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Landscape Architecture professor giving back

STILLWATER, Okla. – He got a little help along the way and now he is returning the favor, in a big way, to Oklahoma State University Landscape Architecture students.
Landscape Architecture professor giving back

Prof. John Ritter

A 1961 graduate and professor for 20 years in the department, John Ritter recently donated $35,000 to create The Elmer and Mona Lewis Ritter Family Scholarship in Landscape Architecture, in honor of his parents. This gift will produce a $1,750 annual scholarship for a senior in the department.

“I quickly learned of the high regard that our faculty, staff and students have for professor Ritter,” said Ron Elliott, horticulture and landscape architecture interim department head. “Despite being retired, he has stayed connected to our landscape architecture program. John is a true professional who cares deeply about students.”

That compassion for students and the importance of receiving a higher education came naturally to Ritter. Growing up in the lower end of the income spectrum, he was constantly reminded of the importance of education.

“My mother received a two-year teaching degree, issued from Oklahoma A&M, missed no opportunity to visit the university with her children,” he said. “She always emphasized the importance of getting a higher education.”

And, that is just what he did. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from OSU, Ritter was drafted into the United States Army before earning a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Kansas State University.

The initial gift will help push his mother’s message, but he was not done. After some discussionamong faculty of the landscape architecture program, the idea of honoring Ritter through an endowed scholarship was hatched. The campaign to raise funds for the Professor John Ritter Scholarship in Landscape Architecture began with a $20,000 commitment from Ritter himself.

“Orange runs in my blood,” Ritter said. “My experiences with financial difficulties emphasized the value of even a small scholarship program.”

To pay for tuition his first few years of school at OSU, Ritter worked full-time and received a $250 scholarship from the Tulsa Gardening Club to cover the expenses of his senior year. It was the helpfulness from this scholarship that has fueled his passion to help students on their own journeys.

“During his tenure at OSU, professor Ritter was committed to teaching the next generation of landscape architects,” said Michael Holmes, director and landscape architecture associate professor. “Even in retirement, he is still actively engaged with the program, joining us several times a year for events and project critiques.”

The $20,000 commitment will be used to match funds generated up to the goal of $40,000 for the endowed scholarship, which will be a $2,000 annual scholarship benefiting landscape architecture students at OSU.

Those interested in giving to the endowment can visit to make donations.


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
145 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078