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WILLIAM J. HOLMES


1927 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
WILLIAM J. HOLMES Obituary
HOLMES, William J. Age 86, of Duxbury, was the fourth President of Simmons College. He served as president beginning in 1970 and retired in 1993. Holmes passed away February 7, 2014. 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 Building and the Holmes Sport Center, a $10 million sports and fitness center. The College also added two additional graduate schools: the Graduate School of Management, the first and only business school in the country designed for women; the Graduate School of Health Studies, now called the School of Nursing and Health Sciences; and many new graduate programs, including the first Center for the Study of Childrens Literature in the country. Additionally during his tenure, USNews & World Report included Simmons among the best colleges in the country, (and the Boston area with only Harvard M.I.T. and Wellesley) Simmons was also listed as only one of two womens major comprehensive colleges in the country. 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 Womens 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 paper and magazine articles, Holmes produced more than 70 educational television programs. He is the co-author of Nineteenth Century American Short Fiction 1800-1900. Holmes was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 30 1927, to William James and Libbie Holmes. He served in the United States Army Air Force 1945-1949 and attained the rank of Captain. In 1951, Holmes received the B.A. from the State University of Iowa. He married Joanne Prokop in September that same year. President Holmes received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the State University of Iowa, where he also taught for seven years. He came to Simmons from Ohio University, where in addition to teaching, he directed the Freshman English and English undergraduate programs the University Honors program, and the Ohio Fellows Program. President Holmes was the beloved husband of the late Joanne (Prokop) Holmes; devoted father of Mary, Ann and Sara; loving grandfather of Megan, Frank and Miranda and great-grandfather of Jake, Brad and Kennedy. Funeral and interment services will be private. The College is planning a memorial service to honor President Holmes. Gifts in President Holmess memory should be directed to The Joanne and William Holmes Scholarship Fund at Simmons College. For online condolences, please visit www.shepherdfuneralhome.com Shepherd Funeral Home Kingston 781 585-4453
Published in The Boston Globe on Feb. 16, 2014
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