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Simmons Mourns Loss of Former President Holmes

A Letter from President Drinan

President William HolmesDear Simmons Community,

I write to share the sad news that William J. Holmes, the fourth President of Simmons College, passed away this morning, Friday, February 7. Holmes became president in 1970 and retired from the College in 1993.  

During his tenure, President Holmes led several major initiatives that had a tremendous impact on the College. He oversaw two major fundraising campaigns: PRIDE I (for renovations to the Main College Building) and PRIDE II (to increase salaries, the endowment, and to provide funding for endowed chairs). He also led the construction of both the Park Science Center and the Holmes Sport Center. During his presidency, the College added two additional graduate schools (the Graduate School of Management and the Graduate School of Health Studies, now called the School of Nursing and Health Sciences) and many new graduate programs.

President Holmes served on and chaired the executive committee of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts. He was associated with the American Council on Education, the Women’s College Coalition, the American Association of Colleges, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

He served as a member of the selection committee of the Massachusetts Rhodes Scholars, the Executive Committee of the WGBH Educational Foundation, and as a trustee for the Lowell Cooperative Broadcasting Council and the Beaver Country Day School. President Holmes received an Honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Northeastern University.

In addition to numerous articles, Holmes is the co-author of Nineteenth Century American Short Fiction 1800-1900.

Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, President Holmes received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the State University of Iowa, where he also taught for seven years.

President Holmes was married to the late Joanne Prokop. The couple had three daughters, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing details on plans for a memorial service to honor President Holmes and his many contributions to Simmons.

President Helen G. Drinan '75LS, '78SM

Helen G. Drinan '75LS, '78SM
President, Simmons College

Alumnae/i and friends who wish to make a gift to Simmons in memory of President Holmes may do so by designating it for The Simmons Fund or for the Joanne and William Holmes Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1993 with gifts from family and friends in honor and in recognition of President Holmes upon his retirement.



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