Fresh off his second term on the Marietta College Alumni Association Board of Directors, Jeff Stafford ’83 took a moment to reflect on his time as a student at Marietta and what kept him committed to helping his alma mater.
“It’s not something that happened immediately after I got out of college,” Stafford says. “It wasn’t until after I had a family of my own and saw the progression of my career that I had the opportunity to look back and realize that I did get a great value in the education I got at Marietta College.”
Stafford graduated from Marietta High School in 1979 and was a talented student and athlete.
“I wanted to play sports and I wanted to get a good education,” Stafford says. “I knew I could do both at Marietta (College), so that’s why I chose it. I have never regretted that decision.”
At Marietta, he majored in Marketing and Management and was a standout on both the basketball court and track and field. Stafford still holds the men’s outdoor high jump standard for Marietta — 7 feet — which he cleared in 1981. It is also the record in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
“Being a student and an athlete complemented one another,” he says. “Your time is more structured and you are forced to be very organized. Student-athletes develop good time-management skills, which helps them throughout their lives. It’s helped me.”
He was inducted into the 21st Class of the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004, as a three-time letter winner in basketball and track and field. He was named co-captain of his basketball team during his junior and senior years.
Susan Allender, Assistant Director of The Marietta Fund, has known Stafford since they were children.
“We went to school together, so I’ve known Jeff for a very long time. He is such a good person, a good family man and a dedicated alumnus,” she says. “When he was serving on the MCAA Board, he always gave above and beyond what he was asked to give — supporting The Marietta Fund, the Senior Challenge and athletics.”
Part of being on the Board of Directors is participating in a match program for the Senior Challenge. Graduating seniors collectively raise their first gift to the College during their undergraduate years at Marietta. More than 40 percent of the Class of 2012 participated. MCAA Board members collectively match what the seniors have raised, and that gift is presented to the College during Commencement. This year, nearly $7,200 was raised by the class and the board.
“The Marietta Fund supports all aspects of Marietta College, so it’s a great way to be a part of what’s happening and what can be accomplished at Marietta,” she says. This year, the College has set a $1.7 million goal for The Marietta Fund.
Allender says Stafford is always interested to learn how the College is doing and what exciting events are happening on campus.
Though Stafford never lost touch with the College after he graduated, when he was asked to serve on the MCAA Board, he saw it as a means to reinvigorate his relationship with Marietta at a higher level.
He applauds the efforts Marietta has made to reengage alumni and enjoyed his time working with Hub Burton, who is currently serving as interim Vice President for Advancement. While Stafford served on the Board, Burton was the Associate Vice President for Alumni and College Relations.
“One of the things I’ve learned in life is that you become like the people you surround yourself with. The quality of the students at Marietta really impresses me, and being able to work with people like Hub Burton and members of the MCAA Board was a pleasure,” Stafford says.
Stafford lives in Tennessee with his wife, Pamela Lane Stafford ’90, and their son, Grant. He is the Division Vice President and General Manager for Sonoco Products Co., which is headquartered in Hartsville, S.C.
“As I advanced in my career, I began to fully understand the value of my college education and my own personal development while at (Marietta College),” Stafford says. “I feel very strongly that the academic, athletic and social atmosphere on campus was the perfect fit for me. I have been blessed with lifelong friends and feel I left Marietta with a solid foundation, equipped to succeed in the real world. Giving back is my way of showing my appreciation to the College for all I was provided while there many years ago.”
Jeff Stafford is The Marietta Fund.