Ruth Watkins

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Ruth V. Watkins
Ruth Watkins official photo (cropped).jpg
16th President of the
University of Utah
Assumed office
April 2, 2018[1][2]
Preceded byDavid W. Pershing
Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of the
University of Utah
In office
August 1, 2013 – April 2, 2018
Preceded byDavid W. Pershing
Succeeded byDaniel A. Reed
Personal details
Alma materUniversity of Northern Iowa (B.S.)
University of Kansas (M.S.)
University of Kansas (Ph.D.)
ProfessionUniversity Administrator
Academic background
ThesisVerb particle and preposition acquisition in language-impaired and normally developing children (1989)
Doctoral advisorMabel Rice
Academic work
Sub-disciplinespeech pathology

Ruth V. Watkins is an American scholar of child language and speech pathology. She is the 16th and current president of the University of Utah (U of U).[1][2]


Watkins completed a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology, graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with highest honors in 1985.[3][4] She completed her graduate work at the University of Kansas, earning a master's degree in child language/speech-language pathology in 1987,[5] and a PhD in child language in 1989.[4] Additionally, she has a certificate of clinical competence in speech-language pathology.[3] In 2003, she was named a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.[4][6]


In 1989, Watkins was appointed as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, as well as program director of the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, where she worked until 1993.[4] Later that year, she moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an assistant professor,[3] and was appointed associate dean for academic and research affairs in the College of Applied Life Studies in 2000, then associate provost responsible for undergraduate education and academic affairs in 2003.[4] She served in this capacity until she was promoted to vice provost, a post she held from 2006 to 2008.[3] In 2008, she was named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,[4] which included approximately 600 faculty, 2,500 graduate students, and 12,000 undergraduate students, with an annual operating budget of about $142 million.[3]

On April 4, 2013, it was announced that Watkins would assume the post of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the U of U. She officially began in this capacity on August 1, 2013, also receiving an appointment as a full professor in the Department of Linguistics.[3] Her work in this position has included advocacy for better online education[7] and an emphasis on cross-disciplinary science,[8] including support for interdisciplinary cluster hires via her creation of the Transformative Excellence Program.[9][10]

On January 18, 2018, Watkins was appointed as the 16th president of the U of U. She officially assumed this position on April 2, 2018, and is the first woman to serve in the post.[1][2] Attendees at her September 21, 2018 inauguration included the chair of the U of U's board of trustees, H. David Burton, and Utah Lieutenant Governor, Spencer Cox.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Ruth V. Watkins Named New U President". University of Utah. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Pershing, David. "Pershing Passes the Torch". Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "University of Utah Names Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs - University of Utah News".
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ciciora, Phil. "Vice provost named dean of U. of I. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences".
  5. ^ Watkins, Ruth Virginia (1989). Language acquisition in a hearing child of deaf parents: a study of language errors (M.S.). University of Kansas. OCLC 38542306.
  6. ^ Watkins, Ruth Virginia (1989). Verb particle and preposition acquisition in language-impaired and normally developing children (Ph.D.). University of Kansas. OCLC 612912939 – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ Watkins, Ruth (May 7, 2015). "Online learning is here to stay". The Deseret News.
  8. ^ Watkins, Ruth. "Op-ed: Future of scientific research lies in cross-disciplinary teams". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  9. ^ "Big Problems, Bold Solutions: The Transformative Excellence Program - Academic Affairs".
  10. ^ "Transformative Excellence Program - Academic Affairs".
  11. ^ Tanner, Courtney. "'We have a duty to transform education for the 21st century': University of Utah inaugurates Ruth Watkins, its first female president". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved September 25, 2018.