Don represented Ashland University in so many ways and many generations of AU students can testify to his wisdom and compassion in the classroom. He and his wife, Jan, were described by many as the “quintessential AU faculty members.”
Don started teaching in the college’s Religion Department in the fall semester of 1969. He retired in 2007, but continued teaching sections of the class “Exploring the Bible.” In April of 2015, Don presented his final lecture titled “Last Lecture: The Beginning of Wisdom,” in front of a large crowd in Miller Chapel (You can watch the video here).
After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1959 from Ashland College, Don continued his education at Ashland Theological Seminary, where he earned both his Bachelor of Divinity (1965) and Master of Divinity (1970) degrees. He also held a Master of Education from the University of Arizona and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary.
Beginning his Ashland University teaching career in the religion department in 1969, Don went on to serve as religion department chair from 1975-79 and 1991-95, as Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities from 1980-88, and as a member of the President’s Cabinet from 1980-85.
As a tribute to him, the Rinehart Lectureship in Practical Theology endowment campaign was started when Don retired, and The Annual Rinehart Lecture in Practical Theology brings leading scholars in Practical Theology to Ashland’s campus to work with students and give a public lecture.
Don received numerous awards and honors from Ashland University through the years, including:
- Receiving an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities at the spring 2007 commencement ceremony.
- Serving as the 2012 winter commencement speaker. In his speech, titled “Moving from Success to Significance,” he told graduates they are well on their way to becoming “a person of success.”
- Receiving the Alumni Association’s Drushal Humanitarian Award in 1992 and he and Jan received the Alumni Association’s Dr. Glenn L. Clayton Award in 2004.
- Receiving the Eagle Forever Award at the Athletic Hall of Fame Brunch in 2012.
- Having the Office of Leadership Development and the Center for Community Service name the Dr. Donald Rinehart Honor and Integrity Award in his honor and present it annually to one who serves as a role model to students, faculty and staff.
- Earning the Mentor Award from the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee four times, in addition to being nominated for Faculty Member of the Year and Outstanding Mentor by student organizations at the Annual All Campus Leadership and Service Recognition Reception.
Don and Jan have three children: Melissa Hoffman, Melinda Ward and Todd Rinehart.
The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Donald and Janet Rinehart International Studies Endowment or the Rinehart Center for Religious Studies Endowment, both at Ashland University. To make a memorial contribution, click here or checks can be mailed to Ashland University, c/o Institutional Advancement, 401 College Avenue, Ashland, OH 44805.