r reflect

Fond Farewell


For Ruth V. Watkins, students came first. During her eight-year tenure as the U’s 16th president and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Watkins worked to expand access to the state’s flagship institution. She supported initiatives aimed at ensuring that every student has an excellent educational experience at the U. And she made degree completion a priority, recognizing that—as she often said—access without completion is a hollow promise.

The gaps in access and graduation rates for women and underrepresented students narrowed significantly under her leadership. Overall, the U’s completion rate reached a record 70 percent. But what may have impressed students most about President Watkins was this: Once she meets someone, she never forgets their name.

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  1. I was able to interact with Dr. Watkins on a few occasions while she was here. In the nearly 30 years working at the University, that had never happened with any President. While talking to her, I felt like she really cared about me and my success, personally and professionally. I appreciated her support for our students, particularly how she could help our largely non-traditional group of students. I know that completing our education was her primary goal and she put together initiatives that made it happen. As an employee, I saw systems and cultures change, too. I will always appreciate Dr. Watkins for her dedication to our institution. My best wishes as she moves on to make another corner of the world better.

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