In 1962 the trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation created a scholarship program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (then the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina) to honor Katharine Smith Reynolds – philanthropist, devoted alumna and mother of Z. Smith Reynolds. The first scholarships were awarded to women in their freshman year in 1963-1964, the same year that the Women’s College became co-educational and the name was changed to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The first class of scholars graduated in 1967. In 1980, the scholarship expanded to include male students, effective for the 1981-1982 academic year. Since the scholarship was founded, more than 500 Katharine Smith Reynolds Scholars have graduated from UNCG.
The original Katharine Smith Reynolds scholars cohort, class of 1967: Melanie Spruill Blakely, Susan Prince Watson, Jane Taylor Brookshire, Judy Davis Wall, Shelby Rice Sperr, Rosalyn Fleming Lomax, Sandra Cheek Nottingham, Dorothy Jane Crowder, Evelyn Johnson Stephenson, Martha Bridges Sharma, Anne Presnell, Willine Carr. Not pictured: Nancy Holman Smith, Evelyn Brake Weems (see image)
Traditionally, Reynolds Scholars were given a gold fox-shaped brooch, with ruby eyes. This brooch had Katharine Smith Reynolds’ monogram inscribed on the back, as well as the initials of the scholar receiving the brooch. This tradition fell out of practice over the years, but returned in 2019. Current and future Reynolds Scholars receive their own fox pin to showcase their pride in being a Katharine Smith Reynolds Scholar.
Learn more about the Reynolds Scholars and the Honors College from these videos produced by class of 2018 Reynolds Scholar Sara Seyler!
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has a simple motto: “Service.” No one better exemplified it than Katharine Smith Reynolds. A student of the State Normal and Industrial College (later UNCG), in 1897, Katharine was unable to finish her education due to a typhoid epidemic. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia.
North Carolina was her home, however, and upon her return, she dedicated her life to the betterment of others. Katharine convinced her husband, Richard J. (R.J.) Reynolds, not only to shorten the work week at his company, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, but also to offer medical care, cafeterias, day care, and housing to his employees.
At their home, Reynolda, she established a model school for her own and her state staff’s children; when she learned that many of her staff could not read or write themselves, she established a night school specifically for them. She even purchased and renovated a hostel to become a boarding house for girls and women who came to the city to work, so that they would have a safe place to live and rest at the end of the day.
In her community of Winston-Salem, she founded the YWCA and the Junior League, and she made possible the construction of Reynolds High School and Reynolds Auditorium.
Katharine Smith Reynolds believed in helping others, by empowering through education and in cherishing others’ families as much as her own. The service she extended to her community continues to inspire UNCG’s students, especially those Reynolds Scholars who seek to live up to her name.
Learn more about Katharine Smith Reynolds, her family, and her home: