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USU president to step down in July, will remain faculty member

Posted at 3:48 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 18:52:45-05

LOGAN, Utah — President Noelle Cockett, who has led Utah State University for six years, will be stepping down from the position in July 2023.

Cockett, who was USU's first female president, announced the news Tuesday in a letter to the university's faculty and staff.

"As I conclude my sixth year as president and my 32nd year at Utah State University, I’ve reflected on how I can continue to serve and support the institution I love so much," she wrote. "This reflection has led me to announce that I’m stepping down as president on July 1, 2023."

No specific reason behind her decision to step down was provided. However, Cockett will remain employed by USU as a tenured faculty member, according to an announcement from the university. The announcement added that she plans to continue her research in sheep genomics (the study of DNA), of which she has an extensive history.

Cockett was appointed as USU president in October 2016 and started in her role in January 2017. She succeeded Stan Albrecht, who was the president from 2005-2016.

Before her presidency, Cockett had a lengthy career in academia at USU. She began as a researcher and assistant professor in the agricultural field of study. She was the dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences from 2002-2013, then became the university's executive vice president and provost from 2013-2016.

Three months prior to Cockett stepping down, the Utah Statesman reported just days before the start of fall semester that Vice President James Morales was leaving, effective immediately. Morales oversaw the Office of Student Affairs at USU since 2009. The campus newspaper reported that, according to a university spokesperson, Cockett had "decided it is time to make a leadership change in the Division of Student Affairs.” However, it is not known whether these leadership changes are connected.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a USU spokesperson "declined to comment on whether Cockett had been asked to resign." The Tribune also reported that the Utah Board of Higher Education, which is responsible for hiring and firing public university presidents, met earlier this month in a closed session to discuss a personnel concern.

In Tuesday's press release announcing her resignation, the chairs of both the Utah Board of Higher Education and the USU Board of Trustees praised Cockett's work as president.