Speed Dial: Ruth J. Simmons

The cost to attend Brown next year will be upwards of $53,000. Is there price elasticity for top schools?
The public has demonstrated it's willing to pay very substantially for the quality of education that we offer. Nevertheless, I think we all recognize that this growth in tuition has to moderate.

Women lead 50 percent of Ivy League colleges but just 2 percent of the largest U.S. companies. Why?
Leaders in higher ed have more time to prove themselves. There is strong mentoring of women in the academy. Corporations appear more willing to resist affirmative action to advance women, and boards and shareholders are more tolerant of this approach.

What is the biggest contribution you made serving on the board of Goldman Sachs Group (GS) for 10 years?
My own perspective tended to differ somewhat from that of other directors. I looked a good deal more at the kind of sociology of the company, at governance especially.

Are the humanities still relevant majors in this economy?
Now those are fighting words. If I can give a very substantial injection of humanistic thinking into corporations, boy, that would change things a lot.

How so?
A broader focus away from narrow quarter-to-quarter, bottom-line thinking. I often say that shareholders should feel very responsible for how responsive corporations are to the public trust.

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