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Oct. 22 Weekly Update With Noelle Cockett

Kerry Bringhurst: You're listening to Utah Public Radio. Time now for our weekly update with Utah State University President Noelle Cockett, who has some good news as Utah State University was recognized in College Magazine in their top 10 colleges deserving recognition for the response to COVID-19. 

President Noelle Cockett: Utah State ranked number six, and we're just so excited. And it was really, I think, our focus on our students and how we could help them. It talked about that we had come up with a broad array of delivery for classes—face to face to fully remote to all combinations in between. That we gave prorated refunds on resident halls when we had to quickly shut down in spring semester. Trying to be innovative with our academic calendar to reduce risk of infections such as going to remote after Thanksgiving. We distributed CARES funding, as well as our student hardship funds, which had been brought in through private donations to 21,000 of our 28,000 students to help them financially.


KB: Does that put pressure on you to continue the momentum?


NC: You betcha You betcha. It's just been such a university wide effort—all of our campuses. And the feeling is good. Our staff, we're very, very proud of being recognized in that way. So it feels good, it feels good. I mean, we're in week eight, and going strong. And it’s really stunning that in a time where case numbers are increasing in the state, and even in Cache Valley, the numbers on our campus are remaining flat. So our people are working hard to stay safe and stay healthy.

KB: Because of the warmer weather I have seen more and more students and their instructors gathering outside, social distancing, holding their classes. We know the weather is going to change. That will then force those classes to return indoors. That is a concern.

NC: Absolutely right. We're finding more spaces that our students can go, since the nice weather looks like it's going to end. We'll have wireless available so people can you know, do their work or Zoom or whatever, even in the Spectrum. With proper social distancing, that Spectrum can hold, you know, hundreds of students in between classes. 


And we got some help from the state to do the wireless and it has a silver lining, that people now have good connections when they come to watch a basketball game.


KB: My question is, will the concessions be open for students when they come in to study because that would be a pull for me. Eat my popcorn and do my homework.

NC: That's the plan. That's the plan.

KB: Will the Spectrum be open all the time? 

NC: I imagine there'll be certain hours. But it'll move into the evenings, you know, so from 8 a.m. to the mid to late evenings. But again, trying to find places that will spread our students out in between classes. 


People are tired of the virus and you know, they're just, “gosh, I just want to go out and meet some friends or I just want to go to a restaurant or I just want to go to a shopping trip to Salt Lake.” And that's where then they experience that increased risk of infection. 

So I've done a series of messages, particularly with Halloween, and the holidays coming up that we need to carry the precautions that we're doing on our campus, which are working fabulously into our social world as well. 

There's also a lot of encouragement for people to get the flu shot this year.


KB: And employees on the Logan campus. There will be another flu vaccine clinic on November 17. And we'll bring you more information on that. Possibly in the next couple of weeks. 


USU President Noelle Cockett thanks again for taking the time to join us here on Utah Public Radio.

At 14-years-old, Kerry began working as a reporter for KVEL “The Hot One” in Vernal, Utah. Her radio news interests led her to Logan where she became news director for KBLQ while attending Utah State University. She graduated USU with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and spent the next few years working for Utah Public Radio. Leaving UPR in 1993 she spent the next 14 years as the full time mother of four boys before returning in 2007. Kerry and her husband Boyd reside in Nibley.