University Affairs

President Cantwell: Embracing a New Chapter in Our University's History

The following message from USU President Elizabeth R. Cantwell was emailed to university students, staff and faculty on June 18, 2024.

Dear Aggie Community,

Today, I am excited to share news about an organizational leadership restructuring of Utah State University’s Academic Enterprise. This restructuring is being made pursuant to a design process started many months ago, and it has been adapted to include changes made to comply with the new Utah law HB261: Equal Opportunity Initiatives.

Restructure of USU’s Academic Enterprise

To ensure USU is positioned for long-term success — at the state, national and global level — a streamlining and reorganization of our academic administrative structure is essential.

This restructuring is not about mere change; it's about strategic transformation. Our focus is on optimizing leadership functions to enhance collaboration, communication, and decision-making across the university to support our students, faculty, and staff. Through this process, we aim to:

  1. Strengthen Leadership Effectiveness: We are redefining leadership roles to ensure that they are strategically aligned with our goals to drive academic excellence with acute attention to our students’ needs and laser focused on their success.
  2. Foster Innovation: By streamlining decision-making processes, we create room for innovation and agility, allowing us to adapt swiftly to the evolving and highly competitive higher education landscape.
  3. Enhance Operational Efficiency: This restructuring will simplify processes, reduce administrative burdens, and promote an agile university structure to ensure we are ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

With hearty congratulations, I am pleased to announce the following:

Dr. Laurens (Larry) H. Smith now has full oversight of the student enterprise (graduate and undergraduate and including student success, student affairs, and strategic enrollment management), faculty matters and academic units, a re-envisioned Statewide enterprise (Cooperative Extension and Statewide academic matters), and USU online. Provost Smith will now serve as Provost and Executive Vice President of USU’s Academic Enterprise. With his able leadership and dedication, I have full confidence in Dr. Smith's ability to lead USU’s new Academic Enterprise for years to come.

This organizational restructuring brings with it some key leadership shifts. Today we announce the appointment of the following leaders, who bring their experience, a fresh perspective, and a genuine dedication to the future of USU and of Utah. The following will all report to Dr. Smith. Please help us welcome them to their new roles:

  • Janet Anderson has been named Vice President and Chief of Staff to the Provost and will also serve as Interim Vice President of Student Success.
  • Paul Barr has been named Executive Vice Provost managing Academic Affairs and all its associated activities.
  • Janis Boettinger will continue in her position as Senior Vice Provost.
  • Richard Cutler has been named Senior Vice Provost of the School of Graduate Studies.
  • Krystin Deschamps has been named Interim Vice President of Student Affairs.
  • Ryan Hobbs has been named Vice President of USU Online.
  • Fran Hopkin has been named Vice Provost and Registrar.
  • Harrison Kleiner has been named Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education.
  • Andi McCabe will continue as Assistant Provost.
  • Katie Jo North has been named Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management.
  • Ken White has been named Senior Vice President of the Statewide Enterprise.

USU will soon advertise for a Senior Vice President of Undergraduate Affairs in a national search.

Inclusive Excellence and Compliance with HB261

On Jan. 30, 2024, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill that significantly impacts diversity, equity, and inclusion in public institutions in the state: HB 261 Equal Opportunity Initiatives. This law takes effect on July 1, 2024.

In response to the new state law and in concert with our efforts to align operations and integrate programs and activities with our strategic goals, our university will make the following adaptations:

  • Jane Irungu has been appointed as special advisor to President Cantwell. With associated duties at the direction of the president, Dr. Irungu will advise and influence the university’s strategic planning and efforts to ensure that as we grow, USU will build and expand new programs in a way that expands access and opportunity for all members of our campus community.
  • The Inclusion Center’s programs will be reorganized and reassigned within the Academic Enterprise.
  • Student clubs previously housed in the Inclusion Center will be moved to Student Involvement and Leadership where they will be supported and operated consistent with the USUSA clubs and organizations’ policies and procedures.
  • The student support services offered by the Inclusion Center will be directed to central student support services, including the CARE Team and Academic Belonging and Learning Excellence.
  • Community building and cultural celebrations and education will be coordinated and supported by a new Center for the Study of Community under the executive vice president/provost. This center will build on USU’s long history of scholarship and research on the impact of practices that bridge USU knowledge/people with Utah communities, ensuring programs and activities that are rooted in the land-grant principles of pluralism are available to all.
  • The Latinx Cultural Center and proposed Native American Cultural Center will be reviewed and adjusted so that they are in full compliance with HB261 and the Utah System of Higher Education’s new policy on cultural centers.

More information about changes to DEI and USU’s compliance with the new state law are available at

Our university deeply appreciates all those who have dedicated their efforts toward supporting the student success of all Aggies. Our commitment to serving, supporting, and lifting all students, faculty, and staff remains the same as does our commitment to USU’s Principles of Community.

USU recognizes that for our campus community these are big changes.

In particular, the Inclusion Center has been a cornerstone for student support and engagement and has served as a vital welcoming space on our campus. This impact is a credit to the dedicated staff of the Inclusion Center and the tireless efforts of engaged students and employees across campus. As we make the changes to adjust our approach to student support and inclusive excellence, we will build on the foundation established by the Inclusion Center and carry forward a commitment to making sure USU is a space where everyone feels they belong and the success of all students is championed.

Embracing Change Together

Change is inevitable, and at Utah State University, we're ready to embrace it. We're committed to making USU an even better place for everyone, and this transition will help us achieve that goal.

We understand change can be challenging. That's why we're here to support you every step of the way. We'll provide resources, training programs, and open communication channels (town halls, one-on-one meetings, etc.) to address your questions and concerns. Whether you're a student, faculty, or staff member, we're in this together.

This might not be the last change we face, but as a resilient and dedicated land-grant university, we're confident in our ability to adapt and thrive. Let's embrace this opportunity to grow and continue serving the people and the state of Utah with unwavering focus.


Elizabeth R. Cantwell



Amanda DeRito
Associate VP of Strategic Communications
University Marketing and Communications


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