Ruth V. Watkins will bring her extensive experience as an educator and administrator to the University of Utah as the new senior vice president for academic affairs. Currently the dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois and professor of speech and hearing science, psychology and linguistics, Watkins was selected after a national search. David Pershing held the position for 14 years before becoming president in 2012.
“Ruth is a superb administrator with a strong academic background including major external research funding and a focus on the undergraduate experience,” said President Pershing. “I am confident her collaborative leadership style and commitment to providing exceptional educational opportunities will enable her to enjoy continued success here in Utah.”
As the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois, Watkins provides leadership to 600 faculty members and ensures quality educational experiences for nearly 12,000 undergraduates and 2,500 graduate students. She oversees a budget of approximately $142 million per year and promotes the college’s fundraising and advancement efforts. During her time, the college exceeded its fundraising goal of $250 million.
Watkins has had a long and successful career at the University of Illinois since she joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1993. She served as associate dean for academic and research affairs in the College of Applied Health Sciences from 2000-2003 and in the Office of the Provost as associate provost from 2003-2006 and vice provost 2006-2008.
“I’m honored to be joining a Pac-12 university that is growing in stature nationally and internationally,” said Watkins. “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students of the University of Utah to implement President Pershing’s vision for delivering a high-quality academic experience that prepares students for meaningful roles in the global community.”
Watkins graduated with highest honors from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor of arts in speech-language pathology, then earned a master of arts in child language at the University of Kansas and continued there to earn a doctorate in child language. She also holds a certificate of clinical competence in speech-language pathology.