President, NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville

Dennis C. Rittle, Ph.D., is the new president of NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. His start date at NWACC is July 11. He was previously president at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas. He has also served as Provost and Executive Vice President of Learning at Ozarka College in Melbourne, Arkansas. Dr. Rittle began serving as a full-time faculty member in higher education in 1995 and has since provided educational leadership for government, for-profit, and public educational sectors in both two-year and four-year institutions. He was the first in his family to attend college and to earn a two-year degree with the Community College of the Air Force. While in the military, Dr. Rittle served both overseas and stateside during peacetime and conflict and is a highly decorated veteran and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Throughout his career, he has completed five degrees and has since completed post-doctoral coursework at Harvard University and will complete an M.B.A. at the University of Kansas in 2022.

Dr. Rittle is a highly respected presenter in local, national, and international settings to include being a guest lecturer and presenter in venues such as Bentonville, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Oxford, England. He is also an accomplished researcher and author, to include more than a dozen scholarly publications.

Student success has served as a centerpiece throughout Dr. Rittle’s career. He developed new funding streams of more than $20M to increase access to quality and affordable higher education. Dr. Rittle was involved in the development of more than three dozen academic programs and certificates to provide a skilled and work-ready workforce to area businesses and industries. In addition, he understands the importance of co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities such as internships, student clubs, athletics, and campus-life activities to enhance student learning, student retention, and community engagement.

Dr. Rittle also recognizes and supports the value of college’s most importance resources, the employees. During his tenure as college president at Cowley College, he championed the adoption and implementation of a competitive pay scale for all employees and the inclusion of compensation for years of service. In addition, Dr. Rittle prioritized communication with employees to discuss their interests and concerns through various media such as weekly newsletters, bi-weekly town hall meetings, roundtable discussions with faculty leaders, and campus sit-down meetings with all employees each semester.

As a high-achieving transformational servant leader, Dr. Rittle has served on numerous state and national boards, councils, and committees, to include serving as the President of the Kansas Community College Council of Presidents and as a board member of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges. Dr. Rittle has been the recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards in education, business, and leadership. However, he considers his greatest achievement to be his family. Dennis and his wife, Christy, have been married for 30 years. Recently, they celebrated the wedding of their son and the birth of their daughter’s first child. Dennis and Christy enjoy spending time in nature and volunteering their time and resources to meet community needs. Their faith has been and continues to be the cornerstone of their lives.

Dr. Rittle earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership, emphasis in Human Resource Development, from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia; a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies from Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri; and two Associate of Applied Science degrees in Teaching and in Meteorology from the Community College of the Air Force in Montgomery, Alabama.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role at NWACC?
I am looking forward to serving a growing number of citizens and business partners in Northwest Arkansas while working alongside an extremely talented team of professionals at the College. The opportunity to synergize the resources of the college and the community in terms of talent and dollars is highly energizing because this is the recipe for innovative and exhilarating outcomes.

What do you do when you are not working?
I spend time with my family such as going on walks together or catching a good action-packed movie. I volunteer my time for meaningful causes that help improve the lives of others. I also work with my hands such as gardening and woodworking. It is a reprieve because my vocational work requires so much thinking. I also enjoy simply being outside in nature.

Where is your happy place?
Holding my wife’s hand

Favorite quote:
Leadership is not being in control of others but being in control of oneself.

When faced with the inevitability of conflict, it is wise to remember, people are not so much against you – they are passionately for themselves.

Best time of day for you:
9-11 a.m. and 8-10 p.m.

Favorite song on your playlist:
I have many favorite songs. All of my favorites are contemporary Christian songs. However, my top two favorite songs are “Language Barrier” by Halo and “The Flame Passes On” by White Heart.

What book is on your bedside table?
The Bible

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