Ruth Watkins

President, Postsecondary Education

Strada Education Foundation

Ruth V. Watkins is president of postsecondary education at Strada Education Foundation, where she leads Strada’s research, philanthropy, and thought leadership efforts to help more individuals access and complete postsecondary education and training to improve their careers and lives. Before joining Strada in 2021, Watkins built a strong reputation for supporting social change and community workforce needs as the 16th president of the University of Utah. In that role, she increased degree completion rates and research funding, established innovative student funding models, and built strong partnerships with community stakeholders. During Watkins' tenure, the university produced more graduates in high-demand fields than any other state institution, and those graduates secured employment or proceeded to graduate or professional school at noteworthy rates. Watkins previously served as the University of Utah’s senior vice president for academic affairs for five years before being appointed president. Earlier in her career, she spent 20 years in leadership and faculty roles at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, vice provost, and associate provost. Watkins graduated with highest honors from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in child language at the University of Kansas.