Who will be the next U of U president?

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah)- Over the last several months the 25-member Presidential Search Committee with University of Utah has been interviewing potential candidates to fill the position as president of the university.

Current president, David W. Pershing, announced his plans to step down in May after the resignation of Dr. Vivian Lee as CEO and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences.

"Given the fact that we are launching a search for a new Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, I thought it important to begin the search for a new president now — to run simultaneously with our SVP search — so that we have a new president in place when we are making the final decision on a Health Sciences SVP, which is a role of great importance to our university," Pershing said in a statement.

Friday, the committee released the names of three finalists they are recommending to the State Board of Regents for the position.

Dr. Nicholas P. Jones, Dr. Thomas Katsouleas and Dr. Ruth V. Watkins.

The finalists will be on campus Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 to meet with facility, staff, students, and administration. The following day, the Board of Regents will interview the finalists. 

University officials say the board may convene a public meeting on the 4th floor of Rice-Eccles Stadium at 5:30 p.m. that day to select the president. However, it may convene at another time, which will be announced at a later date.


Nicholas P. Jones serves as executive vice president and provost at The Pennsylvania State University. He is responsible for the oversight of all of Penn State’s research and educational programs, institutional budget, strategic planning and for the general academic welfare of the faculty and students. Prior to Penn State, he was the Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins, and previously professor and chair of civil engineering. He also served as dean of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jones holds a master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from Caltech and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Auckland.


Thomas Katsouleas is executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, where he directs the academic administration of the 11 schools, the library, art museums, public service activities, university centers and foreign study programs. Prior to coming to UVA, Katsouleas served as dean of the Pratt School of Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University and taught at the University of Southern California. Katsouleas earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in physics from UCLA.


Ruth V. Watkins serves as the senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Utah. Appointed in 2013, she provides leadership for the academic mission, guiding the campus on matters related to faculty, staff and students, and works to set the university’s strategic direction and align resources with academic priorities. She has worked to enhance student success through degree completion and expand research and creative activity. Watkins came to Utah following 20 years in leadership and faculty roles at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in child language at the University of Kansas.


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