Those two words do not capture everything about Dr. Gifford “Giff” Weary and her nearly 40- year relationship with The Ohio State University, but her efforts to give back come with high expectations.
Put another way: She doesn’t like second place and is willing to do what is needed to be the best and get the best from others.
“I want to see Ohio State go absolutely as far as it can go. We need to invest time as well as money,” Giff says. “It’s a lot harder to stay No. 1 than to become No. 1.”
Giff, her husband David J. Angelo and The Weary Family Foundation endowed the Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Chair in social psychology and are generous supporters of the Department of Psychology, where she began working in 1978.
“Ohio State had the top program and I wanted to be at the top program,” she says, adding that new academic leaders in the 1980s took her department and the university to new heights. “There was an eye on excellence in everything we did. Excellence and elevating the profile of the institution. There was an intellectual vibrancy that sustained me and inspired what I was doing.”
Giff, David and the foundation endowed the chair because they want to ensure a program that has been the best for 50 years continues at that level nationally and internationally.
“It’s a hub discipline; look and you can see the branches all over campus. We need to elevate and keep it strong, so it can raise other disciplines,” she says.
Giff serves on the Foundation Board of Directors -- currently chairing the leadership and nominating committee -- because she knows the critical importance of development dollars in sustaining and elevating academic programs.
“It’s not easy to stay No.1 and you can’t do it with state dollars alone,” she says. “Development dollars really make a difference and they will only become more important down the road. If I can help the Foundation Board connect with Ohio State in ways it hasn’t before and accomplish its mission, then that’s time well spent.”
Her focus on being the best starts with students. She wants to see a diverse group that focuses on “big world problems.” To make that happen, she encourages undergraduates to find their passions and dig deeply into areas that they love and can sustain them for 50 years.
“We’re creating citizens here and part of citizenship is giving back. The opportunities I’ve been given -- and they are being given -- come out of a lot of work, time and money. We need to create a culture of giving back.”
Core academic disciplines, including social psychology, must be top destinations for scientists, students and policy makers. “We need to identify those and keep them at the top,” Giff says.
“I believe in the power of education to change lives. We need to embrace a culture of lifelong learning...and improve the quality of life for people. It just doesn’t stop,” she says.
Giff also has no plans of stopping. It’s about motivated gratitude.
“Giving of time is the greatest gift. None of us have enough of it,” she says. “I have had a life and a career I never dreamed I would have.”