UVU awards the late Becky Lockhart with honorary degree at 2015 graduation

Utah Valley University held the 2015 commencement ceremony for 5,341 students Thursday night. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

Utah Valley University held the 2015 commencement ceremony for 5,341 students Thursday night. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

Utah Valley University celebrated its 5,341 graduates at Thursday evening’s commencement ceremony along with the late Becky Lockhart.

Lockhart, along with Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and humanitarian Pamela J. Atkinson, was awarded an honorary degree from UVU. Her daughter, Hannah Lockhart, accepted the degree in honor of her mother.

“We remain grateful for her example and dedication and we miss her passion,” said UVU President Matt Holland.

The late Becky Lockhart passed away from a rare neurodegenerative brain disorder, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in January. Lockhart was known as “Utah’s Iron Lady” after making history by becoming Utah’s first female Speaker of the House in 2010.


Graduation by the numbers:

  • Total Degrees: 5,341
  • Number of Graduates: 5,143
  • Graduates from Utah: 85.5%
  • From Other States: 12%
  • Foreign Countries: 7%


Helping UVU achieve university status in 2008 and then delegating $21 million to UVU in the 2014 legislative session for the “acute equity” initiative, Lockhart had a hand in UVU’s growth and success. Lockhart was awarded the UVU Honorary Doctorate of Law.

Describing Lockhart as a “tireless champion” for UVU, Trustee R. Duff Thompson said, “Utah Valley University can look at Becky Lockhart’s legacy as a example of excellence.”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the CEO of the global management consulting firm Bain & Company, but is best known around the country for his 2012 presidential run as the Republican candidate. In 1999, Romney served as president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olymics. Romney, the 2015 commencement keynote speaker, was awarded the UVU Honorary Doctorate of Business.

Steven J. Lund, chair of the UVU Board of Trustees, said Romney was chosen for the award based on his business success and integrity throughout his life.

Pamela J. Atkinson is known for spending over two decades advocating for the impoverished, underprivileged and homeless residents of Salt Lake. A member of the UVU National Presidential Advisory Board, Atkinson helped UVU achieve university status.

From serving on the Utah State Board of Education, the Utah State Board of Regents, and the board of the Utah College of Applied Technology, Atikinson has been a critical adviser to the University president and helped Gov. Gary Herbert as an adviser on policy, planning and strategy. Atkinson received the UVU Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

“She has served as a tireless for the states most vulnerable people,” said Elaine Dalton, UVU trustee.

Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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