Senior Fellow – Consultant
Donlu DeWitt Thayer, following her retirement from Brigham Young University on December 31, 2019, has assumed a role as Senior Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, where she was most recently Publications Director. During her more than ten years with the Center, Donlu oversaw print and electronic publications, including the building and management of the Center’s websites — the ICLRS website and its companion database, Religlaw, and the website and case table of the Strasbourg Consortium, which tracks the freedom-of-religion-or-belief jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Most recently she has developed the Center’s blog, Talk About: Law and Religion, which she will continue to manage as a Senior Fellow. She will also contiune to oversee the Strasbourg Consortium case table and Law and Religion Headlines, a project she developed in 2012 and since has sent regularly to subscribers worldwide. Donlu has been an Associate Editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion since its inception in 2012.
During her time at the Center Donlu produced numerous conference programs and delegate directories, built powerpoint presentations and templates, did Symposium and other conference reports, launched a YouTube channel and four Facebook pages. A significant responsibility was building and maintaining other websites operated by the Center, including those for the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS), the Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere, and the G20 Interfaith Forum. She was Associate Editor of the 5-volume Encyclopedia of Law and Religion (Brill 2016, Gerhard Robbers and Cole Durham, eds) and participated as writer / editor / manager of Center publication projects including briefs for the US Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, revisions and translations of the Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs casebook Law and Religion: National, International, and Comparative Perspectives (Wolters Kluwer 2nd ed. 2019), revisions of the treatise Religious Organizations and the Law (West ongoing, William Bassett, Cole Durham, Robert Smith, eds.), and editing and typesetting of the interim and final volumes of Religion and the Secular State (ICLRS 2010 and Complutense Univ. of Madrid 2015, Javier Martínez-Torrón and W. Cole Durham, Jr., General Reporters). Donlu is a member of the Milan-based International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) and is co-editor of four volumes in the Routledge ICLARS Series on Law and Religion.
Before joining the Center in 2009, Donlu had a long career as a teacher, writer, and editor. In addition to extensive freelance projects, she worked as an editor for BYU Press and was for many years volume editor for the New World Archaeological Foundation. She taught for the Brigham Young University English Department and Honors Program intermittently during 1970–2008, courses including beginning and advanced composition, intensive reading and writing, technical writing, creative writing, and thesis writing. After graduating from Law School, she created and taught the Honors Program course Advanced Writing for Pre-Law Students. Just prior to her retirement from teaching in 2008, she received the Honors Program’s JoAnn Britsch Teaching Excellence Award.
Donlu attended Brigham Young University as an Honors Program Scholar and a Karl G. Maeser Scholar, graduating in 1970 as co-valedictorian of the College of Humanities with a double major in French and English, a University minor in German, and a secondary teaching certificate. She received a master’s degree in American Literature from BYU in 1972, and a JD in 2004 from the J. Reuben Clark Law School, where she received the Faculty Award for Meritorious Service, the J. Reuben Clark Public Interest Service Award, and the Schooley Outstanding Mediator Award and was Justice of the Cowley Chapter of Pi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International. After law school she received specialized training in high-risk victim /offender dialogue and worked as a family attorney and a mediator, focusing on marriage, family, school, and juvenile court mediations. She was for a brief time executive director of Community Dispute Resolution Services in Utah County.
Donlu was married for 43 years to writer and BYU English Professor Douglas H. Thayer (until his death in October 2017). Doug and Donlu have six children, six children-in-law, and twenty-one grandchildren.