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Noelle Cockett And Herman du Toit On Monday's Access Utah

Club Runner

In the first half today, a conversation with Utah State University President, Noelle Cockett. We’ll talk about issues in higher education, including sexual assault on campus, immigration, and a recent controversial donation to USU from the Charles Koch Foundation.

In the second half, we’ll talk with Herman du Toit, former head of research and education at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, and current Education Director for the newly-formed Society of Mormon Artists. We’ll talk about devotional art, Mormon artists, and Dr. du Toit’s time as the head of the School of Fine Arts at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa, where he successfully petitioned for the provision of K-12 art education in the schools of the segregated Zulu people in the years before Apartheid was abolished.

Noelle E. Cockett was appointed as Utah State University’s 16th president in October 2016, beginning her official tenure in January 2017.

At the time of the announcement, Cockett was serving as executive vice president and provost at USU and has held that position since 2013. Prior to that, she served USU as vice president for Extension from 2006 to 2013; dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences from 2002 to 2013; and director of the Utah Agriculture Experiment Station from 2009 to 2013.

Cockett has built a distinguished career in sheep genomics research, maintaining an active research program even while serving in various leadership positions at USU. Her research program has centered on the identification of genetic markers associated with economically important traits in sheep, as well as the development of resources that advance research on the sheep genome. Cockett and her colleagues published an article describing the sheep genome sequence in Science in 2014. Her current project focuses on the identification of genetic regions associated with entropion in newborn lambs. Cockett has served as the United States coordinator for sheep genome mapping since 1993 and is an active member of the International Sheep Genomics Consortium.

As an active researcher, Cockett has received many awards and accolades throughout her career including a Young Scientist Award from the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology (2004 and 2015) and one of USU’s top honors, the D. Wynne Thorne Research Award.

After receiving her master’s and doctorate in animal breeding and genetics from Oregon State University, Cockett spent five years as a research geneticist at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. She joined USU in 1990 as a researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

Cockett grew up on a beef cattle ranch in eastern Montana and is married to John Cockett, director of technology in USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Noelle and John have two children, Dylan and Chantelle.


Herman du Toit is the author of several books on art and the Christian faith: “Masters of Light – Coming

Credit Saatchi Art

   unto Christ through Inspired Devotional Art” (Cedar Fort, 2016), “Art and Spirituality – The Visual Culture of Christian Faith” (BYU Studies, 2008), and “Art, Belief, Meaning” (BYU Studies, 2006).

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he has had an extensive career in the visual arts - ever since his sixth grade teacher awarded him a book prize for his very first charcoal drawings. As former head of the School of Fine Arts at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa, he successfully petitioned for the provision of K-12 art education in the schools of the segregated Zulu people in the years before Apartheid was abolished. He holds postgraduate degrees in art history, studio sculpture, and sociology of education from the former University of Natal, in South Africa. At BYU he completed a doctorate in educational leadership and he was awarded a J. Paul Getty fellowship for his PhD study of interpretive practices at some of America’s leading art museums.

Following this award he was appointed head of education and research at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art. During this period he also curated exhibitions by some of the country’s most celebrated sculptors - Albert Paley, Brower Hatcher, Richard Hunt, Judy Pfaff - and served as lead educator for the museum’s most acclaimed religious exhibitions. He convened numerous symposia and lecture series including the MOA’s biennial Art, Belief, Meaning symposium that drew presentations by some of the country's most talented artists, art writers, and commentators over the years. He retired from the museum in 2011 to continue his writing and to establish his own photogravure studio:

Herman du Toit is Education Director for the newly-formed Society of Mormon Artists. He and his wife Sandy live in Provo, Utah. They have four married children and fifteen grandchildren


Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.