Leaders laud her ‘inspiring’ record of service, including for occupational and environmental health and safety

By Bubba Brown


From left: Weber State Provost Ravi Krovi, RMCOEH Advisory Board Chair Dennis Lloyd, former state Sen. Karen Mayne, and RMCOEH Director Kurt Hegmann during a ceremony at Weber State in which Mayne was given an honorary doctorate degree. Photo credit: Benjamin Zack/Weber State University

During the course of a political career that left an enormous impact on Utahns and drew the admiration of colleagues of both parties, former Sen. Karen Mayne racked up accolades too numerous to count.

She can add two more to the list: Mayne, who announced her retirement from the Utah Legislature early this year, was honored in March by the University of Utah and Weber State University for her contributions on Capitol Hill, where she championed education and occupational and environmental health and safety, among many other causes.

The University of Utah bestowed the title of Honorary Alumna on Mayne, while Weber State University awarded her an honorary doctorate degree. Both ceremonies were attended by influential figures who were eager to take the opportunity to fete the former senator, including the presidents of the universities and legislative leaders.

In an interview in April, Mayne said the recognition was gratifying and that the honors spotlight not just her work but that of her fellow legislators, as well as the importance of the problems they sought to tackle.

“What I feel is that the ceremonies elevate the work of my colleagues and me — mostly my colleagues — and elevate the issues and the solutions that we’ve created,” she said. “And that’s what makes me happy.”

At Weber State’s event, university President Brad Mortensen expressed gratitude for the example Mayne set, telling her she’s done “more than you know” for the school, its students, and the community.

“Your influence just has been one that will always be inspiring to me because it was always people over the politics,” he said. “That gets lost sometimes. … The good you’ve done through that is exemplary (and something) for all of us to remember no matter whether we’re in an elected position or not.”

University of Utah President Taylor Randall, meanwhile, noted the title of Honorary Alumna is a rare distinction — and one that befits someone with Mayne’s record of service.

“Thank you for all that you have done for our state,” he said.

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson, both Republicans, also praised Mayne, despite sitting across the political aisle from her. Each spoke at the University of Utah’s ceremony, and their affection and admiration for Mayne, who before her retirement served as the Senate Minority Leader, was apparent as they spoke.

Adams told her, “We want you to know how much we love you,” adding that “when you’ve told me what we needed to do … you were always spot on.”

Wilson lauded Mayne’s innate “ability to understand people, where they are coming from, what they are about, and (to) have empathy for others.”

“Sen. Mayne’s contributions to the state are of a remarkable leader, friend, and colleague,” he said.

Mayne also spoke at the events, emphasizing that problems are solved by people with different opinions coming together for a common purpose and that the role of institutions such as Weber State and the University of Utah is to serve students rather than the other way around.

In closing her remarks at Weber State, she left the audience with the philosophy that underpins both of those ideals and that defined her career as a public servant.

“We don’t look down,” she said, “we lift (people) up.” 

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