Dedicated. Committed. Caring. Modest. Kind. Positive. Helpful. Genuinely Amazing. Those are just some of the adjectives used to describe this award winner. As a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, I feel privileged to introduce Ritter Clevenger as one of this year's all together one award recipients. I would like to tell you a little more about Ritter, by defining some qualities that demonstrate the "all together one" spirit. This award uses the following attributes and actions to represent what it means to be "all together one": building or shaping our JMU community, humility and caring about others, having a dedication to learning, being committed to working together, contributing to our JMU community in a unique way, and inspiring others.
As the Event Services Coordinator for Madison Union, Ritter shapes and builds up our Madison community every day. All year long, student organizations, departments, major event programmers, and summer conferences use Madison Union as a meeting and event venue. Ritter and his staff ensure that the set-ups and operations for events on campus run smoothly. Although much of his work is "behind the scenes," Ritter touches all of our students here on campus.
In addition to building community, Ritter has a mindset geared towards caring for others. As a supervisor, Ritter is a dedicated and caring mentor. Many student nominees have mentioned that Ritter always asks them about their day the moment they walk into work and that he even remembers what they told him. They cite the instances when he has been there for them whenever they needed to talk with someone. One student even said he rescued her when she locked her keys in her car right before winter break. According to these students, Ritter is always smiling and never fails to make everyone's day a little better. He keeps things fun and upbeat in the workplace and is never too busy to care about his employees. Ritter's colleagues cite numerous times when they have called upon him for assistance with events.
As a leader on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Costa Rica, Ritter impacted all of the students on the trip. They say that he went out of his way to help them book their flights, and thinking of things they missed. One student said that he literally gave the shirt off his back one day to protect someone from the sun. One student in particular needed a place to stay since the residence halls were closed that Friday. Ritter took the student into his home.
Ritter cares deeply about his family. He and his wife have graciously invited others into their home. They adopted their youngest son from within their family when a family member began facing personal challenges, so now they have two sons. Another example of this caring quality: they asked an elderly woman with dementia to stay with them after her son moved across country and all of her other immediate family members had passed away. They also invited his step-daughter, son-in-law, and nephew to come live with them. One nominator wrote, "[Ritter] cares [about] what you need, he cares [about] what your opinion is, he cares [about] what's going on in your life, and that translates into all of his relationships here at JMU; his customer service, supervisory skills, work with peers, committee work, and serving guests from off campus."
Ritter Clevenger is also dedicated to learning. Students on the Costa Rica alternative spring break trip, say that he asked questions of the tour guides, so that he and the other students on the trip could learn more about the culture and improve their Spanish. Students who work for him say that Ritter makes sure to provide them with training and knowledge they need so that they can best perform their duties and better serve the Madison community. One student volunteered that for her training program she expected to have to read a manual, but instead they ran around the building tied together on a scavenger hunt to learn random facts about the building, did team and trust-building activities with Kijiji, and ran again at top speed around the building to mimic a daily walk-through of the building. This emphasis on training, teaching, and learning empowers students to do their best both during and after work.
He is committed to teamwork. His staff and the students he supervises have all emphasized that his mantra is "Teamwork makes the dream work." He tells student employees during their orientation to get to know their colleagues and learn their strengths and weaknesses. The outcome of this dedication to working together is what leads to successful events all over campus like Summer Springboard, Freshmen Orientation, and events held by the University Program Board.
Ritter's unique contribution to JMU is his sense of humor and genuine ability to connect with people. He is always there with a joke or a smile, "His sense of humor, quick wit and the fact that you never quite know what's behind that gleam in his eye make him a great co-worker (co-conspirator) and supervisor to his students."
He inspires all those who know him. Here are some quotes from some students and colleagues:
"Ritter inspires us to work together and be the best we can be, both in and outside of Madison Union. I love my job and proudly tell anyone who will listen that, hands down, I have the best job on campus.
"[He] inspires us to be in line with the Madison Way, to care for each other and for the students and staff we work alongside and serve."
"Ritter is truly an unsung hero... [he is] at the hub of ensuring student organizations can run meetings, departments can host events, external constituents receive a warm welcome when arriving on campus, students can enjoy educational and social programs and the list goes on."
" [He has] a personality based on kindness and modesty.....regardless of the situation. Whether a JMU student or Costa Rican guide on the trip, everyone expressed what an inspiration Ritter is [to] their life."
As you can see from these quotes, Ritter Clevenger possesses the qualities of someone with the "all together one" spirit. Please join me in honoring Mr. Ritter Clevenger, recipient of this year's All Together One award.
-Julie Anna Vest