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Letter: U. president will be missed

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ruth Watkins laughs at her gift of a pillow with the printed words "A Utah Woman Am I," presented by Harris H. Simmons, with the board of regents, center, and H. David Burton with the board of trustees, as she is inaugurated as the University of Utah's 16th president, and first female, at Kingsbury Hall on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Watkins announced Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 that she is stepping down and has accepted a post to lead Strada Impact, a national education program focused on getting students to complete college.

That is how the saying ends anyhow, “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” As I have watched the negative rhetoric fly around denouncing University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, and celebrating her departure, I can’t help but shake my head.

Those of us who have been in the trenches with Watkins know her to be a transformative and collaborative leader who steadied a shaky ship and delivered on her promises. The campus has been graced by her uncanny ability to serve others, support students, and connect with the wealthiest of donors to the poorest of heart and make them Imagine U.

From spearheading an innovative financing program “Invest in U” to shouldering the load of a broken campus during tragedy and pandemic, Watkins has carried it all in stride; with her signature smile when appropriate, and listening ear when necessary. There is no doubt that the U. is a better place because of Watkins, and the void that will be left will remind those who support the state’s flagship institution, just how good we had it.

Thank you, President Watkins, you will be missed!

Joshua Sine, Salt Lake City

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