Thunderground's Editor-in-Chief sat down with Provost Brad Cook to discuss his role in the movie "Footloose," the Festival of Excellence and changes to academics at SUU. Below area few of the questions.
What was it like filming Footloose?
We were kind of milling around on the first day of shooting, and we didn’t even know what the movie name was at that point. We were waiting to get directions, and that kid from the psychology class comes out, and the more I watched him, the more I realized he was more and more of a central feature of whatever movie we’re doing. Turns out, it was Kevin Bacon. (In the movie, his character) comes from some city and moves to a backwater, super religious and conservative town with this backwater high school, and they picked Payson High School to film this thing. He wanted to understand what it would be like to be an outsider, so he spent two or three days going to class and being a high school student so he could play the part better. What was interesting about that movie is that we had no idea at the time of who these people were, and we didn’t realize what kind of a signature movie for our generation it was at the time. I do remember how friendly and approachable the actors were and how fun it was.
What inspired you to play football when you were younger?
My first experience with playing organized football was in Athens, Greece. I was born in Utah, but when I was 11, my parents moved us to Saudi Arabia, but on the way, we had a visa problem and got stuck in Athens. While we were waiting for our visa stuff to get worked out, I signed up for little league football at an American Airforce base, and fell in love with it. We finally got to Saudi Arabia and had the school year, and that summer, we came back to Utah. When we were on our way back to Saudi Arabia for the next school year, and a similar thing happened. We got back to Greece and I played another year of organized football. From then on, I was just really in love with the game and when we moved back to Utah, I was a sophomore. Athletics was kind of my way to fit in as an outsider at Payson High, and ended up getting a football scholarship at Stanford.
What was it like balancing athletics and academics at Stanford?
I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I remember my first semester there, calling home and saying ‘Mom, Dad, I don't think I can do this.’ To be a collegiate athlete, it’s almost a full-time job itself, and you have to be super disciplined. It was really challenging, but it was one of those things where once I went through it, I realized that that experience of being surrounded by really talented students just raised my performance.”
What inspired the Festival of Excellence?
I love this story. It started because we end up sending a lot of our faculty across the country and sometimes all over the world to present their ideas, yet we don’t even know about that on our own campus. I got thinking along with some other faculty that it would be great if we could just pause for one day and celebrate the incredible talents and gifts of our faculty and our students and even staff. We just dedicate one day in which we can get to know each other, the ways in which we celebrate and encourage each other… It’s a day in which we celebrate each other, ideas and creativity. We’re probably not that unique with campuses doing this, but we’ve had increasing numbers of presentations and poster sessions, and I think it’s what good universities should be doing. We should provide as many opportunities as we can, for students especially, to develop presentation skills. It’s one of my favorite days on campus.
Describe the digital badges that will be offered next fall?
They are a way in which a student can augment his or her degree with between nine and twelve credits. We’ve got six digital badges that we’re getting approved by the Board of Trustees, so students can get a badge in technical writing, social networking, entrepreneurship, data analytics — this is just the start of a lot of different badges. We’ve designed it such a way that students can get the badges within the 120 credits, so it’s not an add-on that will extend the time to graduation or cost more money. Often, employers aren’t sure what to do with a liberal arts degree, and to be able to have that badge or several badges will help these students. The research shows that with these stackable credits, it really increases the earning potential of these students.
Come back on Tuesday, April 2 for the full interview in the final edition of Revolt magazine.