When Utah State University President Noelle Cockett meets USU graduates around the nation and world, they say, “I’m an Aggie.”
It’s one of her favorite things about USU, Cockett said during her “State of the University” presentation to the Utah State Board of Regents Friday on the USU campus.
“That epitomizes what we are doing here at Utah State,” she said. “Once they come here, they feel that they are members of a family.”
USU was recently ranked fifth of all public institutions in the nation by Washington Monthly, and 13th overall, Cockett announced in her address. Colleges and universities were ranked based on social mobility, student research and student service.
Cockett said the university focuses on three main areas for student success: completing college in a timely manner, high impact practices and career training.
USU has changed the tuition plateau so that students can now take 12-18 credits for the same cost. Cockett said this was a successful push that has saved students money and helped them graduate sooner. Changes in math class options and math placement programs have helped students earn their required general credits without having to take as much remedial math.
As a way to improve student retention, Cockett talked about the push to help students experience at least two “high-impact practices.” These include undergraduate research, internships, study abroad, senior capstone projects, common literature assignments (part of the “Connections” class for freshmen), Focused Fridays (offered to all students through the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business), and community engagement.
Cockett praised USU’s regional campuses, distance education and applied technology programs. Stackable credentials, applied associate’s degrees and statewide programs that work together — like the nursing program — have opened new doors for and made a large impact on students all over the state.
Cockett told the Regents about the 2017 non-consensual sexual contact survey and things the university has done to improve awareness. Only 5 percent of students surveyed knew how to report an assault to the Title IX Office. In response, USU has expanded its efforts to spread awareness on how to report.
“Our campuses will become more safe because now we know where, when and how those different kinds of assaults are occurring,” Cockett said.
She also talked about the $13 student fee and .5 percent second-tier tuition increase implemented for the 2017-18 year to increase funding for more psychologists, educational resources, and faculty and staff awareness programs.
Cockett concluded by showing a video of the Connections Luminary, a new USU tradition including a symbolic walk from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to the Quad.
“Who do you think you will have become?” she asked students at the event. “How will you look back at the four years you spent at USU?”