LAS names new dean of college

By Paolo Cisneros

Vice Provost Ruth Watkins is set to serve as the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Her assignment was approved Thursday by the University Board of Trustees at their meeting in Springfield.

Watkins will succeed Sarah Mangelsdorf, who left the University in August to serve as the dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

“LAS is such a wonderful college,” Watkins said.

“The most exciting thing is what a tremendous opportunity it is.”

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Watkins earned her bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Northern Iowa in 1985. Watkins continued on to earn her master’s degree in child language and speech-language pathology from the University of Kansas in 1987 and her doctorate in child language also from the University of Kansas in 1989.

Watkins arrived at the University as an assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science in 1993. She was named associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Applied Life Studies – now the College of Applied Health Sciences – in 2003 and became associate provost in 2003.

Provost Linda Katehi said Watkin’s experience makes her uniquely qualified for the position.

“Ruth has demonstrated and practiced skills that will make her an excellent leader,” she said.

“My hope is that Ruth will … take the time to work with the faculty and lead them forward in some very exciting ways.”

Watkins said that while she has yet to begin making specific plans for her new position in the College of LAS, she anticipates the work to begin in early in the spring semester.

“I anticipate that much of the spring semester will be dedicated to looking at where the college is and what are the most critical priorities moving forward.”

Watkins will assume her new position on Jan. 1.

Lindsay Prossnitz contributed to this report