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President Cockett Initiates Independent Review of Music Department Concerns

Friday, Feb. 16, 2018

Utah State President Noelle Cockett

Utah State University President Noelle Cockett today (Feb. 16) told students, staff and faculty in the Music Department that the university is taking immediate action following social media posts raising serious concerns.

On Feb. 13, a former student disclosed on Facebook she was sexually assaulted in 2009 by an instructor in the piano program. Another former student also disclosed she and her husband had experienced harassment, discrimination and abuse while studying piano at USU. Both have said university administrators were not responsive to their concerns and did nothing to stop them from being harmed.

President Cockett started by saying she appreciated these former students coming forward, and was heartened by the outpouring of support the former students were receiving on social media.

She said the university has contracted an outside attorney, Alan Sullivan at Snell & Wilmer in Salt Lake City, to conduct an independent review of the disclosures.

“This will not just be a review of those specific concerns, but a review of how USU responded,” President Cockett said.

In order to protect the independence of the investigation, President Cockett has directed that the final report go directly to the chair of the USU Board of Trustees, Jody Burnett. She has also directed that the review be done thoroughly and quickly so USU can make needed changes.

“Our heart goes out to people who have had these unsafe and disturbing experiences. That’s a responsibility that I am taking on myself: to investigate, to understand and to create a better environment.”

If anyone has information they want to contribute to the investigation, USU asks them to file a report at or contact USU’s Title IX Coordinator directly:

Stacy Sturgeon

Those who are uncomfortable going to USU’s Title IX office can provide their name and contact information in the feedback form at, and it will be directed to the independent investigator.

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