The All Together One Awards were created to recognize and thank the individuals who embody the spirit of community at JMU. They are hosted and organized by JMU’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a National Leadership Honor Society. The first annual All Together One Awards ceremony was held in the spring semester of 2000, and ODK has recognized superb members of the JMU community every year since. Unlike many other awards granted at JMU, the All Together One Awards boasts a unique difference: any one within the JMU community can nominate, and anyone can win. The nominees do not have to be members of any organization, class, or department to win an award.
To help their decision process, the selection committee looks at several aspects of the nominees and their contributions to JMU. Inspiration, community building, dedication to learning, a caring attitude, teamwork, and uniqueness are just a few of the qualities that are considered. The committee aims for approximately five recipients each year; however, the number is flexible. The goal is quality, not quantity. In the past, anywhere from four to six people have received the award.
This year, there were six All Together One Award recipients:
• Cindy Allen from the School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
• Pratik Banjade, JMU student
• Ian Spiegal-Blum, JMU student
• N. Ritter Clevenger of University Unions
• Kimberly Duvall from the School of Psychology
• R. Ann Myers of the Department of Social Work
One of the faculty and staff recipients was Ritter Clevenger, Events Service Coordinator of Madison Union. Some of the words that his nominators use to describe him are: dedicated, committed, caring, modest, kind, positive, helpful, and genuinely amazing. Ritter Clevenger graduated from JMU in 1999, and as he jokingly explained, “I graduated and just never left.” As he looks back at his experiences in Off Campus Life, the UDAP program, and finally his current job of eight years, Ritter notes that the JMU community has always fit his personality.
Ritter has a unique impact on the JMU community. His behind-the-scenes role allows him to interact with student organizations, departments, major event programmers, and summer conferences. He also has about 40 student employees under him ranging from projectionists who work in Grafton-Stovall Theatre, to building managers in Taylor and Warren. Ritter and his staff make sure that the set-ups and operations of events in these locations run efficiently.
When conversing with Ritter, you feel as if he is extremely engaged and interested in what you have to say, even with his many other responsibilities and connections. At the same time, Ritter shows humility by doing well in his job without drawing attention to himself. He often asks students how their days are going and never hesitates if they need a helping hand. Ritter’s generosity and concern for others is one of his strongest characteristics. In his personal life, Ritter invites into his home family and friends who need a place to stay. It’s safe to say that everyone he touches appreciates his selflessness.
This past spring, Ritter led an Alternative Spring Break to Costa Rica and impressed several students with his compassionate nature. In one instance, he literally took the shirt off his back to protect them from the sun. He asked questions to tour guides in Costa Rica so students could learn more about the culture and improve their Spanish.
At his usual workplace in Madison Union, he makes learning fun for his project managers. Their training activities include arranging a scavenger hunt with random facts about the building, engaging in trust-building activities with Kijiji, and running at top speed to mimic a daily walk-through of the building. Ritter’s motto is “Teamwork makes the dream work.” He tells student employees to get to know their colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses; the result to this perspective on teamwork is success in events such as Summer Springboard and Freshman Orientation.
One nominator wrote, “[Ritter] cares [about] what you need, he cares what’s going on in your life, and that translates into all of his relationships here at JMU: his customer service, supervisory skill, work with peers, committee work, and serving guests from off campus.”