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Sunday, Jun 25, 2017

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Dave Gettles established the One Foot in Front of the Other Scholarship

Alumnus Dave Gettles recalls being recognized when he was awarded a scholarship. That inspired him to acknowledge a student's determination with the OFIFOTO scholarship.

Photo courtesy of: Dave Gettles

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Patton alumnus designs ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’ scholarship for the determined student

Dave and Liza Gettles give back to OHIO by supporting students seeking the right career path.


Dave Gettles, an executive coach and trainer to non-profits at the Executive Service Corps of the Triangle in Raleigh, North Carolina, has fond memories of his time at Ohio University. The 1978 Patton College of Education alumnus recalls the different lessons he learned through classes outside of his college; lessons he still appreciates to this day.

“I took a music appreciation class which opened my eyes to the fact that there are all of these types of really good music and how they fit within the context of the world,” Gettles said. “An organizational psychology class was beneficial for me to look at organization in different ways, both for profit and not, and how the two organizations are made of different individuals even though they are trying to accomplish similar things.”

To recognize the variety of education and career paths OHIO has to offer a student, Gettles and his wife, 1978 alumna Liza Gettles, established the One Foot in Front of the Other (OFIFOTO) Scholarship. The scholarship will benefit a full-time undergraduate student enrolled in or accepted for admission to the University, who demonstrates both academic merit and financial need.

“I didn’t want to narrow it down so much,” Gettles said. “Rather than picking a particular college, because many students change vocations several times throughout their lives, I thought what’s most important would be to reward someone who has really shown determination. We’re looking at the overall person.”

Gettles majored in recreation management while at OHIO, working in the field upon graduation. It was not long, however, before he decided to switch paths and enter the insurance industry. While he only intended to work in insurance for three years, he has since gathered more than 30 years of experience, holding several executive positions in the industry.

When deciding what to name the scholarship, he and his wife wanted to capture the determination and journey of a student.

“Our daughter mentioned that someone she had met in Stroller Strides (a fitness and music program for mothers and their babies) uses the acronym OFIFOTO, ‘One Foot in Front of the Other,’ when things got a little tough,” Gettles said. “We thought this was a great saying and represented what we hope the scholarship would recognize: someone who exemplified the OFIFOTO principal upon facing challenges we all experience.”

Prior to establishing the OFIFOTO Scholarship, Gettles has given to OHIO in a capacity of ways. His giving history dates back to 1991 when he made his first gift of $25 to The Patton College of Education, followed by several annual fund gifts to the college.

“Annual fund donations are used in a variety of ways in The Patton College of Education,” said Tim Binegar, director of development for the college. “Currently, annual fund gifts can be designated to the general fund account that supports student and faculty work related to scholarship and research, the student scholarship fund for students that show academic promise, and The Patton College Building Maintenance Fund for the maintenance and upkeep of the newly renovated McCracken Hall.”

Gettles has always recognized the impact of financial gifts to the University, no matter the amount, and thought the next logical step would be to establish a scholarship.

“I remember in 1978, I got awarded the Carl T. Nessley Scholarship,” Gettles said. “But I don’t remember it for the money; I remember it for the fact that I was being recognized. I thought this scholarship would be a great way to reinvest moving forward and hope it will be as meaningful to someone [as the scholarship I received].”

Gettles credits the OHIO Match program for making endowing a scholarship possible and leveraging his gift. Through the OHIO Match program, Gettles’ gift was matched 50 cents on the dollar by the University and dollar for dollar by his corporation.

“This matching scholarship program has been a wonderful way for individuals interested in endowing a scholarship to fund it in perpetuity,” said Ellen Fultz, executive director of development, scholarships and special projects at OHIO. “Recognizing that scholarships play an important role in determining whether a student can go to college and where they go to college, we want to be able to get the best and brightest students at Ohio University. To do that, we need to be able to provide them with a good financial support.”

As it continues in perpetuity, Gettles hopes the scholarship will have a lasting impact for its recipient.

“I hope it’s awarded to somebody who will find this gift meaningful and can look back at it knowing that it was recognition for the hard work they have done and will continue to do,” he said.