1 of 4
John R Park Administration Building - The University of Utah 201 Presidents Circle Salt Lake City UT - photo: courtesy UofU

SALT LAKE CITY — The three finalists for 16th president of the University of Utah will meet constituency groups in a series of closed-door meetings on campus on Wednesday.

Each of the finalists will rotate individually among groups that include students, faculty, staff, deans, university trustees and others.

"The finalists will be at the front of the room fielding whatever questions that constituent group will throw at them," said Melanie Heath, spokeswoman for the Utah System of Higher Education.

What happens in the room is expected to stay in the room. Tweeting is not allowed nor is sharing on other forms of social media, Heath said.

A few questions, such as the finalists' respective religious beliefs or sexual orientation, will not be permitted, she said.

At the end of each meeting, higher education system staff will ask attendees if they have any feedback that they were not comfortable sharing with the candidate.

All feedback will be shared with the full board of regents on Thursday morning. The regents will then interview each of the finalists in executive session, Heath said.

In a public meeting, tentatively scheduled late Thursday afternoon, the regents will vote on the successor to President David Pershing, who is retiring. Pershing moved up the timetable of his planned retirement in the wake of the high-profile rift between U. Health and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The finalists, identified Friday by the U. and the Utah System of Higher Education, are:

• Nicholas P. Jones, executive vice president and provost at Pennsylvania State University.

Utah System of Higher Education
Nicholas P. Jones is the executive vice president and provost at Pennsylvania State University. He is one of three finalists for president of the University of Utah.

Jones 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 chairman of civil engineering.

Jones also served as dean of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He 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, executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia.

Katsouleas directs the academic administration of the 11 schools at the University of Virginia, the library, art museums, public service activities, university centers and foreign study programs.

Prior to joining UVA, he 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.

Utah System of Higher Education
Thomas Katsouleas is executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia. He is one of three finalist for president of the University of Utah.

• Ruth V. Watkins, senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Utah.

1 comment on this story

Watkins was appointed to her current position at the U. in 2013. She leads the U.'s 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.

Utah System of Higher Education
Ruth V. Watkins is senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Utah. She is one of three finalists for president of the University of Utah.