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Posted October 5, 2005

Ritter Scholars Embody Integrity, Honor


Ritter Scholars

From left, third-year law students Chris Kavanaugh,
Ann Robinson, and Lindsay Buchanan
Each year the Law School awards a prize that reminds the community of the bedrock values the University was founded on: honor, integrity, and character. Third-year students Lindsay Buchanan, Chris Kavanaugh, and Ann Robinson were chosen this year as representatives of those values through the Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter Prize, a monetary award applied toward recipients’ tuition.

“The Law School and the University always prided itself on this concept of honor, character, and integrity. I noticed some years ago that there was nothing at the Law School that recognizes those particular characteristics,” said C. Willis Ritter ‘65, who established the award in 1983 to honor his parents. Ritter is a partner at Ungaretti & Harris in Washington, D.C., specializing in public finance transactions.

“It was designed to encourage a large number of people in the community to think about what is meant by honor, character, and integrity,” Ritter said, adding that people may decide on their own definition individually. “I think that’s extremely important.”

Ritter Scholars have “conducted themselves in the community in a way that’s an example to others,” said selection committee chair Earl Dudley. “It comes out in different ways in different people in different years.” Students, faculty, staff, or alumni may nominate students who are eligible for the award.

Ann Robinson said it was an honor to be considered in the same category as previous Ritter Scholars she has known. “It’s incredibly flattering because the nominations are from other people at the Law School.” Robinson, a former peer advisor who also mentors undergraduates interested in law, will be clerking for Judge Diana Motz ‘68 of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals next year. Robinson has coached after-school soccer with the I Have a Dream program and this year is working with the Law School’s Graduation and Admissions committees.

“It means a lot to me that the award winners are chosen by faculty, alumni, and students,” said Lindsay Buchanan, an executive editor of the Virginia Law Review. “It’s the generosity of alumni like Mr. Ritter that make this such a terrific community.” A tour guide for the school since her first year, Buchanan has been involved in a number of organizations, including the Conference on Public Service & the Law and the Curriculum Committee. She recently secured a clerkship with Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Ritter Scholar Chris Kavanaugh said he was “shocked” that he won the award. He spoke with Ritter on the phone, and they found they have much in common. “It seems like he really loves this school,” said Kavanaugh, who is a currently a quarterfinalist in the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition, serves as the chair of the Admissions and Class Gift committees, and is also a peer advisor. Kavanaugh also secured a clerkship in the Eastern District of Virginia, with Judge James Cacheris.

Honor and integrity mean different things to different people, but “I think it boils down to doing what you think is right, whenever it’s only you that is watching,” Kavanaugh said.

Ritter was proud of this year’s scholars. “I’ve read their bios and they’re all the kind of people you trust in a heartbeat.”

In addition to his private practice, Ritter has served the public as well. Since 1998, he has been a pro bono legal consultant to the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations. In 2001-02, he acted as Chief Legal Adviser to establish the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ritter said he has worked with many Virginia lawyers in his practice, but “I’ve never once had a Virginia law graduate break his or her word to me.”

Nominations for the Ritter Prize are due in spring. More
• Reported by M. Wood

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