James M. Simmons Biography

James Simmons Photo 

Dr. James M. Simmons

Veteran educator James “Jimmy” Simmons took office Sept. 1, 1999, as Lamar University’s 10th president, bringing a wealth of perspective on Southeast Texas and Lamar to the position.

A 40-year veteran of the faculty and leadership team at Lamar, Simmons had served as dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication since 1992. In 1996, he began serving concurrently as interim executive director of University Advancement.

Simmons’ career with Lamar began in 1970 when he joined the faculty as an instructor and director of the marching band. He rose through the ranks, later serving as director of bands and as chair of the Department of Music and Theatre before his appointment as dean.

He previously taught and served as orchestra and band director in the Beaumont school district and as assistant director of bands and woodwind instructor at Memphis State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in music. Simmons earned his master’s degree from the University of Houston and doctorate from McNeese State University.

Simmons and his wife, Susan, have a daughter, twin sons and six grandchildren.

Throughout his educational career, Simmons has attracted acclaim as a performer on clarinet, saxophone and piano and continues to maintain a performance schedule.

Jimmy Simmons is known as an administrator with a strong sense of direction and the keen ability to attract and cultivate talented faculty — who, he stresses, are professionals who teach rather than professional teachers. His innovative approaches to the pursuit of academic excellence and his winning rapport with students, faculty and staff are other defining qualities.