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University of Utah President Ruth Watkins resigns
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University of Utah president to accept new job elsewhere

FILE: University of Utah President Ruth Watkins addresses the media during a press briefing on the fatal shooting of Lauren McCluskey at the Rice-Eccles Stadium ticket office in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018. University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy is at left (Photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The woman who has led the University of Utah through some tumultuous times has accepted the position of president at Strada Impact, the U. said in a statement. 

U. President Ruth Watkins plans to step down from the University of Utah in April, with a search beginning immediately for her replacement. 

“University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins announced Tuesday she has accepted a position of Strada Impact, where she will drive Strada Education Network’s national research, philanthropy, policy and thought leadership to improve students’ access to college, degree completion and career connections,” the statement said. 

Watkins announced the move in a letter to the campus community, the school said. 

The Utah Board of Higher Education will begin its national search for a new president immediately, with members of a presidential search committee appointed by the end of January. 

Selected to serve as president of the University of Utah in 2018, Watkins will have just finished three years of service when she departs in April. She is the first woman to serve as permanent leader of the U., though a woman served as interim president during two other time frames. 

During Watkins’ tenure, the University of Utah went through a series of changes, notably with the murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, which led to an overhaul of campus safety and a settlement with McCluskey’s family