Brent Taylor degree

University of Utah officials on Thursday, May 2, 2019, posthumously awarded Brent Taylor, the former North Ogden mayor killed while serving in Afghanistan, with a doctorate in political science. Those on hand for the ceremony were, from left to right, Rick Forster, associate dean and professor in the Department of Geography; Jennie Taylor, Taylor's widow; Lincoln Taylor, one of the Taylors' sons; and Cynthia Berg, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science. Forster was holding a photo of Brent Taylor.

SALT LAKE CITY — Brent Taylor did not only make his mark serving the Utah Army National Guard and as mayor of North Ogden.

He was also an academic and had been studying for a doctorate in political science from the University of Utah when he was killed in November while serving in Afghanistan.

Accordingly, the University of Utah awarded him posthumously with a doctorate degree on Thursday and also announced creation of a scholarship in his name.

Taylor was in the process of completing his doctoral dissertation at the time of his death. He was focusing on international relations.

Granting of posthumous degrees is rare. Given the work he had already done, though, university officials are confident he was on his way to getting the degree, according to Mark Button, chairman of the University of Utah Political Science Department.

“Brent was dedicated to his academic pursuits and viewed education as a great investment in the future — not only in his personal future, but in the future of this great nation,” Jennie Taylor, his widow, said in a statement. She was on hand for Thursday’s ceremony, during the graduate student convocation for the university’s College of Social and Behavioral Science.

Brent Taylor had a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Utah.

The Brent Taylor Memorial Scholarship, meanwhile, will be for graduate students in the University of Utah’s Political Science Department. The aim, in part, is to keep Taylor’s name alive on the university campus, Button said.

It’s meant for those who show “evidence of or great promise for principled leadership,” the University of Utah said in a statement. “Scholarship recipients will be students who exhibit a strong sense of duty to serve others and who have a commitment to make a positive difference in the world.”

With the scholarship, Jennie Taylor said her husband’s public service can now “be an inspiration to future political science students at this great university.” More than $5,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund, and university officials seek more.

In March, President Donald Trump inked a bill naming a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility in North Ogden in Brent Taylor’s honor. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally mark the change “is upcoming,” according to the office of U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.

Taylor had been on leave as North Ogden mayor when he was killed in November while nearing the end of a year-long military deployment in Afghanistan. A member of the Afghan special forces group he was helping train turned on him and attacked him, according to officials.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at

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