View the virtual ceremony hosted by the NAIA that honored President Reynders and others. President Reynders’ award begins at 46:00. 

President John Reynders named to NAIA Hall of Fame

Sioux City, Iowa – This week, Morningside President John Reynders became the fourth Morningside University inductee to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame, receiving the honor for Meritorious Service.

“President Reynders puts students at the center of every decision he makes, and his work with athletics is no exception,” said Vice President for Student Life & Enrollment Terri Curry. “His vision for Morningside Athletics has completely transformed athletics, our campus, and the student experience, and it makes him truly deserving of this honor.”

Previous Morningside inductees into the NAIA Hall of Fame include former student-athlete and Major League Baseball pitcher Paul Splittorff; former baseball coach Don Protexter; and former men’s basketball coach A.W. Buckingham

Reynders work in athletics has been a catalyst for much success within the Morningside program. He oversaw the successful transition of Morningside athletics from NCAA Division II to the NAIA, which resulted in the college going from 12 teams in 2000 to 28 sports in 2019. During that time, the Mustangs have claimed four NAIA women’s basketball national championships, two NAIA football national titles, were awarded the Great Plains Athletic Conference All-Sports trophy seven of the last 10 years and earned dozens of individual national championship placings, as well as national recognition for academic performance and character programs.

Reynders has served the national association on multiple levels. He’s been chair of the NAIA Council of Presidents and a Council of Presidents’ chair-elect while being a member of the Council of Presidents’ Executive Committee. He has held roles with the Growth Advisory Panel; Drug Testing & Education Committee; Membership Committee; Football Championship Task Force; Eligibility Task Force; and has been an advisor to the Competitive Experience Committee.

Reynders was named the 12th president of Morningside University in 1999. His 21-year tenure is the longest in the history of Morningside and has been a period of significant transformation on 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 1,329 in 2016, and graduate students have exceeded the population of undergraduate students every year since 2013, giving Morningside a total enrollment of more than 2,400 students.