Dear Colleagues:
It is with sadness that I heard from Dr. Gary Dean of Indiana University Pennsylvania of the recent death of his colleague and ours, Dr. Jeff  Ritchey.
Gary was kind enough to write a lovely reflection of Jeff and his life.   So pasted in below are Gary’s thoughtful words:

Dr. Jeffrey A. Ritchey

Jeffrey A. Ritchey, age 51, Associate Professor of Adult and Community Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, passed away on November 24, 2014 after losing his battle with cancer. Jeff was a native of western Pennsylvania and lived with his wife, Beth, and son, Eli, in Hollidaysburg, PA. His family was always the center of Jeff’s life. He frequently talked about his wife, Beth, and son Eli, who was adopted from the Philippines. In addition to his family and professional life, Jeff was an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Hollidaysburg.

Jeff earned his doctorate in adult education from Penn State in 2000. Prior to joining the faculty at IUP, Jeff served in a number of positions. He was the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries at his church. At the same time he also taught online through the Penn State World Campus in the Adult Education graduate program. Prior to that, he worked for the Office of Graduate Fellowships & Awards at Penn State.

While at IUP, Jeff was the Program Coordinator for the Master of Arts in Adult Education and Communications Technology (a master’s programs shared between the Departments of Adult and Community Education and Communications Media). Jeff received the Faculty Recognition Award (2011) and the Outstanding Research Award (2014) from the College of Education and Educational Technology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Jeff was the co-editor of the PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning and for the Research Digest Column in the COABE Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education. In addition, he served as a manuscript reviewer for many other publications including the Journal of the Asian Society for International Relations and Public Affairs, International Journal of Business Applications,Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Adult Education Quarterly, and the Journal of Communications Media.

Jeff’s scholarly interests were many and varied. He conducted research in areas such as atheist communities, intentional living communities, rural adult education, corrections education, and asset mapping. His latest series of investigations took him to Indonesia where he and a colleague investigated the use of media by Islamic leaders to bring about social change in their communities.

Throughout all of these interests, Jeff considered himself a rural sociologist at heart, and the role of adult education in rural communities was the constant thread running through his work. In addition to editing aNew Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (#117) he published in journals such as Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, International Communication Gazette, International Journal of Business Applications, and Convergence.

Despite all of his professional accomplishments, Jeff was the consummate teacher and mentor. This is so because teaching was not something he did, it was who he was. He treated students with dignity and respect and had faith they would give their best in response. A few comments from students and colleagues will tell the story.

“I honestly looked forward to coming to classes throughout the program and learning all that Jeff had to share.  His professionalism, integrity, and sincere desire to help made him such a good instructor and member of the community.”

“He helped to teach me not only how to critically think about my career and role with students, but maybe most importantly helped to teach me a lot about myself.”

“I so much appreciated the many conversations that we had and . . . [he] will always play an important role in any successes that I have throughout my career.”

“He is an amazing teacher and mentor. Together, we learned so much on our differences and we managed to write research projects based on our endless coffee chat.”

“Jeff was a really dear professor, father, and friend. I knew him since last year, but I’m feeling that he has been one of my family members. He has helped my family and me a lot. It was my first time to see such a wonderful, sensitive, passionate, and honest person. I have learnt from him how a human being should act, and I bet anyone who knew him, will not say differently.”

“Dr. Ritchey was the best teacher I have ever had.”

Jeff’s sudden passing has left all of us in shock. As the shock wears away, we realize what a positive role he played in creating a caring learning community among the faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Adult and Community Education at IUP. Because of his integrity, and love for and faith in people, he was the example that provided inspiration for all of us and was what we all aspired to become.


Thank you Gary for your thoughtful words.

And thank you Jeff for the wonderful life that you lived.  You touched the lives of many people, including mine.  Rest in peace.

Most sincerely,

Libby Tisdell

Elizabeth J. Tisdell, EdD
Professor  of Adult Education
Adult Education Doctoral Program Coordinator
Penn State University – Harrisburg
777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057

work:  717-948-6640
cell:  717-579-8835
FAX:  717-948-6064

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