Tiffiany Frandsen | Deputy Managing Editor | @tiffanymf
Utahns gathered to memorialize Becky Lockhart’s life at the Utah State Capitol building on Thursday, Jan. 22. Former Utah House Speaker Lockhart, the first female to hold the position, died on Saturday, Jan. 17 from a brain disorder, Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.
To honor all of the work Lockhart did for UVU, a scholarship has been set up in her name, the Rebecca D. Lockhart Endowed Scholarship, specifically meant to be used for students at the Center for Constitutional Studies. She had spoken at the center multiple times.
“The state of Utah has lost one of its great leaders and public servants in the prime of her life. We, as a university, have lost one of our staunchest champions. I, like so many, have lost a dear friend. Most importantly, the Lockhart family has lost a remarkable mother and spouse, and my thoughts and prayers remain with Stan and the entire Lockhart family,” said UVU President Matthew S. Holland in a press release.
She had worked with then-Senator (now Utah Tax Commission Chair) John L. Valentine (R-Orem) on the bill that took the school from being Utah Valley State College to Utah Valley University in 2007.
“Becky was a major player in the development for the University, was a strong advocate long before she became speaker, when she served as the transportation chair, a position that was in no way related to or had specific responsibility for education, she attached herself to the cause of then-UVSC and made it her baby. She grasped on the concept that UVSC should and would become a full-fledged university, she never lost that vision,” said Valentine.
She joined the equity fight that resulted in $21 million that were directed to UVU.
“She has been a warrior on equity funding for many years. No one can underestimate the influence the Speaker yielded on this issue,” said Val Hale, who had been serving as president of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce (and is now the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development), in a blog post on the Daily Herald in March 2014.
In 2013, had been a leader in appropriating $54 million for the new classroom building on campus.
“She was a champion for that building, she played a major part in securing the funding for it in 2013, and I’m very grateful for her leadership and her enthusiasm, which was absolutely key as we went into final budget negotiations that year, and thank her for her tremendous force of effectiveness and good will in the House that made this building a possibility,” said Holland.
Starting in 2014, Lockhart and fellow politico Jennifer Seelig (D-Salt Lake) co-chaired the Women in the Economy Commission, with the mission to tackle the gender wage gap. They held a seminar at UVU in October and discussed ideas and theories with UVU students and faculty.
Later that month, she also participated in UVU’s Utah Women & Leadership Project Talk Like a Girl series. She talked about the different adjectives that were used to describe her versus her male counterparts and encouraged women to speak up.
“Using your real voice might make you uncomfortable. It might make the people around you feel uncomfortable, but until we make it normal for women to be heard, until we are heard for our ideas and not viewed as tokens, that’s the price we’ll pay,” said Lockhart. “I, for one, have been willing to pay that price.”
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf