Magazine / News / People

New York alumni chapter president John Ritter helps new grads find their place in the Big Apple

“New York will never have the feel of Denver, but at least I can help others move more easily into a new way of life,” says New York alumni chapter president John Ritter. Photo: Jeffrey Haessler

New York City is a big — and oftentimes scary — place for newcomers, but John Ritter (BA ’72, BS ’72) is always there to provide some direction.

“Whenever I receive a call from a student or a DU graduate who is moving to New York, I try to make it a point to sit down [with him or her] and have breakfast, lunch or a cup of coffee,” Ritter says. “Some alumni are totally lost.”

It wasn’t so many years ago that Ritter — who was awarded the Randolph P. McDonough Award for Service to Alumni at this year’s Founders Day ceremony — was a bit lost himself in the Big Apple.

“New York is very, very different than Denver,” he says with a laugh. When Ritter first moved there in July 1974, the alumni association was in its infancy and he had trouble meeting people, making contacts and finding a place to live. He didn’t want things to be as tough for future DU students and graduates.

“I found that my transition was so difficult that when I got involved with the alumni association, I wanted to create a group that could help one another,” he says. “New York will never have the feel of Denver, but at least I can help others move more easily into a new way of life.”

At roughly 1,200 members, the New York chapter is now considered a model for other alumni chapters. Ritter has been president for the past 10 years, overseeing the group’s growth. It hosts numerous events, from holiday parties to business gatherings to social meetups. And when a member has a question — like where he should get an apartment or whom she should talk to about getting a job — they often call Ritter.

Over the years, Ritter also has conducted Ammi Hyde interviews of prospective students and has served on several DU boards, committees and focus groups. But he says he’s just a small part of a greater whole. Even as chapter president, he says most of the credit goes to the other seven members on the board.

“I don’t look at myself as the one,” he says, “just a little bit of the glue that pulls things together.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *