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Cecil Reynolds '75

October 4, 2016

Cecil Reynolds ’75 had two desires as a youth – to attend the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and to play professional baseball. In the summer of 1969, he had to choose between his two passions: He earned a presidential appointment to the Naval Academy and was drafted by the Mets.

Two weeks before Reynolds was to report for duty at Annapolis, he withdrew from the Naval Academy and signed with the Mets. After four years toiling in the minor leagues and making several all-star teams, Reynolds suffered a career-ending injury the year of his first major league contract, which set him on a new career path – research and child development. 

It was a psychology course at UNCW that sparked his interest in the field, he recalled.

“Robert Brown taught that course and just really got me headed in the direction of some form of psychology related to children and their development,” he said. “He got me excited about psychology as a science and wanting to be a scientist.”

Today, Reynolds is a leader in the fields of school and educational psychology. He is a distinguished research scholar, and professor emeritus of educational psychology and neuroscience at Texas A&M University. He’s also the editor-in-chief of Archives of Scientific Psychology and associate editor of Journal of Pediatric Neuropsychology. He is the author of more than 300 scholarly publications and author or editor of 55 books.

His research focuses on psychological and neuropsychological assessment with children. Reynolds’ research contributions include all aspects of psychological assessment ranging from assessment of memory, emotional and affective states and traits, to issues of cultural bias in testing.

“The challenges of research and problem-solving are constantly changing and finding ways to improve psychological services for children and youth and improving their lives generally has been the driving force of my research programs—what could be more rewarding than improving the life of a child?”

Reynolds was named the 1984 UNCW Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and a 1998 UNCW Razor Walker Award recipient for his contributions to the field. In an effort to help future researchers pursue their passion, Reynolds endowed a scholarship honoring psychology professor Robert Brown, whom he described as an excellent teacher, mentor and lifelong friend. Brown retired in May 2006 after 32 years at UNCW.

“His personal support during my time as a student at UNCW was important in most aspects of my life at that point, and he has continued to be a role model to me as a professor, as a scientist and as a colleague in several writing and related scientific projects over the years,” Reynolds shared.

The scholarship funds a psychology student who is presenting as first author at a scientific meeting. Reynolds’ desire to give back was sparked by his parents, whom he said were dedicated to service. He and his wife, Julia, also recognize the role education can play in lifting families and society higher, he added.

“No one makes it alone. No matter how hard you work, no one makes it alone. We all have mentors, support, teachers we remember, or perhaps coaches and other key people in our lives—none of us made it totally on our own, and we feel we should recognize what others have done for us and give back,” said Reynolds. “We want to support opportunities for post-secondary and graduate education where and when we can. One of our hopes is that by modelling such support by giving back and not just talking about it, others will be inspired to give back as well. Giving back creates a rising tide, and it is true, a rising tide lifts all boats.”

--Venita Jenkins