The University of Utah Presidential Search

University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins announced on Jan. 12, 2021, she is stepping down in April 2021 to accept a position as president of Strada Impact.

This site will provide ongoing updates about the search for a new president to lead the University of Utah, beginning with background about the process as outlined below.

The Utah Board of Higher Education oversees the selection of new presidents for public universities and colleges throughout the state. It announced a presidential search committee for the U’s top post in February.

As outlined by policy R203, the committee includes representatives of the Utah Board of Higher Education and faculty, staff, students, senior administrators at the U, the U’s Board of Trustees, alumni and community.

The committee will host public meetings to explain the search process and to seek input on qualifications of ideal candidates to carry forward the U’s momentum. It also will oversee the search, receive nominations and applications, and review and vet applicants.

Once the search committee identifies three to five leading candidates, it will forward the names of those individuals to the Utah Board of Higher Education and the executive committee of the U’s Board of Trustees for additional evaluation. The Utah Board of Higher Education will then select the new president.

Please submit nominations, applications or inquiries to Zachary Smith of WittKieffer, the consulting firm assisting with the search, at:

The Search Process

The Utah Board of Higher Education oversees the selection of new presidents for public universities and colleges throughout the state. It expects to announce a presidential search committee for the U’s top post by the end of January 2021.

Open application deadlines will be announced once the search committee has been formed.

The Presidential Search Committee

On Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, the Utah Board of Higher Education named a 30-member committee to conduct a national search for the next president of the University of Utah. The committee is being led by Harris H. Simmons, chair of the Utah Board of Higher Education, and Christian Gardner, chair of the University of Utah Board of Trustees.

On Feb. 19, 2021, the Utah Board of Higher Education named Dr. Michael L. Good, senior vice president for Health Sciences, as interim president. He will assume the position in April.

In addition to members of the Utah Board of Higher Education, the search committee includes representatives of the U’s trustees, faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni and community members.

“The University of Utah is an institution of great national and international prominence with respect to its research, health care system, academic standing and student success,” Simmons said. “I am thankful for the time and expertise these committee members will be devoting to the process and I am confident in their ability to finalize a list of highly qualified candidates from which the board can ultimately select the 17th president of the University of Utah.”

The Presidential Search Committee will host public forums in coming weeks to receive input from the U community and the general public that will inform its work. Dates for those forums have not yet been set. Based on that feedback, the committee will approve a position announcement and issue a call for nominations and applications, aided by a national search firm.

The committee will screen applications and conduct interviews with candidates. The committee will then recommend three to five semifinalists to the Utah Board of Higher Education. The board intends to name a new president by fall 2021 but will take the time necessary to find the most qualified candidate.

The search committee members, in addition to Simmons and Gardner, are:

Utah Board of Higher Education

Crystal Maggelet

Shawn Newell

Harris Simmons

Arthur Newell

U of U Board of Trustees

Christian Gardner

Katie Eccles

David Parkin

Kim Brunisholz

Administration, Faculty & Staff

Randy Dryer

Academic Senate President; lecturer, Honors College, College of Law

Smitha Warrier

Assistant professor (clinical), Department of Anesthesiology

Mary Elizabeth Hartnett

Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences; adjunct professor, Neurobiology & Anatomy Labs & Pediatrics

Randall Peterson

Dean, College of Pharmacy; professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology

Sneha Kasera

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Engineering; professor, School of Computing

Al Landon

Assistant dean, Business Relations, David Eccles School of Business; adjunct professor, accounting

Chris Linder

Associate professor, Educational Leadership and Policy, College of Education; director, McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention

Matthew Sigman

Peter and Christine S. Stang Presidential Endowed Chair, Chemistry; chair, Department of Chemistry; Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

Martell Teasley

Dean and professor, College of Social Work

Alison Flynn Gaffney

Executive director, Service Lines, Ancillary & Support Services, U of U Hospitals & Clinics

Mary Ann Villarreal

Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Bryce Williams

President, Staff Council

Heidi Woodbury

Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Helene A. Shugart

Director of Graduate Studies
Professor, Department of Communications

Sarah Creem-Regehr

Professor, Department of Psychology
College of Social & Behavioral Science

Community & Alumni

Clark Ivory

CEO of Ivory Homes

Kathie Miller

Member, U of U Health Educational Resource Development Council

Jennifer Price-Wallin

Chair of College of Fine Arts Advisory Board

Charles Sorenson

President/CEO Emeritus Intermountain Healthcare; Founding Director, Intermountain Healthcare Leadership Institute

U of U Students

Merry Joseph

Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering, Psychology

Ethan Ramos

Undergraduate Computer Science

Claudia Loayza

Graduate Student Architecture + Planning