Ruth Watkins named 16th president of University of Utah

Ruth V Watkins. Image courtesy Utah.edu

SALT LAKE CITY — Ruth V. Watkins will become the first woman to lead the University of Utah after she was selected by the Board of Regents as the 16th president of the school.

According to a press release from the U of U, Watkins will assume the position sometime this spring, though an exact date has not yet been selected.

Watkins will succeed David W. Pershing, who has served since 2012 and will step down to rejoin the U of U as a faculty member.

“Dr. Watkins brings both an outside perspective based on years of leadership experience at the University of Illinois as well as significant familiarity with the University of Utah where she has served as senior vice president and provost since 2013,” said Daniel W. Campbell, chair of the Board of Regents. “She is a collaborative leader who is committed to ensuring exceptional educational and research opportunities for students and faculty. She also is widely respected by our community partners. Dr. Watkins’ vision and dedication will ensure the U excels in the years ahead.”

Watkins is currently the senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the U of U, a position she has held since August of 2013.

The U of U states Watkins is the first woman to lead the school in its 168-year history, though they note that Jerilyn S. McIntyre served as interim president of the U twice for two months in both 1991 and 1997.