“Diversity, inclusion and respect. These are very important values for me,” said Utah State University's president Noelle Cockett at her state of the university address on Tuesday.
Though she introduced this initiative toward the end of her address, Cockett highlighted the importance of the goal as one of her top priorities for the upcoming year.
“As people say, it’s not just diversity. You don’t just bring diverse people to a unit or a campus and hope it all goes well. We need to support this concept through inclusion and respect all across our community,” Cockett said.
One such program included USU’s creation of the LatinX Cultural Center helmed by Chris Gonzalez, an associate professor in the English department. According to Cockett, participation in the center has increased at the Logan campus in the last year, as has enrollment of Hispanic students and students with two-or-more races.
“We need to have the hard conversations sometimes to be able to move forward," Cockett said. "It’s these conversations that are going to build that inclusion and respect here at Utah State.”
Campus safety was also discussed as an audience member asked her opinion on how to best protect students.
“You know, I would like to say we will always keep our faculty, students and staff safe. That is a probably a promise that I just shouldn’t be making. But I think we can always do more to keep them safer.”
Cockett referenced results from the most recent Student Sexual Misconduct survey report showed 92% of the more-than 7,000 students who filled out the survey said they felt safe on campus. Several of the safety efforts enacted by Utah State in the past few years include the Code Blue emergency response system and the Utah State Safe app, where students can call police, report incidents and follow-up on Code Blue alerts.
The president praised the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art's events associated with the Year of the Woman initiative Cockett kicked off on Aug. 26 to correspond with state and federal anniversaries associated with the Women Suffrage movement and listed continued community outreach as a priority for the year.
New fundraising campaigns were introduced that will go toward increasing scholarships for women returning to college and first-generation scholars. Cockett said the goal was to "fund these programs in perpetuity."
Other goals included continued support for the university's entrepeneurial and research endeavors.