Olympian and BYU professor Barbara Lockhart leaves legacy of hard work

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Kenny Crookston/BYU
BYU professor Barbara Lockhart will retire on Aug. 1 as a full-time exercise sciences teacher. Lockhart has taught at BYU for 25 years and competed as a speed skater in the 1960 and 1964 Winter Olympic Games. (Mark Philbrick, BYU Photo)

Renowned Olympian and BYU exercise sciences professor Barbara Lockhart will officially retire from her full-time teaching position on Aug. 1. She will assume the role of a part-time professor this fall semester.

During her tenure as a professor at BYU, Lockhart has taught courses on philosophy, the science of wellness, ontology (the nature of being) and religion.

Exercise Sciences department secretary Barb Hehl said Lockhart always makes others feel important.

“Every time you talk to her you can tell that she’s listening and interested,” Hehl said. “She remembers students that she’s had in class from 20 years ago, and some come back to visit because they know she cares. She is full of love and it spills out of her.”

BYU professor James LeCheminant has been both a student and colleague of Lockhart. He echoed the sentiments of Hehl.

“I’ve admired her professionalism, her kindness, her genuine interest in people, her wisdom and her friendship,” LeCheminant said. “I’ve also marveled that she has so many friends among the BYU community and also professional organizations.”‘

But teaching is not the only thing Lockhart enjoys. Outside – and inside – the office, Lockhart loves to watch and talk sports, especially when BYU is involved. She often comes into the office the morning following a BYU sporting event with the Cougars on her mind.

“Did you see the game last night?” she will eagerly ask, ready to chat with anyone who is interested.

Some of her favorites are football and basketball, though she definitely has a special place in her heart for ice skating. That’s because Lockhart was a member of the United States Olympic speed skating team.

During her senior year of high school, the International Olympic Committee decided to officially include women in the long track speed skating competition. Lockhart, who had received a pair of speed skates from her dad when she was 8-years-old, won the 500- meter race in the Olympic trials and became the first woman to qualify for the team. She then participated in the 1960 and 1964 Winter Olympic Games and also competed for the USA World Championship Speed Skating team in 1963 and 1964.

Lockhart began her teaching career in 1966 as a physical education teacher in Los Angeles after completing her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University.

Over the next 25 years, she filled a variety of other teaching positions, including positions at Temple University and the University of Iowa. She also obtained additional education during this time, earning a master’s degree from Michigan State in 1967 and a Doctorate of Education from BYU in 1971.

In 1991, Lockhart returned to BYU to teach. She’s been in Provo for the last 25 years and is currently serves as a professor for the Exercise Sciences Department and an assistant department chair. Lockhart said she has found great satisfaction in her experience as a professor.

“I love the Savior and the doctrines of the Gospel,” Lockhart said. “It is thrilling for me to be able to teach and testify to students who are receptive and want to learn by the Spirit.”

Lockhart is a convert to the LDS Church. When she was a young girl, Lockhart began an intense search for the truth, going to other churches and studying religious literature. By the time she got to college, Lockhart had determined that there was no church based on Christ’s authority.

However, during her third year at Michigan State, she met the missionaries and listened to their message. She felt that what they taught rang true and received a personal witness after fasting and prayer.

Carol Wilkinson, an associate professor of physical education at BYU, has worked with Lockhart for 21 years.

“During our work together, I have enjoyed deep discussions with (Lockhart) that are often infused with a spiritual approach,” Wilkinson said. “It’s been a truly uplifting, enlightening experience.”

Rachel Murdock, an exercise science major, said that Lockhart was the perfect example of what a professor should be, noting that she showed an interest in all of her students.

“She memorized everyone’s name in the class, and it wasn’t a small class,” Murdock said. “She was always willing to help the student, not work against them.”

Lockhart will continue to teach part-time at BYU during the fall semester. She said she is looking forward to having more time to serve in the church and do her family history following her retirement.

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