U of U Pres. Ruth Watkins to step down in April

Ruth V. Watkins, University of Utah president, announced she will leave the U in April of 2021. Photo: U of U

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 12, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — University of Utah President V. Ruth Watkins announced Tuesday she will step down to accept a position as president of an educational network.

Watkins wrote in a tweet issued Tuesday “it is with mixed emotions and a heart filled with gratitude for all of you that I let you know I will be leaving the U in April to serve as president of Strada Impact.”

Watkins, who served as U of U president since 2018, has accepted the position of Strata Impact Network, where she will drive national research, philanthropy, policy and thought leadership to improve students’ access to college, degree completion and career connections, a U of U statement says.

Watkins will step down from her position at the university in April 2021. The Utah Board of Higher Education will immediately begin a national search for a new president. Members of the University of Utah Presidential Search Committee will be appointed by the end of January 2021, the U’s statement says.

In a letter announcing the news to the U’s campus community, Watkins said she is eager to have an opportunity to share the U’s innovative, collaborative approaches to student success with other institutions around the country.

“I believe the work of Strada Impact is more important today than ever before because completing college and securing employment will be especially crucial for millions of young Americans post-pandemic,” Watkins wrote.

The Utah State Board of Regents selected Watkins as the 16th president of the university on Jan. 18, 2018; she officially began her tenure in April 2018 and was inaugurated in September 2018. She is the first woman to lead the U in its 168-year history. (Jerilyn S. McIntyre served as interim president of the U twice, for two months in 1991 and all of 1997).

She joined the University of Utah from the University of Illinois-Champaign, where she spent 20 years in leadership and faculty roles.

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