Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter Prizes

Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter Prizes

The Ritter Scholars program was established in 1983 by Mr. Willis Ritter, a member of the Law School’s class of 1965. Established in memory of his parents, Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter, the prizes are intended to recognize members of the rising third-year class who best exemplify the qualities of honor, character and integrity envisioned by Thomas Jefferson when he founded the University of Virginia. Each recipient receives a tuition award.

Mr. Ritter’s parents were both native Virginians, his father an engineer and his mother one of the first women admitted to the practice of law in Virginia. Mr. Ritter graduated from Cornell University in 1962 having studied engineering, physics and government. During his three years at the Law School, he was a member of the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review, won the ABA prize for excellence in taxation, and served as defense counsel in the honor court system. He was a law clerk to Simon E. Sobelof, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and practiced tax law in Baltimore for several years.

In 1969, Mr. Ritter joined the staff of Edwin S. Cohen, then under secretary of the Treasury for tax policy, and a long-time faculty member and benefactor of the Law School. In that position, he assumed responsibility for much of the initial statutory and regulatory framework dealing with the exemption of interest on municipal bonds from federal income taxation. Since returning to private practice in 1972, Mr. Ritter has focused exclusively on various aspects of public finance, on which he has written and lectured extensively. He was the founder and senior member of the public finance practice group at Haynes & Miller, was the senior partner of Ungaretti & Harris, focusing on public finance transactions, and presently practices in the Law Office of C. Willis Ritter PLLC.

Mr. Ritter established the Ritter prizes, in his words, "to express the gratitude I have always felt for my education at the Law School, and the subsequent professional opportunities."

"In my experience, Virginia is the finest law school in the country, for its combination of academic excellence, collegial approach to the law, and the quality and character of its graduates," he once told a gathering of faculty and staff.

The Ritter prizes are awarded annually in the spring to up to four rising third-year students, based upon nominations from students, faculty, staff and alumni. From the inception of the program, Mr. Ritter has declined to offer any specific definition of the standards for the awards.

"One of the great values of the process," he says, "is to involve the entire community in its own definition of the terms. Hopefully, this will encourage a much larger group of people to define for themselves what these standards mean. My concept of 'honor,' 'character,' or 'integrity' may be quite different from yours, but it’s essential that each of us accept the importance of these qualities both in our personal and professional lives."

This unique approach engages constituents of the Law Schools as they define honor, character and integrity from the nomination phase through deliberations of the committee actually selecting Ritter Scholars. It can be considered an informal seminar fostering dialogue and thoughtful consideration.

Mr. Ritter says, "I make no claims to special expertise on the subject. I’m probably not much better, and not much worse, than most men of my generation. But, after many years, I continue to be convinced that these qualities — ineffable as they may be — are ultimately critical to both a successful professional and successful personal life. I think my parents had them; I try to live up to them myself; and I try to teach them to my children. That’s probably the most any of us can do."

Asked to summarize the factors which helped him achieve professional success and recognition in his chosen specialty, Mr. Ritter cited preparation and opportunity.

"Trite as it may sound, the old truths still apply: a well-rounded education and a variety of experiences lay the groundwork to take advantage of the opportunities which will inevitably appear. I was trained in engineering and government, studied tax law, clerked for a liberal federal judge, worked in the civil rights movement, and practiced in a mid-sized law firm in a mid-sized city. I had never heard of a municipal bond before I turned 30. But, when the opportunity arose to work in the area, I was surprised to find that all my prior experiences had equipped me very nicely.

"I have seen this pattern repeated many, many times. Very few of us can realistically predict the course of our lives; but all of us have the opportunity to prepare ourselves the best we can for whatever that course may be."


Ritter Scholars

Class of 1986  
Jeffrey R. Finci
S. Bernard Goodwyn 
Susan J. Hankin
Shelley R. Jackson

Class of 1987     
Michael Ray Keller
Cathy Lesser Mansfield    
Dayna Bowen Matthew 
Robert E. Richardson 

Class of 1988
Kim Collums Bonuomo 
Debra Sabatini Hennelly
James Leo Jacobs
James Fitzgerald Williams

Class of 1989  
Barbara E. Armacost
Brian C. Freeman
Abigail Johnson Raphael
Carlton W. Reeves 

Class of 1990     
Thomas D. DeVita     
Kenneth L. Metzner    
Catharina Yoosun Min      
D'wana R. Terry

Class of 1991  
Ann Bowman Hoover      
Kenneth L. LeBon 
Mark G. Seifert
Mary Kelly Tate

Class of 1992  
Paige M. Fitzgerald
Christa Speight Rapoport
Theodore W. Small, Jr. 
Dwayne Michael Tate 

Class of 1993
Linda Abdel-Malek 
Richard C. Gross
Dickens Mathieu
Patricia A.Sumner

Class of 1994  
Ricardo J. Hollingsworth
John T. Morton
Veronique F. Pluviose-Fenton
Stephanie A. Webster

Class of 1995
Diana Strauss Casey
M. Elizabeth Magill 
Wilfredo Pesante, Jr. 
Lavatus V. Powell Ill 

Class of 1996
Marie G. Cox
Tracey C. Hopper
Paul H. Smyth
Joseph R. Zogby

Class of 1997  
Dylan C. Black
Eric Sheridan Easley
Nancy G. Exume
Julie L. Gantz

Class of 1998
William E. Baroni
Gary M. Gansle
Kimberley D. Warden
Yu-Yee Wu

Class of 1999 
Justin Y.Gray 
Dana B. Hale
David D. Luce
Raquel B. Whiting 

Class of 2000     
Catherine K. Connelly 
John J. Franchini
Chinh Quang Le
Kristi Bess Panikowski

Class of 2001
Elizabeth Rose Amory
Sarah D. Anthony 
Forrest S.Christian 
John K. Henning

Class of 2002
Katherine L. Ballenger 
Terrica Redfield Ganzy 
Maria M. Mlynar
Rai I. Wilson

Class of 2004  
Samuel Fraser Reid Ill
Kevin G. Ritz
Emily Joy Vander Wilt Tidmore
Jeffrey P.Yarbro

Class of 2005  
Scott Michael Cullen 
Gregory David Henning 
Marne K. Mitskog
Matthew Jacob Quatrara 

Class of 2006     
Lindsay Buchanan Burke 
Christopher R. Kavanaugh 
Ann S. Robinson

Class of 2007  
Archie Lee Alston
Vanessa Kolbe Eisenmann
W. Eric Grant
Pamela Malisa Wells Reid

Class of 2008  
Brendan 0. Dignan 
V. Kathleen Dougherty
Mai-Linh K. Hong 
Ray Daniel McKenzie

Class of 2009  
Grace Eileen Fu
Rebecca D. Vallas
Joseph Barlow Warden

Class of 2010  
Erin Crowgey
Susan Edwards
Stephen Wills Murphy
Sarah Elizabeth Robertson

Class of 2011    
Melinda Marie Hightower
Martha Claire Kidd
Christopher Aaron Martin
Jesse Cobb Stewart

Class of 2012  
Lindsay Marie Brooker
Sarah Sophie Chase-Levenson
R. Kent Piacenti
Joseph Quinn Wood

Class of 2013 
Chase Johnson Cooper
Elizabeth Casey Dobbins
Ariel Marissa Linet
Daniel Mesfen Maalo

Class of 2014
Simon Joseph Cataldo
Kyle Alan Mathews
Sabrina Asgari Talukder
Lauren Elaine Yutchishen

Class of 2015        
Rory F. Erickson-Kulas
David M. Mitchell
Lide Evans Paterno
Taylor Marie Steffan

Class of 2016
Katherine Bogle
Neil Clausen
Claire Condro
Zachary Ray

Class of 2017
Kierstin Fowler
Casey T.S. Jonas
Charis Redmond
Gannam Rifkah