By: MARGIE POWELL – Staff Writer
The John E. Riley Award is presented annually to a junior who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to student life and service to UD and the city of Dayton.
Jack Raisch, a junior psychology major, was this year’s Riley Award recipient.
Chair of the Riley Award Search Committee, Steve Mueller, said each year the award is given to a rising senior who exhibits strong leadership, sustained volunteer activities and a deep understanding of the Marianist tradition.
Mueller also works in the Health Center as the Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellness Promotion and Director of the Counseling Committee.
Mueller said Riley was a longtime employee at UD and served as interim Vice President of Student Development.
“When he stepped down, the university decided to develop an award in his name for his years of service in student development and for the student body in general,” Mueller said.
The award is “a way of honoring John Riley for his service and his commitment to the university,” he said. “We want to recognize students who are making a difference to the university and the quality of student life, providing service and doing it over a sustained period.”
The process of selecting the Riley Award winner usually begins in January, Mueller said, when a university-wide notice is sent out to request student nominations. Nominated students submit applications which are reviewed by the Search Committee and narrowed down to five or six students who are interviewed by the committee members. Following this, the committee deliberates and selects the award winner.
“We typically have the interviews and then talk through it the same day,” Mueller said. He said the process often involves “splitting hairs” because all the candidates are well-qualified.
“The most difficult part is sorting through the subtle differences that make [the winner] a little more outstanding than the others,” Mueller said.
For 2014, the 29th year of the award’s presentation, Raisch was selected as that outstanding student.
Raisch said the people who are giving the award to him are key components to the growth of his service leadership, and that he is grateful.
“I was touched just being nominated,” he said. “Especially in a community of leaders.”
Raisch’s involvement on campus includes working for Housing and Residence Life, formerly as a Resident Assistant for Stuart Hall and currently as a Neighborhood Fellow for Stonemill; serving as a student ambassador, the public relations chair for Active Minds, and a Dayton civic scholar; and working as a photographer for the improvisation group On The Fly and writing for Dayton Most Metro.
Last year Raisch traveled to Zambia for volunteer work, he said.
“I was really honored, knowing that there were other student leaders on campus who do so much for students,” Raisch said. “It’s a really nice recognition. I know there are other student leaders who go unrecognized as well.”
Raisch said his senior year is about delving deeper into service communities and encouraging others to do the same.
“I really want to concentrate on being a proactive fellow. I want to do service projects once a month and make the street feel very invested in the community even at the end of their college experience,” Raisch said. “People do great things when they’re linked together.”