University Administration

Ruth Watkins resigns today to take a position with an education technology firm

I’d like to see Michael Young return.

Ruth Watkins Resignation

Wow. She’s been faced with some tough issues as president, and all accounts I heard for those who worked with and for her, she was very well liked.

I don’t think Michael Young would survive one donor dinner in Utah anymore.

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It’s a non-profit educational organization – even more kudos to her.

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Knowing her a little bit on a personal basis, I found her to be a caring, genuinely nice person. We talked to her for 20 minutes or so at the Alamo Bowl last year. I’m going to miss seeing her periodically.

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She was really friendly, remembered people’s names, and has those soft skills that are rare in an academic administrator.

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I have a close friend who works closely with President Watkins and had no idea this was coming. My firend has worked with a number of presidents of the U, loves President Watkins, thinks she has been a terrific presidnet, and that it is a big loss for the U.

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It may be a big loss, but this is the nature of university presidents. I read that the average tenure for that position in the US is 6 years. Then they typically take a presidency somewhere else.

Burnout among u presidents is high partly because the job requires never ending fund raising. That is the principal job of the president. Everybody else runs the university.

She also got put through the ringer because of the U’s response to Lauren McCluskey and the failures of the U Police Department. Every time I’d read about her getting dressed down for it I’d think, “I bet she had no idea she was signing up for that…”

Yeah, I worked in President Machen’s office when I was at the U, and I realized that it was all about fund raising. It was fun for me - I got to meet a bunch of bigshots.

Fundraising is not a skill that just anyone can do, but it is common enough that universities are usually able to transition easily from one president to the next.

Well, from my perspective either she failed, or she let those around her fail.

The U’s police department is still in turmoil. The chief hired under her watch is now on administrative leave, with both the AG’s office and Peace Officer Standards & Training investigating him.

Some of her statements during the McCluskey strategy certainly were not good.

From a PR perspective, her 3 years have been rough.

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Agreed. No matter how good Watkins was, that debacle will always be the albatross around the neck of her administration.

That’s very true, and it really overshadows her accomplishments with respect to graduation rates, getting lower income students into the U, and getting the U recognized as a top tier school.

I remember a conversation I had with her and her husband probably some time in 2019. I told her that one of the main reasons my wife and I continue to support the U’s athletics programs is because of the high graduation rates. IIRC this was soon after we had 22 of 26 seniors on the football team get their degrees. She replied that she was really happy to hear that, because that isn’t always what peoples’ priorities seem to be. I just said, “Well, we mean it. Something to do with it being an institution of higher learning first.” I could tell that was her passion.

I hope I get to see her again before she moves. It’s unlikely, but I’d like to tell her thanks and that I hope our paths cross again.

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She did a lot of good for the U.

The handling of McCluskey will overshadow alot of the good she did for the U.

Too bad. I thought she was projecting in the right direction.

Also could someone explain why the U does not just merge the police with Salt Lake City and be done with it. Seems like the U could contract with them for enough officers for the campus.

Most universities do not want local police roaming their campuses, arresting students or drunk fans at football games, because they can be too heavy handed. And most local departments don’t want the burden of policing college campuses; its a drain on resources. Both want to preserve town gown relations.

I assume that is the rationale here, but don’t know.

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I honestly don’t know that that’s an issue.

The U has to hire out game days for instance as they have nowhere near the staffing to handle a large event.

If another agency took over they’d likely make it a separate division, like UHP has with SLCC and SLCPD has with the airport. You’d have cops that are want to do that work.

There’s pluses and minuses to both thought processes.

The plus side in this case is the U isn’t dealing with PR nightmares and answering why the UUPD dropped the ball in such horrific ways with Lauren McCluskey. Do they realize that a friend’s daughter who was sexually assaulted on campus won’t come forward because she is fearful of how Lauren was objectified by officers there?