In 1986 the Wake Forest faculty took action to create the Jon Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching in honor of the life and work of Dr. Jon Reinhardt, a professor in the Politics Department. The award is designated as a memorial to “the countless hours of personal contact that he had with students, his ability to remain a student in spirit and in fact and his unique and captivating teaching style.”
Dr. Reinhardt was born in Thorsby, Alabama, in 1936. After studying engineering and industrial design at Auburn University, he earned a BA in English from Birmingham Southern College. His MA and PhD degrees were both earned at Tulane University. He then went to work at Wake Forest in the Politics (now Political Science) Department, where he remained as a teacher-scholar until his death in 1984. While at Wake Forest, Dr. Reinhardt received many accolades and appointments. He was the first recipient of the Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1971 and also served as the first coordinator of International Studies at Wake Forest. He was a member of many University committees, including Student Life, Athletics and Library Film, and in 1978 he directed Casa Artom, Wake Forest’s house in Venice.
As a devoted teacher, Dr. Reinhardt’s legacy lives on in the lives of his students and in his namesake award. A former student has noted, “In my time at Wake Forest, I did not encounter another professor who brought as much enthusiasm to his courses as Dr. Reinhardt. He often used the quote: ‘Every day, in every way, getting better and better’ to push his students to think and explore beyond the course materials.” Another student has said, “The teacher in [Dr. Reinhardt] wanted us to enjoy learning, to be curious and to be relentless in our quest for knowledge. The humanity in him gave each of us a taste of his compassion for his fellow students.”
A memorial resolution of the Wake Forest College faculty reads in part:
“…[Dr. Reinhardt] gave to his students an extraordinary sense of affirmation. He was, in the words of one student, ‘a sort of promise of what can be good and right in men and women.’ He could grasp the implications of political powers and principalities and remain, nevertheless, enthusiastic, youthful and alert to the wonder of being human. His students knew that, in spite of their flaws and shortcomings, they counted, in his eyes, for something important and worthwhile. He taught the bold and the shy, and the bright and the slow, and he valued them all. Jon was successful as a teacher in part because he remained, forever, a student himself.”
Special thanks to Dr. Jack Fleer for his assistance in compiling this information.