Dr. Ruth V. Watkins, former senior vice president for Academic Affairs, takes office as the 16th president of the University of Utah today, April 2, 2018. As she prepares to lead the institution into the future, President Watkins has a message for the campus community. Watch her message or read the transcript below.
The inauguration for President Watkins will be held Friday, Sept. 21, 3 p.m. in Kingsbury Hall.
What we want to do is inspire our students, to raise their view of the world and what is possible for them.
It’s exciting to have the privilege of leadership in such a fine institution, in such an institution that is on the way up in every critical measure. It’s also a little daunting, and I think it’s important to keep all of that in balance. I am mindful of the incredible privilege it is to lead.
I think I am a leader that tries very, very hard to look at the best interest of the institution and to help facilitate the goals and aspirations of our students, of our faculty and of our staff — all of them vital for a healthy institution looking forward.
As a university, we have never been stronger. We are well-positioned to think about what our next steps are and where we want to go.
We are, of course, the University of Utah. We have a critical role as a national flagship university. We also have a vital role as the university for Utah. We’re a significant economic engine in our state, a major employer. We also engage communities in our area on some of the issues that are most vital to them.
The way we’re approaching this at the U is to think about the way we can create opportunities for students that link what they learn in the classroom with experiences that will make that learning come alive.
I think I would want our faculty and staff to know how important their day-to-day work is in the lives of our students. We’re at our best as a university when we remember that those day-to-day interactions are changing lives.
To our students, I would say, be a part of it. When you look at students who view their experience in higher education very positively, there’s a consistent theme, and that consistent theme is they took advantage of what the university offered in a way that was interesting to them and they could be passionate about. That will be different for different students, but the theme of engaging, connecting, belonging — I want our students to be part of that.