Reynold E. Carlson


Honorary Degree (1983)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John W. Ryan
Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award (1963)
Indiana University Bloomington
Health, Physical Education, and Recreation


Long before it was a popular cause in the country, Reynold E. Carlson was concerned about the environment. His particular interest was in the relationship of human beings to the environment and the meaningful utilization of natural resources to sustain a high quality of life. He was committed to creating outdoor recreation experiences, protecting basic ecological balance, and giving dynamic leadership to the international camping movement.

Professor Carlson joined the faculty of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University in 1947 and served the Department of Recreation and Park Administration with distinction as a teacher and department chairman until he was named professor emeritus in 1972. Professor Carlson earned his A.B. and M.A. degrees at the University of California at Berkeley. He was a high school teacher, a principal, and a naturalist with the National Park Service before he joined the staff of the National Recreation Association in 1936. His work with the Park Service and with the National Recreation Association brought him national acclaim as a champion of conservation practices.

In the early 1950s, Professor Carlson visited a 2,300 acre property given to Indiana University by the Bradford brothers. At the time of his visit, he found second-growth timber and a few deserted structures in need of repair. However, he saw in the site land worthy of development and was able to persuade University officials and leaders of the Riley Memorial Association that indeed the land had great potential. He invested hundreds of hours in preparing a master plan for land use, and fashioned educational programs that have become models for outdoor learning facilities in the United States, England, Australia, and Sweden.

Through his vision and efforts, the Indiana University Bradford Woods Outdoor Education and Camping Center became a reality, housing five resident camps, the national headquarters of the American Camping Association, a year-round workshop facility, and a comprehensive outdoor education program for school youth.

Under Professor Carlson's watchful eye, the Bradford House was renovated into a learning resources center that has become an integral part of Indiana University's Outdoor Education Program. On Professor Carlson's 80th birthday, the Learning Resources Area was dedicated in his name in recognition of his unique contribution.

Bradford Woods is the most visible monument to Rey Carlson's pioneering spirit, but there are also hundreds of students who, through their work in recreation and park service, are monuments to his extraordinary teaching skills. In 1963 he received the Frederick Bachman Lieber Award for teaching excellence.

In addition to his distinguished career as a teacher and his leadership in a number of professional associations, Professor Carlson has given outstanding service to the citizens of Indiana as a member of the Advisory Council of the Department of Natural Resources. He remains a highly respected member of the Council. He has a clear perception of public policy implications and is acknowledged as an expert in the management of the state's natural resources.

Professor Carlson has received distinguished service awards from the American Camping Association, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Great Lakes Park Training Institute, the American Recreation Society, the Society of Park and Recreation Educators, and the Girl Scouts of America. He has been active in a vast number of professional organizations whose leaders continue to seek his counsel. The right man in the right place at the. right time, Rey Carlson has given much and has received, in return, the respect and admiration of all who have benefited from his inspiration.