Dr. Robert "Bob" Rittenhouse—who spent 14 years helping build the Deaf Education program at the UA LITTLE ROCK—does not believe in coincidences.
Perhaps that is why he still gets misty eyed when he recalls the interesting set of circumstances that led him and his wife, Pat, to adopt a 7-year-old deaf girl named Nori from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 1996. Their journey is described in a recently published book by Rittenhouse.
Dr. Rittenhouse is clearly proud to share that Nori, now 23, is set to graduate from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., a federally chartered university for the deaf and hard of hearing and the only one of its kind in the world.
"Nori symbolizes the potential that lives in children all over the world, those who have and those who need. God used us; He'll use all those who yield to His will" Rittenhouse said.
Now the Rittenhouse family is willing to be "used" for another purpose—the creation of the Bob and Patricia Rittenhouse Endowed Scholarship, to be funded in part by a $25,000 Charitable Gift Annuity they established through the UALR Office of Development. The funds will provide assistance to any sophomore, junior, or senior level student who has declared a major in the Interpreter Training Program at UALR.
Although he has retired to Knoxville, Tennessee, Dr. Rittenhouse's love for UALR and the Department of Counseling, Adult, and Rehabilitation Education has never abated. He said the Sign Language Studies Program is instrumental in teaching and training students to make the world a better place for those who cannot hear.
"On a practical level, we want to build the scholarship up," Rittenhouse said. "But hopefully, it will also create a sense in the students to pay it forward. We realize that it's a small start, but we do have a big vision for the scholarship".
Rittenhouse shared what he called "his simple philosophy about the legacy of giving": "We're expected to give, to be a blessing to others," he said. "Help if you can and when you can. We all have the potential to make a difference."