The 2020 New Year arrived holding the promise of a fresh start and a new decade filled with opportunities to renew goals and build on what Utah State University does best – teaching, research and service. No one could have predicted how it would unfold. By March, the COVID-19 pandemic brought USU and its bustling campus life to a “virtual” standstill, as community and employees were faced with the question: “How do we continue to provide quality education while protecting the health and wellness of our students?”

However, in true Aggie fashion, progress went undeterred. Educators, administrators and students alike accepted the challenges with both resiliency and resolve. Online learning was adapted to and embraced by the student body, as terms like social distancing entered the vernacular. And as the university looks toward 2021, it will continue to adapt and evolve, no matter the challenge.

A Year of Accolades, Anniversaries and Accomplishments


public university in the nation for contributions to the public good in “2020 National University Rankings” by Washington Monthly.


Utah State University recognized the 25th anniversary of USU Online and was named as Utah’s #1 online university by the Utah Legislature.

Utah State University Moab’s new academic building broke ground in November allowing for further expansion of educational offerings in the region.

USU received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, reflecting the university’s “exemplary institutionalized practices” for community engagement at all 33 campuses and centers.


The Val R. Christensen Service Center, Utah State’s student-led service organization, celebrated 50 years of service and community involvement.

USU joined Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty, a cohort of 19 universities in a three-year institutional change effort to develop inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring and retention practices.

industry scenery
Air quality expert and USU Uintah Basin faculty Seth Lyman was awarded the Clean Air Person of the Year by the Utah Clean Air Partnership for his continued work of developing solutions to fight Utah’s air pollution problems in the Uintah Basin. Along with conducting research to understand which chemicals and conditions are needed to create wintertime ozone, Lyman and coworkers have developed a wintertime ozone forecast program that alerts the public of an ozone event and allows companies to put off certain actions that exacerbate bad air, without harming the Uintah Basin’s oil extraction industry.
research week
Undergraduate researchers gathered on campus as USU hosted the 14th annual Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research in February. The conference, representing all higher education institutions in Utah, hosted a record-breaking 650 attendees.
James Mattis
Former Secretary of Defense and retired four-star Marine Corps General James Mattis spoke to a packed audience in February as a guest of the newly founded Center for Anticipatory Intelligence. Housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the center focuses on emergent security challenges deriving from advancing technology.
Michael Levin
As the need for mental health services has increased in recent years, students at all USU campuses were provided free access to the ACT Guide, an online program to foster emotional well-being.

Michael Levin, the lead ACT researcher in USU’s Department of Psychology, says the online tool is centered on acceptance and commitment therapy where students can learn at their own pace and in the privacy of their own home.