President John C. Reynders

johnreyndersformalPresident John C. Reynders was named the 12th president of Morningside College in 1999. His 21-year tenure is the longest in the history of Morningside and has been a period of great transformation for the campus.

Reynders arrival came at a time when Morningside found itself at a crossroads. After years of deficit spending and declining enrollment, bold action was needed to ensure the college would be able to continue carrying out its mission.

Undaunted, Reynders quickly acted. He banded together with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the board of directors to develop a plan that focused on improving aging campus facilities to enhance the overall Morningside experience while making the college more attractive to prospective students and the community. 

Over the next 15 years, every single acre of campus would be remodeled and reoriented to place students at the center. More than $125 million was raised, with $70 million dedicated to new and renovated facilities.

As the campus transformed during that time, so did enrollment numbers. Undergraduate students grew from a low of 744 students in 2001 to 1,200 students in recent years. Additionally, graduate students grew from a few hundred in the early 2000s to regularly exceeding 1,500 students.

Perhaps most importantly, President Reynders and his wife, Robin, helped to usher in an era where words like home, welcoming, comfortable, and family would become synonymous with Morningside. Their open-door policy, regular attendance at college events, dinners at their home for all first-year students during fall semester, regular hosting of meetings and events in their home, and the strong relationships they created both inside and outside of Morningside helped build a stronger campus community.

This sense of community also helped to build a culture of pride in Morningside that continues to permeate the campus today. President Reynders emboldened the campus to strive for excellence in all things. That drive for innovation and success has pushed the campus to reach new heights, from expanded academic programming, to more active learning and travel opportunities, to athletics and other student groups achieving national recognition.

Truly, under President John Reynders leadership, Morningside has become a place transformed.

Prior to Morningside

President Reynders came to Morningside from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., where he was vice president for administrative services and treasurer. He has experience at all levels of higher education, having also served at Allegheny as director and dean of enrollment planning and financial aid, special assistant to the provost, associate director of athletics, associate professor of physical education, instructor in mathematics and head men's basketball coach.

President Reynders holds a Master of Arts in education and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Allegheny. He and Robin share their sons: Mathew, Chuck, and Jeremy.


Career Highlights

  • Longest serving president in Morningside’s history, serving since 1999;
  • Led college from over $17 million structural deficit to 15 years of positive variances;
  • Increased full-time enrollment by 75% and graduate enrollment by 700%;
  • Raised more than $125 million over the last 20 years, with $70 million dedicated to new and renovated facilities;
  • Cultivated a board of directors that care passionately about the institution’s welfare and who have contributed more than 40% of total campaign giving;
  • Created a positive culture that led to Chronicle of Higher Education’s designation of Best Places to Work;
  • Implemented the Sharon Walker Faculty Excellence Awards, the Thompson Staff Excellence Awards, and the Yockey Assessment Awards to encourage the development of employee talent while also serving as an important recruitment and retention tool;
  • Supported the successful launch of expanded research opportunities, including the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) and the annual Palmer Research Symposium;
  • Oversaw the successful transition of Morningside athletics from NCAA Division II to the NAIA, including:
    • The addition of 12 varsity sports in 2000 to 28 sports in 2019;
    • NAIA Women’s Basketball National Champions four times;
    • NAIA Football National Champions two times;
    • Recipient of the Great Plains Athletic Conference All-Sports trophy six of the last nine years;
    • Dozens of individual national championship placings, as well as national recognition for academic performance and character programs;
  • Retooled the performing arts to be an integral part of the college experience;
  • Dramatically expanded opportunities for students to study abroad:
    • Created a May Term requirement for national and international study with Morningside faculty;
    • Expanded exchange opportunities;
    • Increased the annual number of students participating in study abroad from less than 10 to more than 150;
  • Oversaw the launch of the Col. Bud Day Center for Civic Engagement, the Connie Wimer Women’s Leadership Program, Project Siouxland, and numerous other enrichment opportunities for students that encourage active learning and engagement;
  • Led academic and programmatic prioritization process, resulting in $2.7 million in annual savings;
  • Successfully launched college’s first online degree completion program;
  • Successfully launched Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and the college’s first-ever doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Successfully launched new academic programs:
    • Applied Agriculture and Food Studies;
    • Criminal Justice


Contact the President's Office

Our doors are always open to students. President Reynders' office is located in Lewis Hall 118. If you’re not on Morningside's campus, simply give us a call at (712) 274-5100.