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, and they have two children – Justin and Jada.