In Memoriam: Charles Harlan Reynolds

Charles Harlan Reynolds, professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Religious Studies, passed away January 25. He was 78.

A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 11, at the UT Visitors Center.

Reynolds joined the UT Department of Religious Studies in 1969. He served as head from 1980 to 2001.

“Charles Reynolds was our legendary quarterback for more than two decades. His game plan paid off and the department grew in strength and quality,” said Rosalind Hackett, current head of the Department of Religious Studies. “He brought vision, professionalism, creative networking, and financial and political savvy to the task, along with great mentoring and teaching, humor and affability, and sheer devotion to the department family. He also taught how to give back, serving after retirement on our board of visitors and generously contributing to the department’s 50th anniversary endowment fund.”

Reynolds studied at Birmingham Southern College, Southern Methodist University, and Harvard, where he completed his PhD in religious studies in 1968. After a year of teaching at Heidelberg and Oxford, he accepted a position with the UT Department of Religious Studies.

During his long career at UT, Reynolds established himself as an activist for justice, an acclaimed teacher, and a highly respected scholar. He helped define his field as the founding editor of the Journal of Religious Ethics. He was promoted to professor in 1978, a position he held until he retired as professor emeritus in 2009.

Reynolds was recognized as the university’s Macebearer—the highest honor given to a UT faculty member—in 1993–94.

In his later years, he served as a volunteer baseball and basketball coach. He also continued to enjoy his long-term hobbies of fishing, boating, and investing.

Reynolds’ survivors include his four children: Glenn (a UT law professor), Jonathan, Katharine, and Bradford; son-in-law Dean; daughters-in-law Helen, Ngozi, and Kelly; and grandchildren Joseph, Julia, Christopher, Jackson, William, Ojie, and Harrison.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, Reynolds’ family asks that donations be made to the Pat Summitt Foundation, East Tennessee Sexual Assault Center, or the Religious Studies Endowment Fund.