A future that is boundless

By nearly every measure, the University of Utah is on the rise—from graduation rates to research project funding and prestigious national rankings and recognitions. And that is why President Ruth Watkins uses one word to describe the U’s future: boundless.

In her first State of the U address, Watkins highlighted accomplishments of the past year and goals for the future. Watkins spoke Jan. 7, 2019, to a group that included faculty, deans, students, staff, trustees and donors.

“We are changing people’s lives by focusing on the quality of the student experience and getting people through the degree they came for,” Watkins said. “We’re attracting great people to the University of Utah. They are succeeding in doing their work here. They are staying here and they are earning the kind of national recognition that makes a difference. That’s a good story—a major point of pride for the university.”

The event also served as a celebration of the U’s remarkable accomplishment in achieving a record $515 million in research project funding (see story and video here).

“That success shows the value, the importance, and the impact of our researchers,” Watkins said. “When we look at the University of Utah, our unique strengths are our comprehensive excellence. The breath that we have as an institution, with an academic medical center, a comprehensive campus, sharing the same physical footprint, as OneU, we can achieve anything.”

The president asked the audience to envision what the U might accomplish in the next three to five years. Among other ideas, the audience suggested a future in which students are graduating at even higher rates; the U’s online program grows significantly; there is greater diversity of students, faculty and staff; and the U is known for an inclusive environment that fosters the greatest possible development of human potential.

Watkins shared some aspirations that are top-of-mind in her administration, including the newly launched Invest in U program to help students finish their degrees more quickly; the Imagine New Heights capital campaign; and extending the U’s health and educational reach to put its offerings closer to fast-growing population areas.

“Today is a great day to celebrate everything that has been done and all that is ahead for the future,” Watkins said. “I’m just delighted to celebrate what we’ve done, but I’m equally enthusiastic about the next phase.”

Click here to read a transcript of the event and watch the video below.