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Vice provost named dean of U. of I. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Phil Ciciora, News Editor

Ruth Watkins
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Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Ruth Watkins

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ruth Watkins, vice provost and a professor in the department of speech and hearing science, has been named the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pending approval by the U. of I. Board of Trustees at its Nov. 13 meeting at the U. of I. at Springfield.

Watkins, who began her tenure at Illinois as an assistant professor in the department of speech and hearing science in 1993, will begin her new duties Jan. 1, 2009. She succeeds Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, who was the dean of the college from 2004 until last August, when she was appointed dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

”I have relied on Ruth’s wise counsel and administrative work of the highest order from the start,” said Linda Katehi, provost of the Urbana campus. “She will bring to the job the skills, the intelligence, the knowledge, the experience and the energy needed to provide first-rate leadership for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I have complete confidence that Ruth will make a splendid dean for a college that resides at the academic heart of the university.”

Watkins was the associate provost with responsibilities for undergraduate education and academic affairs at Illinois in 2003 before becoming vice provost in 2006. As chief of staff in the provost’s office, she has been responsible for providing leadership to associate and assistant provosts; advice and support on matters of campus leadership and direction; and support, leadership and guidance for the Academic Council of Deans.

Watkins also has guided the provost’s strategic hiring efforts, has assisted with implementing the campus strategic plan and the annual review of progress indicators, and has managed the search processes and reviews for high-level campus positions. Most recently, she has provided leadership to a range of campus initiatives, including efforts to design a high visibility scholarship program for undergraduate students, and serving as the principal investigator for a project funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education to increase the presence and success of transfer students at the University of Illinois.

Watkins earned her bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Northern Iowa in 1985, her master’s in child language/speech-language pathology from the University of Kansas in 1987, and her doctorate in child language from the University of Kansas in 1989.

Watkins began her academic career as an assistant professor and program director at the University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, where she served from 1989 to 1993.

In 2000, Watkins became the associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Applied Life Studies (now the College of Applied Health Sciences) before becoming associate provost with a focus on undergraduate education and academic affairs in 2003.

Watkins received an Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award for both the department of speech and hearing science and the College of Applied Life Studies in 1998.

In 2003, she was named a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.