A memorial service for former Student Affairs Vice President and Neag Alumni Award winner H. Fred Simons (Ph.D. ‘72) celebrated the life, commitment and legacy of a man committed to advancing multicultural education and UConn’s racial and ethnic diversity.
Part of the UConn community since the early 1970s, Simons served as a program director, university administrator and finally Student Affairs vice president. When he retired in 1989, he was presented the highest honor the university bestows, “The University of Connecticut Medal of Honor.” The African American Cultural Center was also renamed the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center.
Held Sept. 5 at the Student Union Theater, Simons’ memorial service included comments by H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center Director Dr. Willena Kimpson Price and current Student Affairs Vice President Dr. Michael Gilbert, who spoke about Simons’ legacy and significant contributions.
Looked upon as a father figure and role model by UConn students, Simons was instrumental in establishing a six-week summer college preparatory program and first full university scholarship for minority students. His consensus-building leadership style helped UConn establish its emerging commitment to attract, retain and graduate minority students, as well as to meet its strategic goal to expand racial and ethnic diversity.
In 2008, Simons was honored for a lifetime of service to both the field of education and UConn at the Neag School’s Annual Awards Dinner.
Simons passed away in his sleep on April 10, 2013, at Rockville General Hospital in Rockville CT, shortly after watching the UConn women’s basketball team win the national championship. He was 87.
A native of North Carolina, Simons served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He received his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State College, where he later earned a master’s degree in education and public school administration. Prior to coming to UConn, he was a high school teacher, assistant high school principal and high school principal.
Simons is survived by his wife of 67 years, Alice, their three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Individuals interested in honoring Simons by supporting the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center can contact Heather McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-486-4530.