Get to Know Me: Jim Ryan

Posted on May 22, 2017

Welcome to our “Get to Know Me” feature for RVC employees! Today we are going to get to know Jim Ryan.

Title: Vice President/Chief Operating Officer


Department: Administration


Tell us a little about your job at RVC.
Under the direction of the president, my position provides management oversight and leadership on several non-academic functions within the College, including special events, theatre, athletics, transportation, facilities management, capital construction, emergency management, police service, information technology, and business services. I also advise the president on policy matters related to community outreach.


What inspires you?
I have worked as a public servant my entire 25-year career. What inspires me is working with caring, dedicated individuals to make a difference in the lives of people within my community. Knowing that I made a positive impact-whether it be an individual or the community-inspires me.


What do you like to do for fun?
Much of my time is spent going to the various extracurricular activities of my three children, which I enjoy very much. I love spending time with family, hanging out with friends, going to sporting events, and playing golf.


What was your very first job?
My very first job was working in a factory as a teenager doing construction work on the factory and assembly. It gave me an appreciation for how hard people work in some difficult conditions, and the importance of an education.


Who are your role models?
My mother and father were real role models for me. They sacrificed so much for their kids and I couldn’t have been luckier than to have such loving, nurturing, hard-working parents. So many people do not have that support network, and I consider myself very fortunate and blessed that I did.


If you are a part of any local or national clubs or boards, please share those details.
Over the years, I have served on numerous boards in the community. Currently, I am the Chairman of the Board for the United Way of Rock River Valley. I believe so much in this institution that supports so many organizations to improve the health, income, and educational issues that face our region. If anyone would like to participate or assist with the United Way, please let me know!


Where is your favorite place to go at RVC?
That is a great question. As a new person, to RVC, I am still exploring, so my answer may change over time. I think the walkway along the creek through campus is one of my favorite spots. I also love the retention pond on campus, but it needs better access to it for people to enjoy. I am really looking forward to Starlight Theatre season to start as well.


What is your favorite quote or words to live by?
My favorite quote comes from an excerpt from a speech President Theodore Roosevelt gave at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, one of the first universities in the world, regarding being a citizen in a republic. The excerpt from the speech, entitled “The Man in the Arena” is absolutely my favorite:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


What is the best advice you have ever received?
My father would often remark, “you need to always believe in yourself.” He was a wise, funny man.


What’s the last good book you’ve read?
I have so many books that are half read. I just read “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. Great read.


What’s the last good movie you have seen?
Sully. It was a movie that shows us that ordinary people can do extraordinary things in times of adversity.


What is your favorite TV show to binge watch?
I am a History Channel and Discovery Channel junky. I can’t believe I am admitting this, but I love watching the show Gotham on Fox. As silly and corny as it can be, it’s like watching a car crash–you can’t take your eyes away from watching it.


Who is your favorite musician, group or band?
I love so many styles of music, I don’t know if I have a favorite. When you run into me, ask me if I like a particular musician or band, and I will give you my opinion!


What is your favorite thing to eat?
Being originally from New Haven, Connecticut, there is nothing better than fresh seafood like scallops, King Crab, or Lobster. But very hard to find good seafood locally, so that is a treat when I can partake in good, fresh seafood. I love cheeseburgers and pizza, and steak. All heart healthy, of course.


Where do you like to go or what do you like to do when you have a long weekend?
I love spending time with my family. One of our favorite spots is going up to my sister’s lake house in Lake Mills, Wisconsin for boating, fishing, and relaxation (I am the world’s worst fisherman, according to my son).


What might surprise people to learn about you?
I played the tenor saxophone in a local jazz band with Harlan Jefferson when we were growing up (I still tell him I taught him everything he knows….. ). Also, about 40 pounds ago, I played college football as a kicker and punter and was invited to play in NFL Europe and go to the NFL combine (neither of which I did, choosing to go to grad school instead-regret).


Finish this sentence: “There is no limit to…”
…what you can do when you put your faith, mind, and soul into something that you believe in.”


What has been your biggest personal challenge?
I worked as City Administrator for the city of Rockford for twelve years, longer than any city manager in the city’s history. The job took a lot of time away from my family and it was very difficult times for the city. Balancing work and family during those years was a challenge.


What’s the next big thing coming up in your life that you are looking forward to?
The next big thing that has come up in my life is the new role and job I have with Rock Valley. I am very excited to be here and make a positive impact. Rock Valley is one of the most important, vital institutions for this region’s current and future prosperity. I am looking forward to working with everyone at the College and the community to continue to help leave our community better than we found it for future generations.


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