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USU President Noelle Cockett plans to step down next summer

Noelle Cockett, a white woman with hair that falls to her jaw, is smiling.
Portrait of USU President Noelle Cockett.

On Thursday, Utah State University President Noelle Cockett announced that she is planning to step down from her position as university president effective on July 1st, 2023.

In a letter to the university, Cockett wrote, “The decades I have been at USU have convinced me that all of our amazing institutional accomplishments have been possible because of the hard work and commitment of each one of you and those who preceded you as university faculty, staff and supporters.”

No reason was given for her departure, but Cockett said she intends to continue her work at USU as tenured faculty.

Elected as USU’s first female president in 2017, Cockett has a long history at the university, beginning in 1990 as a faculty member in Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Science. Her focus on agriculture earned her previous positions as dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station.

In her six years as university president, Cockett obtained funding for Utah’s onlycollege of veterinary medicine, secured USU’s ranking as a Carnegie R1 research institute, and oversaw the creation of the Janet Quinney LawsonInstitute for Land, Water and Air.

Brian Steed, the executive director of the Institute for Land, Water and Air, said the creation of the institute has allowed USU to showcase its environmental research.

“Utah State has a tremendous history developing research and policy recommendations on land, water and air. President Cockett was instrumental in finding that there was a real need out there for more information to be publicized about how Utah State was involved in the space. And by setting up the institute…we were able to get out in front of policymakers and really make this great research known,” Steed said.

Steed highlighted Cockett’s commitment to agriculture and environmental research, and said it was crucial for getting the institute up and running.

“She set up our Research Landscapes colloquium series in 2019…and then in December of 2021, was able to get the funding in order to have a named Institute for Land, Water and Air from the Janet Quinney Lawson Foundation. So really, President Cockett has been there every step of the way,” Steed said.

The Utah State Board of Higher Education will begin the search for USU’s next president immediately.

Read USU’s full press release at

Emily started her journey at UPR in 2018 as an Access Utah producer. She fell in love with public radio, and went on to host weekend programming and produce the Utah Women & Leadership Podcast. She currently manages the website and office. Emily enjoys cooking and TV, and loves to read sci-fi, fantasy and poetry.
Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.