As told by Kate Nash
Scott Cooksey is a Texas native serving as the vice president for development and alumni relations at UVU. After moving to Provo, he quickly learned the terms “ward” and “stake.” And when locals here talk about windy weather, Scott has figured out they are referring to a “gentle breeze.”
I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and went to Texas Tech University. After I graduated, I went into retail as a department store buyer. I met my wife, Cindy, through work and we ended up moving to San Antonio, Dallas and Atlanta for different positions in the retail industry.
After working in retail for a while, I decided to take a job in Atlanta doing fundraising for a children’s home. The home was for children who were temporarily separated from their parents, and there was no shortage of motivation to work hard for those kids.
The next phase of my career was back at Texas Tech — I loved working at my alma mater. I started as the director of development for the agricultural department. Then I moved into management, and eventually I was charge of all the fundraising and donations to Texas Tech.
While it was a huge job with many different budgets to manage, one experience helped me put it all in perspective. A young woman’s scholarship application ended up on my desk by accident. Her family’s income level was very low and without a scholarship to help pay for her housing, she would have to drive 80 miles each day to get to class. It helped me realize the donations we brought into the school really did change people’s lives.
One of the biggest things my career has helped me overcome is a fear of public speaking. I remember taking a speech class in college and being terrified. But we were forced to speak every week and it got easier. These days, I can go to a meeting and speak in front of 20 people or 2,000 people without notes.
After 19 years at Texas Tech, I said to myself, “Ok, what is next?” Then Utah Valley University found me when a recruiter contacted me. I didn’t know much about Utah, but I had a friend at Utah State University who told me it was a great place to live. And this Matt Holland guy seemed like he would be great to work for.
So we did it! My wife was able to get an early retirement from her teaching career, and we moved to Provo. I specifically wanted to live in Utah County instead of commuting from Salt Lake. I want to be a part of the community I serve. I am currently serving as the Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at UVU.
I love the mountains in Utah, the arts (especially Hale Center Theater) and downtown Provo restaurants.
One of the only bad things about my job is that I eat out quite a bit, and it shows on my waistline!
While my wife and I are not LDS, I love that there is a church on every corner and strong family values here. That is very similar to where we are from in Texas. We are Christian and enjoy attending the CenterPoint church in Orem.
Working in alumni relations and fundraising for a school like UVU is unique. Most people feel allegiance to the school where they received their bachelor’s degree.
Because UVU used to be a junior college, most people went to school here for a couple years and then finished their degree somewhere else. In fact, most of our major donors didn’t even go to school here, which shows how committed they are to elevating UVU.
My two married children and my grandchildren live in Texas, but we are really enjoying our time here in Utah.