Each fall Brigham Young University designates a founder whose contributions helped shape the university. The 2006 honoree, Alice Louise Reynolds, was a gifted early 20th century teacher with a passion for creating a quality library.
The homecoming theme, "Lighter of Lamps," directly reflects her legacy.
With a passion for learning, the 12-year-old Reynolds entered Brigham Young Academy in 1886 and began a life-long relationship with her alma mater.
The young scholar first gathered her own light from master teacher Karl G. Maeser, and both his vision and that of BYA president Benjamin Cluff motivated her to study literature at the University of Michigan.
At 21 she gained a faculty position at BYU and quickly became a favorite instructor and mentor. Ralph A. Britsch, one of her students and later a BYU English professor, wrote, "She clearly believed that the chief functions of a teacher of literature are to illuminate and to stimulate — to imbue her students with a thirst for reading and to help them to explore, to understand and (in the best sense) to enjoy."
As the first woman at BYU to become a full professor, Reynolds "lit the lamps" of nearly 5,000 students in 20 different English courses during her 44-year career. She was so beloved that former students established an Alice Louise Reynolds club in her honor in 1933 that expanded to 16 chapters.
She was a founding member of the faculty library committee, serving as its chair for 19 years. Her determination led to major fund-raising drives and donations that yielded a library with 100,000 volumes at the time of her death. Today a 100-seat lecture hall in the Harold B. Lee Library bears her name.
In addition to her university duties, Reynolds was also an editor of the Relief Society Magazine for more than seven years and was a prominent member of various political, women's and professional organizations.
At her funeral in 1938, then-Elder George Albert Smith suggested she had "majored in blessing mankind," adding, "I think you will find no one who has contributed more unselfishly than Alice Louise Reynolds."
Writer: Charlene Winters