Each year WSU and the Alumni Society recognize individuals for their outstanding commitment to the university and to improving our world. WSU graduates or non-graduates who have voluntarily rendered significant contributions of time and talent to the university receive the Distinguished Service Award.
James R. Reynolds earned his bachelor’s degree in social science from Winona State University in 1967 and his master’s degree in sociology from the University of North Dakota in 1969. He began his career at Winona State in 1969 as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, and served the university in a variety of roles including Department Chairperson and Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts until he retired as Professor Emeritus of Sociology in 2004. Among his many achievements while at Winona State, he championed the accreditation of the Social Work program and the certification of the Criminal Justice Program.
Nancy Reynolds earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1966 and a master’s in 1970 in elementary education and reading, both from Winona State. She later earned a master’s degree in environmental education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1995. She taught for thirty years in the Winona Area Public School system, hosted many student teachers from Winona State, and also taught adjunct at Winona State and Saint Mary’s University.
Since their retirement, the Reynolds’ have given generously of their time, talent and treasure to projects that help make the university distinctive while providing meaningful educational opportunities for the community, alumni, retirees and students. Such projects include the Dr. Calvin R. Fremling Floating Interpretive Center & Classroom, the Land Stewardship project, and the initiative to establish the WSU Arboretum, the first of its kind on a state university campus. Nancy uses her expertise as a master gardener and tree care advisor to help identify and recommend native plants and trees for the campus and assist with projects such as the Tour of Trees and the Prairie Garden at the Integrated Wellness Complex. In 2005, Jim co-founded the WSU Retiree Center and served as the initial director. The Reynolds’ have also created endowed scholarships for undergraduate students in sociology and elementary education and have sponsored a small group study room in WSU’s Krueger Library. They are members of WSU’s 1858 Founders Society and the Medallion Society.