Dan Ritchie’s long, distinguished and wide ranging career has taken him from Wall Street to Hollywood to a ranch in Colorado, and from banker to university chancellor to impresario of one of the nation’s leading performing arts centers. There were signs very early on that theater would become a part of his resume. Mr. Ritchie was a member of The Hasty Pudding Theatricals while attending Harvard University. He left Harvard with his undergraduate and MBA degrees. Following Harvard, Mr. Ritchie served in the Army. When he was honorably discharged, he joined Lehman Brothers as a securities analyst in New York. Mr. Ritchie was lured away from New York and investment banking to move to Hollywood where he became Executive Vice President of MCA Universal and a pre-eminent force in the entertainment industry. MCA also owned Columbia Savings and Loan in Colorado and one of Mr. Ritchie’s assignments was to lead the savings and loan, a position he held for several years. The next big step in his career came when he joined Westinghouse Broadcasting, taking on a number of assignments, eventually becoming CEO. While at Westinghouse, Mr. Ritchie was a pioneer in creating and developing the cable television industry; he imagined some of the most highly regarded brands in cable television. When he retired from Westinghouse. Mr. Ritchie headed back to Colorado and a completely different way of life. He became a rancher, settling down on his Grand River Ranch near Kremmling, Colorado.
His cowboy years didn’t last long. Mr. Ritchie was invited to become involved with the University of Denver (DU) at a time when the school’s fortunes were declining. He ultimately became Chancellor, serving for 16 years and leading DU to new levels of academic and economic success. Mr. Ritchie proved a strong advocate for the University. He was instrumental in securing major gifts. Under his guidance, DU raised $274 million for academic programs and $430 million devoted to buildings for student residence halls, business, science, law and music education; a center for athletics, recreation and wellness; a performing arts center, and more funds for scholarships. His personal dedication to DU includes more than $75 million in gifts and a salary waiver for his term as chancellor.
After retiring as Chancellor of DU, Mr. Ritchie joined the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in 2007 as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership, the DCPA expanded its new play development program, launched three national Broadway touring premieres, provided funds for two successful matching gift fundraising campaigns, and served more than 400,000 students through its extensive theatre education program. Ritchie has been instrumental in the Theatre Company’s world premiere productions, including Lydia, Plainsong, Inana, The Catch, When Tang Met Laika, The Whale, Sense & Sensibility The Musical, and the upcoming fall production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. In that same period, the Broadway division has made an annual tradition of launching national tours, including The Book of Mormon, Peter and the Starcatcher and the upcoming national tour debut of Pippin. Ritchie also has been instrumental in diversifying the DCPA’s programming with the development of Off-Center @ The Jones, an experimental theatre designed to make theatre less formal, more fun, decidedly innovative and appealing to new audiences.
His civic involvement is considerable. In addition to his involvement at DU, he is president of the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation and sits on the boards of Daniels Fund, Denver Art Museum Foundation and Colorado Concern. He is past-president of Independent Higher Education of Colorado, an honorary trustee of the Central City Opera Association, and previously sat on the National Parks Service Advisory Board, among others.
Mr. Ritchie’s recent philanthropic gifts have been made to the University of Denver to fund the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering in Computer Science (named in honor of his father), the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
His dedication to the community has been recognized with numerous awards including: Cable Hall of Fame, Citizen of the West (National Western Stock Show), National Samaritan Institute, Gold Medal (Poor Richard Club), Outstanding Philanthropist (National Philanthropy Day), National Human Relations (American Jewish Committee), Community Cultural Enrichment (Mizel Museum of Judaica), Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, and Ethical Leadership Award (University of Denver). He also has been inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame (Visit Denver) and the Colorado Business Hall of Fame (Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.)