USU President Noelle E. Cockett

Noelle E. Cockett was appointed as Utah State University’s 16th president in October 2016, beginning her official tenure in January 2017.

At the time of the announcement, Cockett was serving as executive vice president and provost at USU and had held that position since 2013. Prior to that, she served USU as vice president for Extension from 2006 to 2013; dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences from 2002 to 2013; and director of the Utah Agriculture Experiment Station from 2009 to 2013.

Since becoming president, Cockett has prioritized diversity and inclusion and led USU in efforts to create the Latinx Cultural Center; develop the annual Inclusive Excellence Symposium; expand staffing, funds, and gathering space for the USU Inclusion Center; create the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research; provide additional space and resources to the Veterans Resource Center; double the staffing of the Office of Equity, and expand the impact of the Aggies Think Care Act Initiative.

She also formed a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in 2019, whose recommendations included the addition of a cabinet-level leader for diversity and inclusion. USU welcomed its inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion in 2022.

Cockett has built a distinguished career in sheep genomics research, maintaining an active research program while serving in leadership positions at USU. Her research program has centered on the identification of genetic markers associated with economically important traits in sheep, as well as the development of resources that advance research on the sheep genome. Cockett has served as the United States coordinator for sheep genome mapping since 1993 and is an active member of the International Sheep Genomics Consortium.

Since June 2020, Cockett has chaired the Gene Editing in Agriculture Task Force, which was convened by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). In 2021, the task force recommended federal regulations around gene-edited animals be updated significantly.

As a researcher, Cockett has received many awards and accolades, including a Young Scientist Award from the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology (2004 and 2015), and one of USU’s top honors, the D. Wynne Thorne Research Award.

After receiving her master’s and doctorate in animal breeding and genetics from Oregon State University, Cockett spent five years as a research geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. She joined USU in 1990 as a researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

Cockett grew up on a beef cattle ranch in eastern Montana and is married to John Cockett, AVP of Central Development in University Advancement and director of technology in USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Noelle and John have two children, Dylan and Chantelle.