Originally published in Summer 2016
It’s not hard to tell that Dr. Burnie Reynolds ’70 (History) and Professor Andy Reynolds ’09 (Social Work) are father and son. They share the same smile, the same self-effacing humor and assuredly the same deep love for teaching at Asbury University.
What may not be quickly apparent, though, is the breadth of their family history at Asbury. Burnie’s father, Custer Reynolds, was an administrator and professor at Asbury from 1959 to 1980. Combined, the Reynolds’ service at Asbury spans 57 consecutive years. In that time, campus has grown and changed, but one thing has stayed the same — Asbury University is part of the family.
The Reynolds’ journey to Asbury began in a town named Florida, in Northwest Ohio, where Custer served as a school principal. He was converted during an evangelistic meeting led by Asbury alumnus Ford Philpot ’50, and the entire trajectory of his life changed.
“Ford told him. ‘You’ve got to go to Asbury Seminary,’” said Burnie. “So he came to Wilmore, and while he was here, he met President Z.T. Johnson, who offered him a job in the Department of Education at Asbury University.”
Custer joined the Department of Education in 1959, and until 1980 he served Asbury in various roles as a professor, academic dean and head of the Department of Education. For all his service, though, Custer’s most enduring contributions to Asbury might well be his son. Burnie has taught in Asbury’s History Department for 42 years — a career twice as long as his father’s — and has been a life-changing mentor, scholar and friend.
Burnie was 10 years old when the family moved to campus, and it didn’t take him long to “start hanging around campus,” meeting new friends and surreptitiously shooting hoops in the Doddridge-Holland gym. Eventually, he enrolled at Asbury for his undergraduate degree.
“Boy, am I glad I did,” Burnie said. “Asbury is where I met my wife, and we’ve been married 46 years. It’s also where I decided the Middle Ages sounded interesting. Asbury formed my idea of professional identity and developed my aspirations. A lot of people said then what they still say now — ‘There are no jobs in history!’ But if the Lord wants you to do something, He’ll make the way.”
Next in Line
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Andy completed his MSW at Asbury and joined the Social Work faculty in 2013.
“I feel so much gratitude just walking around the Asbury University campus,” Andy said. “I had a tremendous time during my undergraduate work and completing my Master of Social Work here. One thing I always emphasize to my students is how unique this community is. It allows for so much personal growth.”
“Asbury was crucial in forming my identity,” he continued. “I mean that in the larger sense — who I am, what I can bring to the world, what I can do for Christ? My classes, Chapel, friends and mentors all posed questions I needed to ask myself during that time.”
Burnie says the Reynolds-Asbury relationship is not rooted primarily in family tradition. It’s a personal calling.
“Why is Asbury such an enduring part of our family?” he said. “The Lord called me here. It’s just home.”