May 5 Weekly Meeting With USU President Noelle Cockett

May 5, 2021


I'm Kerry Bringhurst and joining me is Utah State University President Noelle Cockett. A lot of activity underway throughout the state as graduation ceremonies are taking place including at our statewide campuses and here in Logan.

NC: We've finished the graduation ceremonies at our statewide campuses. They went extremely well. Our Vice President for statewide campuses, Larry Smith, said that students were extremely appreciative of having that chance to celebrate the degree. Tonight at 7 p.m., the virtual commencement ceremony will go live. And our campus just looks fantastic. The facilities group has really buffed and polished every part of the campus so that it looks its best and starting to see those students walking around in their graduation gowns, popping up on the A to get their photo. It's just, it's really a great time of celebration.

 

KB: Many department heads now are planning retreats. Is the university allowing faculty and departments to get together?

 

NC: We used to say plan on it being virtual, and maybe it could go in person. Now we're saying plan on being in person. And if worse came to worse, then you would need to pivot to virtual. That's actually moving in the right direction.

 

KB: We've discussed this in the past, but I still have people asking me about required vaccinations when returning to classes in the fall here at Utah State University.

 

NC: Well, first, I would like to say we certainly, certainly recommend those who can to be vaccinated. It really is going to be the way that we can continue to reduce these precautions, and to be able to have more in-person things, to be able to reduce that social distancing and eventually remove the masks. 

 

But it is not possible for us to require a vaccination as a condition of employment because we are a government public organization. And we feel that, for those that have reasons for not being vaccinated, that rather than go through the process of having people submit why they aren't going to be vaccinated, not require it of our students. But, instead, strongly encourage. 

 

KB: Finally, Utah has reached the COVID-19 pandemic endgame. That was announced by the governor earlier this week. According to health officials, that means that most state and local health orders will end this week. What does this change mean for Utah State University?

 

NC: How we move forward in the summer, and especially into the fall, will depend on what the numbers are at our counties where our campuses are, and also within this state. And if  things continue to look as good as they are now, my guess is we'll be able to reduce the requirement of masks, at least in our outside activities and events, classes that are held outside and also when gatherings are under that threshold of where masks are recommended. So we're just watching and hopeful that we continue to move in the right direction here in the state and that means we'll be able to reduce some of the emphasis on masks.

 

KB: President Noelle Cockett, we know there is plenty to do as graduation ceremonies get underway on the Logan campus at Utah State University. We'll let you go and look forward to talking with you next week.

 

NC: My pleasure.