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Utah State University provost Ray Coward, a scholar of child development and key figure in the university's recent evolution, will retire next year.

Vice president for extension Noelle Cockett will succeed him July 1, according to an announcement President Stan Albrecht sent to faculty Tuesday.

Coward arrived in Logan almost seven years ago from Pennsylvania State University, where he was dean of the College of Health and Human Development, to serve as Albrecht's chief deputy.

The one-time biology teacher left a big imprint during his tenure, the president wrote in his announcement.

"He has been an advocate for and a central player in creating the administrative structure and the necessary policies to support the current state-wide system, including the successful integration of USU Eastern campuses in Price and Blanding into the USU system," Albrecht said. "Together with the deans, he was instrumental in creating the 'New Faculty Academy' and enhancing the preparation of our new faculty to continue our record of excellence in the classroom."

Cockett, an animal geneticist who joined the faculty in 1990 and rose through the ranks to agriculture dean, has served in several administrative posts, including interim provost, vice provost for academic affairs and interim dean of the Graduate School.

"Her broad range of experience makes her particularly well-prepared to assume this new assignment," Albrecht wrote. "Additionally, her extended service and many accomplishments have earned her the support and respect of students, faculty, staff, and fellow administrators, as well as strong support throughout the state."

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