Jim Simmons retired as the Senior Director and Professor of Practice of Applied Computing Programs in August 2018, but continues to serve as an adjunct instructor for the program. He had served as the Senior Director since 2005. After completing his Ph.D., he taught Mathematics for Baylor and Loyola Universities before entering the workforce in the computing industry. Dr. Simmons enjoyed a twenty-year career with Litton Data Systems, Entergy, and Science and Engineering Associates before returning to the academic world.
Dr. Simmons earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana – Lafayette) in 1977, and his doctorate in Mathematics from Tulane in 1983. The results from his thesis were published in a paper in the Houston Journal of Mathematics in 1987. In 1994, he won the prestigious Mullin Award from the Computer Measurement Group for his paper, “Integrating UNIX Measurements Reporting into an Existing Automated Reporting System in a Windows Environment.” He served as a referee and on the editorial review board for CMG and as a referee for Mathematical Reviews. In addition to his adjunct duties with SoPA, Dr. Simmons also serves as an adjunct professor in the Mathematics Department at Loyola University. Dr. Simmons is also an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church.
What are your favorite activities when you are not working?
I enjoy playing guitar, listening to music, playing computer sport games, reading fantasy fiction, and collect Peanuts comics and memorabilia. I still enjoy studying mathematics as well as doing a lot of Church-related reading.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering finishing their degree, or starting for the first time as an adult?
My advice is to just keep plugging away. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Sometimes it may seem quite daunting coming back to school and the hope of reaching your goal of a degree so far away, but if you just keep working and don't lose heart, you WILL succeed.
What's the first career you dreamed of having as a child?
As a child I wanted to work in the space program. I built and flew model rockets and watched and read everything I could about space. I came close...my first non-academic job was in a building across the street from the NASA facility in Michoud.