University of Utah President Dr. Ruth Watkins – the school’s first female president – is stepping down at the end of April, she announced Tuesday, ending her tumultuous three-year tenure, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
She will next lead education nonprofit Strada Impact, where her work will center on increasing student degree completion.
“I believe the work of Strada Impact is more important today than ever before because completing college and securing employment will be especially crucial for millions of young Americans post-pandemic,” Watkins stated in a letter to the campus.
Under Watkins’s presidency, she and the school came under fire for the mishandling of student Lauren McCluskey’s murder case. The university settled a lawsuit filed by McCluskey’s parents in October, admitting that her death had been preventable. But “new issues have surfaced with the chief of police,” The Tribune reported.
Watkins became president in April 2018. In her letter, she discussed her work to get the school admitted into the Association of American Universities and the $2 billion-raised “One U for Utah” fundraising campaign.
During her tenure, Watkins worked to improve graduation rates, financially assist low-income students and increase the school’s diversity..