HCC Foundation gala honors trailblazing education leader Dr. Ruth J. Simmons

May 2, 2024

2024 Crystal Eagle Honoree Dr. Ruth J. Simmons (center) with (L-R) 2024 HCC Foundation Gala co-Chair Al Payton, HCC Chancellor Dr. Margaret Ford Fisher, HCCF Gala co-Chair Dr. Kim Shelton-Brown and HCCF Gala Auction Chair Vanessa Carter.

The Houston Community College (HCC) Foundation’s annual gala on April 20, 2024 honored Dr. Ruth J. Simmons for her outstanding contributions to higher education and her commitment to students.

The gala’s theme, “Where Dreams Take Flight,” brought together community leaders, philanthropists, educators and distinguished guests to celebrate the transformative power of education. The event served as a platform to raise vital funds that will target the areas of greatest need for HCC students as they navigate the difficult financial decisions related to work, family and education.

Dr. Simmons was the recipient of this year's prestigious Crystal Eagle Honoree Award. Simmons served as president of Prairie View A&M University, Smith College and president of Brown University, where she was the first African-American president of an Ivy League institution. While there, Simmons was named “Best College President” by Time magazine. Dr. Simmons recently published Up Home: One Girl’s Journey about her life and career. She has served as a beacon of hope and inspiration for students from all backgrounds, empowering them to pursue their dreams and achieve academic excellence.

After an onstage discussion between Chancellor Margaret Ford Fisher, Ed.D., and Dr. Simmons, the HCC Foundation Board surprised the honoree with a $25,000 endowed scholarship in her name: the Dr. Ruth J. Simmons Endowed Scholarship Fund.

The event raised more than $650,000 which will directly benefit areas of greatest need and of student success.

"We are immensely grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of this remarkable event," said Karen L. Schmidt, president of Houston Community College Foundation. "The funds raised will have a transformative impact on the lives of our students, allowing them to pursue higher education and achieve their goals. We are also honored to have celebrated and recognized the remarkable contributions of Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, whose legacy will continue to inspire generations to come."

The event was held at the Hilton Americas-Houston.

To view the conversation between the HCC Chancellor and Dr. Simmons, click here.

For more information about Houston Community College Foundation and its initiatives, please visit

 HCC Chancellor Dr. Margaret Ford Fisher, left, interviews 2024 Gala Crystal Eagle Honoree Dr. Ruth J. Simmons. Dr. Simmons is a New York Times best-selling author and a President's Distinguished Fellow at Rice University.

« Previous Article | Next Article »