One of the things that I do is schedule Seminars.
My docs invite other doctors (PhDs, MDs, DVMs, DMVs <- okay. I made that one up) to come talk to them and the rest of the researchers.
THEN I e-mail the guest speaker, and set up all his stuff – flights and lodging and alladat.
Seems not that bad, right?
For the most part these guests have been super nice and easy going and they made all of this relatively painless.

BUT THERE’S ALWAYS ONE.
THIS ONE couldn’t fly anything but first class because BLAH BLAH BLAH
THIS ONE needed a VERY. SPECIFIC. FLIGHT. because he wanted to be back at a very specific time.
THIS ONE has an EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, but his wife called me because she ALSO had requests about his travel.
(that I ignored, because ma’am… if you don’t get…)

ANYWAYS.
I finally get him all squared away, then his assistant calls me TO CHANGE HIS FLIGHT.
[which, OF COURSE was nonrefundable and a million dollars because first class]
After I stop screaming internally, I call the assistant back:

Me: So. He can have the same flight on a different day, with just a change fee. Otherwise, I’ll have to buy A WHOLE NEW MILLION DOLLAR FIRST CLASS TICKET. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ME TO THAT.
Her: Let me ask him. Because I don’t want to say yes, and then he changes his mind.
Me: I don’t want to have to fly all the way to Rhode Island to strangle your doctor.
Her, thinking that I’m kidding: Ohh, hahahahaha.
Me: …
Her: Okay then. I’ll find out and call back.

I am very, VERY professional. But I was also very serious.

And here I was thinking that if ONLY it were true that all black people knew each other*
Because then I coulda called Ruth Simmons, 18th president of Brown University, and the FIRST black President of an Ivy League institution, to get him together.
[oh, look! A president I can acknowledge! – says the girl who has no president]

Ahem.
Simmons was elected Brown’s first female president in November 2000, assuming that office in the fall of 2001. In 2002, Newsweek selected her as Woman of the Year, while in 2001, Time named her as America’s best college president.

Ruth Simmons was born in Grapeland, Texas, the last of 12 children of Fanny (née Campbell) and Isaac Stubblefield. Her father was a sharecropper, until the family moved to Houston during her school years. Her paternal grandfather descends partly from the Benza and Kota people, slaves from Gabon, while her maternal line is traced back to the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean who were enslaved by the Spaniards.

She earned her bachelor’s degree, on scholarship, from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1967. She went on to earn her master’s and doctorate in Romance literature from Harvard University in 1970 and 1973, respectively.

After that she was a VERY busy lady: Assistant professor of French at the University of New Orleans from 1973-1976 and Assistant Dean of the UNO College of Liberal Arts from 1975-76. She moved to California State University, Northridge in 1977 as administrative coordinator of its NEH Liberal Studies Project. From 1978-79, she was acting director of CSU-Northridge’s International Programs and visiting associate professor of Pan-African Studies. She moved to the University of Southern California in 1979 as assistant dean of graduate studies, and then as associate dean of graduate studies. THEN She moved to Princeton University in 1983 and served as assistant dean of faculty and then associate dean of faculty from 1986 to 1990. Simmons served as provost at Spelman College from 1990 to 1991 and returned to Princeton as its vice provost from 1992 to 1995. And in 1995, Simmons became the first African-American woman to head a major college or university when she was selected as president of Smith College, which she led until 2001. As president of Smith College, Simmons started the first engineering program in a U.S. woman’s college.

Simmons became president of Brown in October 2001, succeeding Gordon Gee. At Brown, she completed a $1.4 billion initiative – the largest in Brown’s history – known as Boldly Brown: The Campaign for Academic Enrichment in order to enhance Brown’s academic programs. And in 2013, she established the University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice to examine this complex history of slavery and the founding Brown family wealth, and make recommendations for how the university might approach the relevant issues.

On September 15, 2011, Simmons announced that she would step down from the Brown presidency at the end of the academic year, June 30, 2012. On June 19, 2017, she was named interim president of Prairie View A&M University, a Historically Black University and a member of the Texas A&M University System, assuming the office on July 1, 2017. On December 4, 2017, she was officially named the eighth president of Prairie View. She is the first woman to serve as president of the university.

*closes up Wikipedia tab*

I would say that it’s interesting it took until 1995 to see First Black Presidents (of major colleges and universities), but maybe it’s not so much interesting as it is ABOUT TIME that the descendants of the enslaved people who built these institutions/ and or created the wealth of the people who did, are now making history in these institutions. But yannow. I’m just providing facts, not commentary.

 

*We don’t all know each other, but I feel like the degrees of separation are in my favor:
This one time my auntie met Michelle Obama, who in, incidentally married to President Barack Obama.
Who appointed Dr. Simmons to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 2009.
So basically, I’m the man, sitting next to the man, who’s sitting NEXT to the goddamn man who knows Ruth Stubblefield Simmons.

 

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