By Catherine Cruise
Talk to James and Gayle “Gigi” Green about things that are important to them and, aside from family, three specific topics are likely to surface: education, basketball and George Mason University. Recently, the Greens combined all three to create a significant and lasting means of support for some deserving students.
For many years, the Greens have been dedicated basketball season ticket holders at George Mason and have made significant donations to the men’s and women’s programs. Now they’re expanding their efforts to give back to Mason Athletics with the establishment of the W. James and Gayle Green Scholarship Endowment.
The Greens pledged $25,000 to name the scholarship and will provide another $5,000 over the next five years, money that will be made available directly, and quickly, to students in need.
“While the endowment is growing, we’re giving another thousand dollars per year for current use, so students can immediately benefit from it,” Gayle explains.
The Greens say they’re fortunate to be able to help talented student-athletes receive an education — ones who otherwise might not be able to afford college. “We are passionate about helping students succeed in pursuing their degrees while playing sports,” Gayle says. “Some individuals may not even consider going to college except for their love of sports and determination to be the best in the sports they play. If an athletic scholarship gives them the opportunity, we will support them.”
You could say the Greens are a true Patriot family. James, the lone member who did not attend Mason, has served on Mason’s Minority Advisory Board, Diversity Advisory Board and the board of trustees for the George Mason University Foundation. James is also now the chair of the University Life Advisory Board. Gayle graduated from Mason in 2000 with a BIS in media management and received her MA in telecommunications in 2009. She is a member of the Patriot Club Advisory Board and a former chair of the University Life Advisory Board. The Greens’s daughter, Kaycee, received her MBA from Mason in 2009. Their other daughter, Kellye, also attended Mason before relocating to Florida.
This endowment is the second created by the Greens. The first one, the Boydie Logan Endowment, was made through Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP), in memory of James’s father. This college preparatory initiative provides access to educational resources for middle and high school students who will be the first in their families to attend a college or university.
“We already had this other endowment,” James says, “but Gayle loves sports. So that’s why we decided to establish the second one. I’m doing it because it’s academics-oriented; she’s doing it because it’s academic and has an athletic part to it.
“Students excel at all kinds of things, and I think athletics is just one way to show that they’re excelling. Mason has been unique with respect to that. They try to make sure that students have both.”
Gayle says she feels a real sense of involvement with Mason’s sports. “I enjoy basketball,” she says, “and I think the Mason spirit is great for the community. I live close by, so it’s something I can do no matter what the weather. It’s exciting to be part of a group that I can cheer for and for a good cause.”
James works at Northrop Grumman and, once he retires, plans to continue to focus his energies on education. He says he’s “thinking seriously about substitute teaching in middle or high school. They really don’t have a lot of male role models, so I think that’s an area I could consider. And it won’t be a taxing job,” he adds with a laugh. “If they call you to come in, you only go if you want to.”
The couple’s involvement in the University Life Advisory Board, Gayle says, takes up much of her spare time, as does the EIP and the student transition empowerment program (STEP), an intensive five-week program that prepares first-generation college students for their transition to Mason.
“It’s a working board,” she says. “We raise funds for the EIP and STEP. We provide scholarships and identify mentors and internships for students in those two programs.”
Gayle is always eager, though, to make time for visits from her granddaughters. The children live in Florida, and the oldest is now attending the University of South Florida.
“We have already invested in our children, and we’re still investing in our grandchildren,” Gayle says. “But we want to give something back to the community, too, especially if it can help others.”
This article first appeared in Alliance, the magazine for Mason Athletics, in a slightly different format.