Person 2 Person: Ruth Watkins

Ruth Watkins headshot Jan 2018.jpg
Person 2 Person: Ruth Watkins (Photo courtesy the University of Utah)

(KUTV) Dr. Ruth Watkins is the new president of the University of Utah.

She will be inaugurated on September 21st, and the event is free and open to the public. It will be at 3pm at Kingsbury Hall on the U campus.

Since taking the helm, Watkins has been on a listening tour around the state and around campus.

"I know that I get great ideas from many people, and I have the opportunity to talk with so many people and learn about their lives and their needs," Watkins said. "And it's a big part of a president's job to set the conditions in place where people can excel."

Being a university president wasn't on Watkins' life plan.

"I would have to say I've been a very lucky person along the way. But I was one of those people who went to college without being sure of what I wanted to do," she said.

She left college for about a year.

When she returned to school, she met someone who mentored her and encouraged her along her path.

"I have thought about that a lot as it shaped my own career, the difference that a mentor makes," she said.

Watkins was chosen to be president after a controversial time at the university.

But Watkins believes the school is moving forward.

"I think the important thing is to be part of setting the future and harnessing that energy towards a positive future," she said.

Watkins is also the first woman to serve as president of the University of Utah.

"I'm certainly the beneficiary of many decades of strong leadership," she said.

She also believes the university, and society, are at its best when all talented people have an opportunity to participate.

"The opportunity that I have to model that, and to help others, and to open the doors for those with me and behind me, I am pretty mindful of how very special that is," Watkins said.

Watkins and her husband, Bob now considers Utah their home after living in Illinois for 20 years.

"The opportunities that have been made possible for us here in Utah and at the University of Utah are unequaled," she said.

As for her vision for the University of the Utah, Watkins hopes it will be a preeminent flagship research university "that is playing a big role on the national and international stage, but has not lost sight of our local community."

She also hopes the U will provide "an exceptional experience to all who enter."

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