Salt Lake City—The Utah State Board of Regents has selected Ruth V. Watkins as the 16th president of the University of Utah. Watkins is the first woman to lead the University of Utah — the state’s oldest, largest and only Research 1 higher education institution — in its 168-year history. (Jerilyn S. McIntyre served as interim president of the U twice, for two months in 1991 and all of 1997.) Watkins will assume the position this spring – an exact date will be determined in the coming weeks. She succeeds David W. Pershing, who has served as president since 2012 and will officially step down to rejoin the U as a faculty member. A 25-member Presidential Search Committee, co-chaired by David Burton, chair of the U’s Board of Trustees, and Board of Regents Vice Chair Harris H. Simmons, selected Watkins from a pool of national candidates as one of three finalists announced Jan. 12. Watkins currently is senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the U, a position she assumed in August 2013. In that role, she has worked closely with campus leaders to set the university’s strategic direction and align the U’s resources with its academic priorities. She has been an advocate for advancing the success and impact of the U as a top-tier research university, including enhancing student success through degree completion and expanding research and creative activity. Watkins came to Utah from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she spent 20 years in leadership and faculty roles, including associate provost for Undergraduate Education, vice provost and chief of staff, and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She began her academic career at the University of Texas at Dallas. Watkins graduated with highest honors from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in child language at the University of Kansas; her scholarship focuses on communication development and disabilities in young children. Watkins’ research and training endeavors have been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education, as well as Lumina Foundation. She also has a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology. In 2003, she was named a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Lehi—NFP, a leading insurance broker and consultant that provides employee benefits, property & casualty (P&C), retirement and individual private client solutions, has announced Clint Wadsworth has joined its team as a Vice President for Corporate Benefits. Wadsworth has been assigned to oversee and help lead the corporate benefits strategy within NFP’s existing large employer segment. He will also focus on developing new relationships by increasing awareness about NFP’s unique integrated services that have recently been introduced in the Utah market. Wadsworth brings with him 19 years of experience as a consultant and leader within the insurance industry. Prior to NFP, he served as the Director of Sales for Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii. With Kaiser, he successfully led the sales team in expanding Kaiser’s footprint within the Hawaiian market. In addition to Wadsworth’s leadership experience, he has also spent almost 14 years as a Benefits Consultant in the Utah market. He has his Masters of Business Administration from Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Cedar City—Following months of interviews with qualified candidates from across the country, Southern Utah University has announced Dr. Schvalla Rivera as the new Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion. Previously, Rivera was the Dean of Students at Western Nebraska Community College, and is equipped with a diverse professional portfolio. The Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion is a new position developed to implement diversity and equity opportunities across all aspects on campus. Rivera will function as a subject matter expert on institutional diversity and inclusion as it relates to governance, administrative policies, and federal and state regulations. Other responsibilities include working with Enrollment Management to recruit and admit students with diverse backgrounds, collaborating with Human Resources to identify and hire a diverse pool of applicants and institute ongoing diversity trainings for new and current employees and develop community outreach strategies that focus on building positive relationships between the community and underrepresented populations. Rivera earned both her M.S. in Political Science and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in teaching, learning, and leadership from Indiana State University. She is certified in both psychological first aid and Title IX and Civil Rights Investigators. She is also a Certified Diversity Executive, which comes from at least five years of progressive work experience in the field of diversity or HR. While SUU has some faculty and staff members from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, there are currently no African American or Native American faculty members, and only one Latino faculty member outside of those who teach languages. At the same time, students of color have grown to more than 10% of the student body as a whole. Rivera hopes to change that by creating a welcoming environment in which diversity is respected with the goal to help recruit and retain diverse students, faculty, administrators and staff. Rivera describes herself as a visionary, energetic, creative problem solver who is a critical thinking leader with 10 years of experience and a diverse work history which includes; training development and delivery, diversity and inclusion initiatives, team building/leadership, project management, mediation, counseling and community building.
Ogden—The Utah Ready Mixed Concrete Association is officially up and running after hiring an Executive Director this month. The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) announced its first state partnership with the newly established Utah Ready Mixed Concrete Association (URMCA) in October. The URMCA has been in the initial operating process for the past year. They can now get to work as a fully operational organization in 2018 with the help of their new Executive Director, Brad Stevenson. Stevenson has 35 years’ experience working in the industry. The URMCA includes most of the ready-mixed producers in the area and, in the future, may begin to include associate members such as local contractors. Current businesses on board include: Geneva Rock Products, Jack B. Parson Companies, Altaview Concrete, Ash Grove Cement, Holcim and Mountain Cement.
Pleasant Grove—Jenessa Young has been named as Board Member for the Pleasant Grove/Lindon Chamber of Commerce. She will serve on committees, including Advocacy, Small Business, and The Fredette Family Foundation. Young is responsible for the in-house interior design and space planning efforts for the design department at St. John Properties – Utah region. Responsibilities include the 19,000 square foot six floor Grove Tower at Valley Grove, as well as other rapidly rising commercial buildings in this 62-acre development. Her experience includes design work on more than 500,000 square feet of commercial, hospitality, and mutli-family buildings. Young received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Life with an emphasis in Interior Design from Brigham Young University.
Salt Lake City—NorthMarq Capital, a leader in financing commercial real estate throughout the United States, announced that Adam Cornelius has joined its Salt Lake City office serving as vice president. In his new role at NorthMarq, Cornelius originate, underwrite and close commercial real estate transactions involving both debt and equity solutions for clients, sourced through the entire capital stack. Cornelius works across all property type for the “life of the loan,” but focuses on multifamily properties with an affordable component. Cornelius comes to NorthMarq, having been involved in the commercial real estate industry since 2010. Having spent time at both Western Capital and later Marcus & Millichap as an originator, he has developed an optimism for the Salt Lake City CRE industry, which has experienced remarkable growth over the past few years. Cornelius has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Utah. He actively supports Escalera, an organization that provides educational opportunities to children in Mexico.
Salt Lake City—Utah Food Bank President and CEO Jim Yorgason announced his plans to retire later this year. The announcement comes following years of service at Utah Food Bank. He joined in 2010 as COO and later took the helm as President and Chief Executive Officer in June of 2013. More than 32.7 million meals were provided to Utah families in 2017. During his tenure, annual food distribution statewide increased from 30.8 million pounds to 39.2 million pounds. The search for Yorgason’s replacement is underway. Yorgason will continue in his role until the new President and CEO is named and he plans to assist in the transition. In compliance with Utah Food Bank bylaws, the Governance Committee, led by Board Chair-Elect Ryan Dent, will organize and oversee the search committee in the selection of the new President and CEO. In addition to Dent, the committee includes Board Chair David Allred, Past-Board Chair Scott Jensen as well as other board members. Under his leadership, Utah Food Bank achieved significant local and national accomplishments. Yorgason was instrumental in maintaining Utah Food Bank’s reputation as a trusted and esteemed nonprofit. Additionally, his focus on community and collaboration has helped grow partner agency participation, as well as volunteer service hours. While remaining financially sound and debt free, Utah Food Bank has grown its services to include 149 pantries in 29 counties, expanded its Mobile School Pantry Program and increased food distribution from its Southern Distribution Center in St. George to serve a greater number of those in need. Through the implementation of Information Technology to monitor risk and eliminate donor vulnerabilities while increasing facility and staff security, Utah Food Bank became a leader in the national Feeding America network. This process resulted in a new, state of the art website and has significantly enhanced donor confidence. When he hands over the helm to the new President and CEO, Yorgason and his wife, Linda, plan to focus on their bucket list, spending time with family, friends, travel and volunteering. He will also spend time focusing on his passion for golf and collector cars.