IRA gift ensures professor's good work lives on
Daniel Reynolds visits with students
Daniel Reynolds was known by many as an expert in ethics, a brilliant lawyer, scholar and exceptional teacher. He was also known for his wit, humor, breadth of knowledge, and for his love of the legal profession.
Generations of law students at Northern Illinois University knew Daniel Reynolds as their beloved teacher, a man instrumental in their development as scholars, practitioners, and global citizens.
Professor Reynolds committed 35 years of his career to NIU students. He ensured his legacy of supporting them will continue through an unrestricted estate gift to the College of Law.
This gift will provide funding for the college’s highest priorities, recruitment scholarships, a cause that would resonate with the lifelong educator and student advocate.
“In many ways, Dan was the heart and soul of our school,” says Mark Cordes, Interim Dean of the NIU College of Law. “Dan was not only a great teacher, but also a respected mentor to hundreds of students and alumni.”
“He enjoyed his work and made the burdens of law school light,” said Peter Murphy, ’89 J.D., of Palos Heights who currently practices municipal law as an outside counsel and consultant. “He was one of my favorite professors.”
Reynolds’ students remember him as “always approachable” and enjoyed his “razor-sharp intellect” and “relaxed and humorous style.” These qualities led them to vote Reynolds “Professor of the Year” an unprecedented six times.
Raising the Bar for NIU students
Reynolds joined the College of Law faculty in 1982 and stayed until his retirement in November 2015. He taught a variety of subjects including contracts, professional responsibility, corporations, and legal history. He also served a stint as interim dean in the 1990s.
As an expert in the area of legal ethics, Reynolds was the assistant reporter to the American Bar Association’s “Kutak Commission,” which drafted the new code of ethics for American lawyers: The Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
In addition, he, along with Professor Emeritus David Gaebler, led the school's successful study abroad program in Agen, France for almost 20 years.
Recent graduate Sandy Gallant-Jones, ’17 J.D., of Peoria who took part in Professor Reynolds’ last study abroad class in 2016 said, “His love for Agen, French culture, and most of all the study of law inspired so many students. Professor Reynolds’ legacy in law, justice, and ethics will continue for years to come through his students, colleagues, and friends.”
“His impact on the lives of NIU graduates cannot be overstated, nor can his contribution to the college,” adds Cordes.
Many members of Reynolds’ extended family left heartfelt messages on his obituary page, including Bill Peters, ’90 J.D., a former student who now works in New York: “You’ve cast your pebbles into the pond… the ripples go on and on,” he says.
Scholarships awarded in Dan’s name will make sure the ripples of his good work will continue to emanate, amplified by the good work of generations of students whose lives he helped shape.
A scholarship fund has been created in Dan’s name at the College of Law. If you would like to contribute, please contact Judy M. Schneider at the NIU Foundation, 815-753-1389.
Reynolds was known for sharing life-changing advice. Students came to know them as “Reynolds-isms.” Here are a few:
“Question where you are now, where you are going to be in five years. Question why that old kook Reynolds is still teaching at the law school. Question, question, question, and maybe someday you will find some answers. I hope so. Any questions?”
“You don't have to pick a life off the shelf. You can assemble one out of all of the segments of this world that give you meaning. And if other people don't like the unconventional life you have made, $@&*! ’em.”
“I’m not very good at giving advice, I am worse at following it. But if I had to give advice, I’d suppose I’d go back to Horace’s carpe diem—seize the day—because you all have an incredible resource, and I’m kind of envious of this, which is time. But it is a depleting resource. And believe me. Trust me. You’re going to be shocked and awed someday at how fast the past 40 years went. So, I hope you just grab every day of every year and just love it to death… And don't smoke.”
Law student’s 6-year-old child: “I don’t want to be in law school.”
Professor Reynolds: “I have a secret—I don’t either. I want to be a fireman.”