April 30, 2024

Elliott Emeritus Professor of History and Wilson Center Teaching Fellow James Young Simms, Jr. passed away on April 25, 2024.

Adapted from Dr. Simms’ obituary:

Dr. Jim Simms headshotDr. Simms joined the Hampden-Sydney faculty in 1968, where he served as Elliott Professor of History and teaching fellow in the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest. In 2005, Dr. Simms became the director of the Military Leadership and National Security Studies program. During his tenure at H-SC, he taught a variety of classes, including Western Civilization, Western Man, and Histories of Europe and War. His area of expertise was Russian agriculture and peasant wellbeing in late Imperial Russia. He published several articles, op/eds, book reviews, papers, and co-authored Modernization and Revolution: Dilemmas in Progress in Late Imperial Russia. Throughout his tenure at H-SC, Dr. Simms was a dedicated faculty member. He served on committees including Budget, Publications, Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs, Athletics, Gender Issues, as well as dean of faculty and presidential search committees. Dr. Simms served as an advisor to the College Republicans and Union-Philanthropic Society. He performed in plays for the Fine Arts Department and taught dance classes on campus.

In 2009, Dr. Simms received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service. He received the four Fuqua Teaching Awards, the Crawley Award for Distinguished Service, and the Cabell Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was awarded several National Endowment of the Humanities grants and a Fellowship of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University grant. The senior class of 2009 presented Dr. Simms with their recognition award and the Board of Trustees presented him with their Prize for Teaching and Research at the 1990 commencement.

In addition to his service as faculty member, Dr. Simms was also the first varsity soccer coach and led the program from 1968 to 1980. In 2010, the soccer locker room at Hampden-Sydney was dedicated in Dr. Simms honor, and he is the only tenured faculty member at Hampden-Sydney to be inducted into the H-SC Sports Hall of Fame.

Following graduation from the University of Maryland in 1958, Dr. Simms served in the United States Marine Corps. Before arriving at Hampden-Sydney, he taught at Eastern Michigan University and George Mason University.

On Saturday, May 4, at 2:00 p.m., there will be an internment service at Hampden-Sydney with eulogy, prayers, and military honors. A larger memorial service will take place in the fall.