Senior Fellow – Consultant
Following her retirement from Brigham Young University at the end of 2019, Donlu DeWitt Thayer 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 building and managing the Center’s websites — the ICLRS website and its companion database, Religlaw. She also managed the website and case table of the Strasbourg Consortium, which tracked the freedom-of-religion-or-belief jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. She developed the Center projects Law and Religion Headlines and the blog, Talk About: Law and Religion. She was instrumental in the development of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion in 2012, serving first as Case Note Editor and then until 2021 as an Associate Editor.
As as significant responsibility at ICLRS, Donlu also built and maintained 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 was 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 part-time 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. She received the Honors Program’s JoAnn Britsch Teaching Excellence Award in 2008.
Donlu earned BA (French and English, 1970), MA (American Literature, 1972), and JD (2004) degrees from Brigham Young University. 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.