Ruth Watkins

President, Postsecondary Education, Strada Education Foundation

Ruth Watkins serves as president of postsecondary education at Strada Education Foundation. As president, she leads research, grantmaking and institutional change efforts to help create more equitable pathways to opportunity through education after high school.

Before joining Strada, Watkins built a strong reputation for supporting student success through institutional change at two large public research institutions, the University of Utah and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, At Utah, first as senior vice president for academic affairs/provost and later as president, the university significantly increased degree completion and research funding, established innovative models of student support, and built strong partnerships with community stakeholders. Uniting the campus as “One U,” Watkins’ leadership drove innovation in research, education, and operational efficiency, and addressed several of Utah’s major societal challenges such as water, climate and air quality; mental health; and interpersonal violence. Under Watkins’’ leadership, the University of Utah cultivated broad and deep connections to communities and was responsive to the state’s workforce needs. During her tenure, the university produced more graduates in high-demand fields than any other state institution. In 2019, the University of Utah was invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). Watkins is a frequent public speaker and influential leader in a wide range of national contexts.