Simmons College was chartered in 1899 in accordance with the will of John Simmons. In 2017, in recognition of the comprehensive nature of its programs - bachelors, masters, and doctoral - Simmons applied to and received approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to become Simmons University. The overall governing body of the University is the Board of Trustees. The Board is entrusted with the management of the business, property, and affairs of the University, including setting overall policy for the University, appointing the president and officers of the University, approving the granting of degrees and other academic functions, and ensuring the responsible use of its assets for the long-term health of the institution.
Board of Trustees
Simmons Trustees are the ultimate fiduciaries of Simmons University. They oversee all of Simmons’s institutional affairs in accordance with the University's charter, bylaws, evolving statements of mission and purpose, and strategic plan. The Board of Trustees is responsible for governance of the University and for monitoring the implementation of its policies, as distinguished from its day-to-day management or administration, which is the responsibility of the President and other administrative officers of the University.

The President is appointed by the Board of Trustees and is the chief executive officer of the University, responsible for academic and financial administration in accordance with policies established by the Board. Senior vice presidents and vice presidents report to the president. The president acts as a liaison between the Board of Trustees and the faculty, works with members of the Board and the Simmons community to plan and budget for future needs, and fosters an open, collegial environment for faculty, staff, and students. In addition, the president works closely with alumnae/i, business, government, foundations, educational associations, and other external constituencies and ensures that Simmons University plays an active role in Boston-area community relations and higher education on a national level.

Lynn Perry Wooten, a seasoned academic and an expert on organizational development and transformation, became the ninth president of Simmons University on July 1, 2020. She is the first African American to lead the university.

Specializing in crisis leadership, diversity and inclusion, and positive leadership—organizational behavior that reveals and nurtures the highest level of human potential—Dr. Wooten is an innovative leader and prolific author and presenter whose research has informed her work in the classroom and as an administrator. She first joined a university faculty in 1994 and has served in administrative roles since 2008. Dr. Wooten came to Simmons from Cornell University, where she was the David J. Nolan Dean and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

With leadership at the core of her work, Dr. Wooten’s research has ranged from an NIH-funded investigation of how leadership can positively alleviate health disparities to leading in a crisis and managing workforce diversity. She is the author of two books, Positive Organizing in a Global Society: Understanding and Engaging Differences for Capacity Building and Inclusion (2016) and Leading Under Pressure: From Surviving to Thriving Before, During, and After a Crisis (2010). Sharing her work at nearly 60 symposia and conferences, she also is the author of nearly 30 journal articles and more than 15 book chapters, as well as managerial monographs and numerous teaching cases.

Dr. Wooten earned a BS in accounting in 1988 from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a Historically Black College, where she graduated as valedictorian; an MBA from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business in 1990; and a PhD in business administration from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in 1995. She received a Certificate in Advanced Educational Leadership from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2018.

Starting her career as assistant professor of management at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, Dr. Wooten returned in 1998 to the University of Michigan, where she served on the faculty of the Ross School of Business for nearly 20 years. There she taught undergraduate, graduate, and executive education courses and served as Co-Faculty Director of the Center for Positive Organizations as well as Co-Faculty Director of the Executive Leadership Institute. She became engaged in student life as an associate dean, ultimately serving as Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Excellence. She left Michigan in 2017 for the deanship at Cornell.

Russell Pinizzotto, Ph.D., began serving as Simmons’ Interim Provost in May 2020. He previously served as an Interim Provost for various institutions, most recently for Carlow University in Pittsburgh, where he established the College of Professional Studies for adult and nontraditional learners. He was also the Interim Provost at Merrimack College where he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. During his tenure as Wentworth’s Provost from 2010 until 2015, his accomplishments included boosting enrollment by 25%; increasing retention and graduation rates; developing nine new undergraduate and six new graduate programs; and increasing the revenue of the College of Professional and Continuing Education by over 50%. Dr. Pinizzotto received his BS in Physical Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology; his Engineer’s degree in Materials Science from UCLA; his MS in Astronomy from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia; and his PhD in Engineering in Materials Science from UCLA.

Interim Vice President of Human Resource
J. David Hollinden

Vice President of Student Affairs
Dr. Renique Kersh The primary focus of Dr. Kersh's role is the student experience. She oversees residential life, Orientation and first-year programs, community standards, student support, student leadership and activities, the Health Center, the Counseling Center, Spiritual Life, and athletics and recreation. Dr. Kersh came to Simmons from Northern Illinois University, where she served as associate vice provost for student engagement and success. She holds a PhD in Community Health from the University of Illinois; an MEd in Counseling and Personnel Services, with an emphasis in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, and a BA in communications from Oakland University.

Vice President of University Real Estate Development and Facilities Management
Laura Brink Pisinski is the Vice President of University Real Estate Development and Facilities Management. Ms Pisinski is overseeing the major renovation of the academic campus, including the transformation of Lefavour Hall into the University’s science facilities; planning for “One Simmons,” the creation of a modern living and learning campus for Simmons; and for ongoing facilities management. During nearly 13 years of service to Simmons, Pisinski has held positions of increasing responsibility and scope within the Advancement Department. She started as a front-line fundraiser for leadership annual gifts; she was promoted to Major Gifts Officer, to Director of Major Gifts and Campaigns, to Assistant Vice President and most recently to Associate Vice President. Before coming to Simmons, Pisinski worked in enrollment management, where she chaired the annual meeting for the New England Association of College Admission Counselors as well as a presidential task force on retention. She holds a B.A. from St. Lawrence University and a master’s degree in communications management from Simmons University.

General Counsel
Gretchen Groggel-Ralston is Vice President and General Counsel at Simmons.

Vice Provost
Dr. Stephanie Berzin came to Simmons in 2018 as Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Policy and Practice and served in that position until September 2021. The Vice Provost is primarily responsible for the execution of strategic priorities including: the CompleteDegree@Simmons program for adult learners, supported by 2U; the Simmons Experience Program, supported by Gallup; supervision of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and the Career Education Center; establishment of Carnegie Foundation Elective Classification in Leadership; and other priorities as determined by the Provost or other senior leadership and strategic planning. In addition, the Vice Provost collaborates and partners with the Provost and works directly with the Deans and other members of the Provost’s staff on, including but not limited to, curricular and personnel issues, on strategic academic plans and policies, and on the effective implementation of the Faculty Policy Manual. Prior to her arrival at Simmons, served as Assistant Dean for the Doctoral Program at the Boston College School of Social Work. Her most recent book was published by Oxford University Press, Innovation From Within: Redefining How Nonprofits Solve Problems (2018). Dr. Berzin graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, earned her MSW from Columbia University, and a PhD from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.

Interim Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice
Dr. Valerie Leiter has taught on medical sociology, research methods, food, drugs, and epidemiology and conducts research on children and youth with disabilities, medicalization, medical devices, and gender and health. Her first book, Their Time Has Come: Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood (2012) was a result of her William T. Grant Foundation Scholars project on the "Transition to Adulthood Among Youth with Disabilities." The Sociology of Health & Illness: Critical Perspectives (10th edition), co-edited with Peter Conrad was published in 2018. Dr. Leiter received her PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Brandeis University; A.M. in Sociology from Harvard University, and her B.A. in Sociology from the, State University of New York at Albany.

Interim Dean of the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences
Dr. Sanda Erdelez is a Professor and Interim Dean of the College of Organizational, Computational and Information Sciences. She received her LL.B. and LL.M degrees from the University of Osijek Law School (Croatia) and Ph.D. in information transfer from Syracuse University. She was also a faculty member at the University of Missouri, University of Texas at Austin and University of Osijek. Dr. Erdelez is a former Fulbright Scholar and recipient of The Texas Excellence Teaching Award and The ALISE Pratt-Severn Faculty Innovation Award. Her research interests include human information behavior, human-computer interaction and usability evaluation in online environments. She has been internationally recognized for her pioneering research in the areas of information encountering and opportunistic discovery of information. Her research has received funding from both corporate and government sources including Dell Inc., SBC Communication, Texas State Government, and NSF. She is an active member of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T), where she has served in numerous leadership roles including the chair of Special Interest Group on Information Seeking and Use (SIG USE) and member of the ASIS&T Board of Directors. In 2015, Dr. Erdelez received the Outstanding Contribution to Information Behavior Research Award from SIG USE and also became a member of the SIG USE Academy of Fellows.

Interim Dean of the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities
Dr. Diane Grossman is Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, and has been
at Simmons since 1985. She has an A.B. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. from New York,
where she was an Ida Parker Bowne Scholar. An innovative scholar, a dynamic teacher, and an
accomplished, collaborative leader, Dean Grossman has served Simmons in a variety of
academic and administrative roles, including Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
(CAS), Dean of CAS, Chair of Philosophy, Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies, Director of
Academic Advising, and, currently, Director of the Honors Program. She also holds the Mockler
Chair in Principled Leadership. Dean Grossman’s scholarly work includes two books, two
edited collections, and numerous articles in continental philosophy, feminist theory, and applied

Dean of the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences
Dr. Lepaine Sharp-McHenry joined Simmons in August 2019, leading the largest of Simmons’ four Colleges, promoting and strengthening innovative teaching and engaged learning, continuing to build a culture of research and scholarly productivity and to enhance programs within and across disciplines both inside CNBHS and across the University. From 2013, Dr. Sharp-McHenry served as Dean of the College of Nursing at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK. Prior to that, she was at the University of Arkansas for 15 years, first as a faculty member and later as the Assistant Director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. Nationally, she has served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and as a site visitor on accreditation teams for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). She has also received official recognitions of her expertise at a state level, including several appointments by the Governor of the State of Arkansas. Dr. Sharp-McHenry holds an Associate of Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master’s of Science in Nursing (clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric mental health), and a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership.

Interim Dean of the Undergraduate Program
Dr. Kelly Hager, as Interim Dean of the Undergraduate Program, is responsible for the Simmons General Education Program: PLAN — Purpose, Leadership, ActioN. She previously served as the chair of the English and of the Women's & Gender Studies departments and as the director of the graduate program in Gender/Cultural Studies. Her research and teaching interests focus on Victorian literature, children's literature, reading practices, and gender history. She is the author of of Dickens and the Rise of Divorce: The Failed-Marriage Plot and the Novel Tradition (2010, pb 2017). She co-authored the Instructor's Guide for the Norton Introduction to Literature and co-edited a special issue of Victorian Review on "Extending Families." Her current research examines the gendered history of reading, in theory and in practice.