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April 30 Weekly Meeting With USU President Noelle Cockett

Tom Williams here. I have with me on the line Utah State University President Noelle Cockett. President Cockett, thanks, as always, for joining us.NC: It's my pleasure. Always like to give the update on how Utah State is doing. 


TW: Well, the next big thing happening, at least on the main campus of Utah State University, is commencement, May 6th and 7th. Before we get into that, I'd like to have you mention just briefly, I was noticing that USU Blanding had their commencement already, I think, on the 23rd and you conferred degrees virtually to those graduates.


NC: Yes. Actually, all of our statewide campuses, other than Moab, did or are doing their in-person ceremonies across those communities. And then I was videoed and will appear in each of those ceremonies conferring the degree. So that included Uintah Basin, Blanding and Eastern had their ceremonies. And then Toelle, Brigham city, will be holding those. And then later in the week, Thursday, Friday, then Logan's ceremonies will help.


TW: So tell us about those ceremonies. What a difference a year makes, right? Tell us about the Logan commencement.


NC: Oh yes. Well, we know the precautions that are necessary and our people are very, very comfortable with that. And of course, the numbers are lower infections than they were last spring. Folks might remember that a year ago last spring, numbers were climbing very dramatically. And we just didn't know much about it. In fact, I'm not sure we even were aware of how important masks and social distancing were. So, because we had dismissed all the students, we were not able to, you know, bring them back in a safe way. And so instead, we distributed a graduation box in July that contained their diploma cover, their degree, their actual diploma, their tassel and then different things from their respective colleges, such as maybe medals, or socks or stickers. And that was for the 2020 graduates.


This year, as we moved forward, we realized that, you know, with appropriate social distancing, we could bring groups together and with some of the reduction of the restrictions such as being outside and the spacing that we know we can do. And so the ceremonies, statewide, were divided up in numbers, such that each graduate could bring two guests and still maintain appropriate social distancing. That required Eastern actually to have two separate ceremonies, one at 10:00 a.m. and I believe the other was at 1:00 p.m. And here, we broke the ceremonies up by colleges and then within each college, broke up the numbers again so every graduate could attend and bring two guests. 


And then another component that we incorporated was full cleaning and sanitation between each group of people. So allowing people to leave then thoroughly cleaning the area and then bringing that next group in. So rather than graduates congregating outside a venue waiting for the previous group to finish, there actually is about an hour break between each group. So again, you know, wanting to keep our graduates and their guests as safe as possible. 


The traditional University Commencement ceremony where people would congregate for the commencement speakers, the honorary degree conferring, my comments, those are actually all virtual, a single video of about 45 minutes long. That will be released Wednesday evening. 


TW: Well, we thank you so much. We've been talking with Utah State University President Noelle Cockett. Thanks again.


NC: Well, thank you, Tom. Always good to be with you.