President Cockett visits USUE

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Meetings held with Students, Staff, Faculty and Community
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 8:48pm

Utah State University President Noelle Cockett spent her first full day on Eastern’s campus visiting students, faculty, staff and community leaders April 3. Cockett reached out to students to better understand what needs to change at Eastern.

Cockett spoke to each of the three groups; students, faculty and staff separately, with no crossover in between groups and no administration. It created a safe space so all felt like they could speak freely and frankly.

Students

As soon as Cockett spoke to the students, they expressed their appreciation and love for Eastern. She asked what students liked about Eastern. V.P. of Activities, Vivika Corona, said, “I am very proud to be an Eagle and I’m proud to be at Eastern, because it feels like a big family here.”

After hearing about pride the students had for their school, Cockett shifted the focus to degrees at Eastern. She wants to continue to bring more options and bachelor’s programs to Eastern. Cockett also focused on the importance of Career Technical Programs, or CTEs, and hopes to grow those programs on Eastern’s campus.

SUN Center president, Cody Merritt, asked why the recreational classes were taken away, and Cockett said she would love to find ways to partner with the community recreation center to bring back some of those programs.

At the end of the meeting, Cockett admires how the students love and have pride in Price. “It is amazing how much love the people have for Eastern.”

Cockett asked how the integration with USU was going for the students. A student said, “We need to be viewed as [an] equal to Logan, not as a step below the ladder.” She replied, “I don’t agree with the way USU Eastern has been treated.” (contributed by Dean Thacker)

Staff

Addressing the staff, Cockett was asked about the potential hike of tuition rates and assured everyone that rates would not be rising in lower-level classes. “Yes, I would love to raise the prices of the 1000 and 2000-level classes, but I understand that the lower prices work for this campus.”

When questioned about USU Eastern’s identity from an upset CEU alumni, Cockett questioned whether or not the president should have any say in that matter. “I want you to keep your mascot. We should celebrate the culture of Eastern and not pretend that its history stopped existing when it merged with USU.” She asked if everyone was “okay” with the USU Eastern title; she was met with a unanimous “yes.”

Head soccer coach, Ammon Bennett asked, “What is your commitment to us (Eastern athletics) when our budget is so much smaller than the schools we go up against.” Cockett claimed USU has an athletic budget contributed by donations and ticket sales.

Regarding Eastern’s budget and USU’s budget being separate, Cockett assured staff that she does not share this view and that USU’s budget should be seen as a system. (contributed by Veronica Tita)

Faculty

The president met with faculty for an hour and half and discussed many of the same issues discussed in the prior meetings.

She believes Eastern needs to train more education majors and add CTE programs. The College of Agriculture wants Eastern’s programs and the community wants short-term programs like computer coding, IT, electrical, etc.

Bringing more international students to campus is a great idea because they get a screaming deal on tuition at USU Eastern, she said. “It is my hope that they go back to their countries and bring back more students.”

She liked the idea of faculty serving on Logan committees. Eastern’s merger was not a true merger. Logan did not embrace Eastern and it slowed down the engagement, support and collaboration of the schools. We must celebrate Price and what it offers to students.

Enrollment was discussed and the lack of growth at Eastern. She showed a chart that the enrollment from students in Carbon and Emery counties follows the pattern of the economy of the two counties. “When economic times are not as good, enrollment goes down.” Getting recruitment back on track will take time. We need to trump all the great things that Eastern is doing.

She said the enrollment offices in Logan need to refocus and do a better job of getting more students to attend Eastern.

New programs were discussed including bringing in a biology major for pre-medical students. John Weber, Ph.D., described his Rural Health Program and said half of his students would stay a third year if Eastern offered a biology degree. Tyson Chappell, Ph.D., agreed and said Eastern could offer all the classes needed for the biology degree but Logan administrators will not allow it. Other bachelor degrees possible were communication studies and liberal arts majors.

The welding department discussed having a four-year program instead of sending its upper classmen to Weber to finish their degrees. She said it all depends on how many students can be recruited to the program. She said technical area is where the workforce is needed.

Concerning the alumni association, she was proud that the 80th anniversary was celebrated. This is a huge issue and we should never not focus on the history of CEU and Carbon College. We need to build some fences and find out who we are and what direction we want to go.

Cockett plans to continue her conversations in fall 2018.

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