Over a rewarding 30-year career, Richard Cliver has worked with students of different ages and at different points in their careers. All had high expectations of being well-prepared for the engineering profession, and he set about early on to meet those expectations.
He began teaching at RIT in 1988 as an adjunct. His students then were the age he is now.
“When I walked in the classroom, one said, ‘Boy, go get the teacher.’ We laughed but, I thought, if I am going to be their teacher, I am going to have to be on my game,” said Cliver. He would be recognized in 1998 with the Excellence in Adjunct Teaching award, the first of three teaching awards he has received while at RIT. In 2002, Cliver was the recipient of the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and most recently he was honored with a 2017 Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching.
“Helping people, seeing people learn, it’s like being on a whitewater rafting trip, and we are riding the waves together,” said Cliver, an associate professor in the College of Applied Science and Technology’s electrical, computer and telecommunications engineering technology program. He is also a consultant at Kodak, remaining connected to industry and tying the experiences to his classes.
Outside of the classroom, The Cliver House is as well-known and sought after as his classes in analog and digital circuit design. He and his wife, Lora, have opened their home to many students over the years, and the fellowship is as delicious and inviting as the menus.
“It nourishes the soul,” he said of the Friday night meals and the end-of-the- year bonfire at his Churchville home. His wife prepares meals from soup to desserts, some entrees made from eggs from the dozen or more chickens on their land. The casual food and fellowship has become an anchor for some students who have shared with him that it was this connection to RIT— and Cliver—that made a difference in their lives. While classwork serves them well in their careers, the model of how to engage people intellectually, at the same time breaking bread with them, has an impact on how they live.
Cliver’s three distinguished teaching awards reflect his growth as a faculty member but also his understanding of how faculty can influence students toward career success.
“A properly led horse will drink eagerly,” Cliver said, using a quote from a fellow faculty member in CAST, and adding that his role is to make coursework relevant and interesting.
“And showing that you care, this is the key to the students wanting to learn, not just needing to learn,” he said. “There’s a million ways to do life—this works.”