Cornell Dyson Dean Picked As Simmons University President

After less than three years, Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management will be searching for another dean. It was announced today (February 6) that current Dyson Dean Lynn Perry Wooten will take over as the ninth president of Simmons University in Boston beginning July 1. Wooten succeeds current president Helen Drinan, who has served as president of the women’s undergraduate college the past 12 years.

“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,” Regina M. Pisa, chair of the Simmons Board of Trustees said in a release from the university. “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.”

After earning her MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 1990, Wooten began a stint at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which lasted almost three decades. After earning her Ph.D. from the Ross School, Wooten started working on the Ross faculty. Wooten held the position of Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Ross for six years from 2011 to 2017, when she took over as Dean at the Dyson School. Under Wooten’s leadership, both undergraduate programs at Michigan Ross and Cornell Dyson have thrived. Both schools were in the top-ten in this year’s Poets&Quants ranking of undergraduate business schools.


From the time Wooten was growing up in Philadelphia, education — and particularly business education — has been a way of life. Both of her parents and an aunt all graduated from business school, Wooten told us in an interview last August. Wooten will be the first African-American president of Simmons University and is the result of an intensive search process led by the search firm Isaacson, Miller and a 19-member search committee. According to the school, the search committee represented a “cross-section” of the Simmons community including “student, faculty, administration, alumnae/i, board members.” After interviewing semifinalists and finalists, the search committee unanimously recommended Wooten to the Board of Trustees, which also voted unanimously to make Wooten the next president.

“Dr. Wooten is an outstanding choice to lead Simmons University as president,” Dr. David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College also said in the university’s release. “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.”

Similar to Wooten, Thomas took over as president of Morehouse after a successful deanship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Another former Michigan Ross Dean also had high praise for Wooten.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dr. Wooten and experience firsthand her passion and commitment to higher education,” Dr. Alison Davis-Blake, president of Bentley University and former Michigan Ross dean said in the release. “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.”


Under Drinan’s leadership, Simmons became a university in 2018, retooled its undergraduate curriculum with a focus on leadership development, and developed co-ed online graduate programs.

“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,” Wooten said in the release. “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.”


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