Don Ritchie retires but his family of PCC advisors rolls on
Photos and Story by Misty Bouse
After 30 years of dedicated service, Public Service, Education, and Social Science (PSESS) pathway advisor Don Ritchie is retiring in mid-August. The Ritchie family has strong ties to Portland Community College, with Don’s wife Kathleen working as a part-time advisor from their Tigard home, and his son Jordan serving as a Health and Emergency Professions (HEP) pathway advisor at the Sylvania Campus.
Don Ritchie’s journey at PCC began in 1993 as a part-time information clerk before transitioning to the counseling office. Encouraged by colleagues, he pursued a master’s degree in counseling from Portland State University, eventually becoming an advisor at the Southeast Campus in 2005.
“You know, 30 years may seem like forever, but it goes amazingly fast,” Ritchie recalled. “Some days can feel like years, but the years themselves still manage to fly by. What I’m going to miss the most is the camaraderie of fellow staff members.”
Throughout his career, Ritchie has been an inspiration to both students and colleagues. Known for his kindness, patience, and sense of humor, he has earned a strong student following of “fans” who often return to seek his guidance, according to fellow adviser Ariana Ritchie (not related). Don’s legacy as a caring advisor has contributed to the success of over 5,000 PCC students who transfer to universities annually and others who complete certificates and degrees on time.
As part of the PSESS pathway, Ritchie assists students in creating personalized academic plans aligned with their educational and career aspirations. His main goal is to help students succeed academically, stay on track to graduate, and make the most of their college experience in the pathway’s 22 programs.
As retirement approaches, he contemplates taking a break to enjoy his favorite Columbia Gorge Barbera and spend time with his newborn, third grandchild. While he has been offered the option to continue advising part-time, Ritchie remains undecided about returning.
Over time, the transition from paper-based plans to the EAB Navigate Academic Planner has modernized the advising process, making it easier for students and advisors to monitor academic progress online. Ariana says that back in the days of drop-in appointments, there were only two main advisors on the old Southeast Campus. Those days, Don Ritchie could see up to 20 students a day depending upon their needs. She says that Ritchie has seen a lot but he remains relaxed and committed to student success. He has helped students pursue diverse careers, including addictions counselors, paralegals, anthropologists, early childhood educators, corrections officers and more.
The PCC community celebrates Don Ritchie’s exceptional career and contributions as a supportive and knowledgeable professional. His retirement leaves a legacy of positive impact on students and colleagues to be cherished for years to come.