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The Faces That Make Us: Jeff Richter '05

by Janelle Hill M’23 Feb 27, 2024
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Jeff Richter has seen a lot of change and growth on campus.

The 2005 marketing and management graduate came back to DeSales the very next year. He started his career on campus running the University card office and assisting with conferences and events. 

He transitioned to assistant director of auxiliary services, and later director, overseeing dining and catering, conferences and events, the card office, the campus store, mail services, and transportation. Today, Richter is director of campus environment and serves as the main purchasing agent for the University. 

“My position now gives me the opportunity to work with a broad swath of the campus—staff, faculty, and even students,” he says. “And a lot of what I do is geared toward improvement: improving a facility or a program, bringing a new space online. You feel like your work, when it’s done, has made the campus better or facilitated some type of continuous improvement.” 

1. What’s the best thing about working at DeSales?

I’ve been here for a number of years now and the best thing continues to be the people. It’s a place with a lot of kind, thoughtful, and collaborative people. It’s a culture where if you have an idea or an initiative, people will work with you, and you can make of it what you want. It’s also a great place for our students; we’re very student oriented. 

2. Tell us about the sustainability initiatives that campus environment is implementing and why they’re so important. 

Sustainability has been an important part of this University and higher education in general for a number of years. But those efforts were happening in a very siloed way at DeSales. You had some sustainability-focused student organizations, the Center for Service and Social Justice, dining, and campus environment all doing different things on their own. 

There became this recognition of a need, spearheaded by Fr. Kevin Nadolski, for DeSales to have a full-time person who comes in every day and thinks about sustainability on our campus. We created a sustainability coordinator position that was filled by Sarah Miller ’16 a little over 18 months ago. Our mission has been to take a lot of these efforts that were happening in an ad hoc way on campus and create a coalition of people all working together to advance our sustainability initiatives. 

3. What do you love about living in the Lehigh Valley?

I was born and raised in south Bethlehem and still reside there today. I come from a family of steelworkers. What I like about living in the Lehigh Valley: there’s a little bit of everything for everybody.

It’s not a super-urban big city, but if that’s your scene, there are great downtowns. If you want to get away and go to a more rural setting, that’s close by too. It’s a great place to live and with the influx of people moving into Bethlehem and the city constantly making lists of the nation’s best places to live, I think a lot of people agree. 

4. Favorite spot to take your family?

My son, Henry, and I are avid disc golfers. We like to tour the Lehigh Valley’s copious amount of disc golf courses. We’re very lucky because we have a lot.

I was also fortunate enough in this position to lead an effort, along with Dr. Joe Leese, to revamp our own disc golf course on campus and put in one of the area’s highest-rated courses. 

5. Advice for new employees?  

Don’t be afraid to take something and make it your own. Take pride of ownership: whether that’s an initiative, or starting a program, or changing the way something is done at the University to make a better experience for our students.

I think people, especially if they have worked for bigger employers in the past, are used to coming into work and having a narrow role or set of tasks that they do. This University affords you the opportunity to take as large a role as you would like, to get involved in different committees, to voice your opinion, and to facilitate change in places that you feel need it.