Planned Giving Features: Leaving a Lasting Impact at Central

Von Minden

Planned Giving Matters
David von Minden, Ph.D., former chemistry professor


A simple question often asked is, “What is it?” Throughout the day, the question can easily arise and lead to any number of simple responses. That same question to a chemist, however, can be much more complex. Chemists turn to science and trusted instruments in order to identify exactly what something is – or what it could become.


Throughout his storied career, David von Minden answered this very question through the use of mass spectrometry. The analytical technique was a specialty of the professor whose passion for chemistry strengthened the UCO Chemistry Department when he came on board in 1996. At Central, he shared his expertise with a multitude of students and his devotion to natural science only grew.


His rapport with students was easy and he could quickly identify pupils who would make excellent chemists – sometimes even successfully encouraging them to switch majors to chemistry. It was this connection to students that inspired von Minden to establish a planned gift at UCO. He wanted his impact to continue at Central for many years to come.


An advocate for others, von Minden’s contributions to campus can be felt through his tireless work as president of the UCO chapter of the American Association of University Professors to his tenacity in implementing change to the university’s tenure and promotion process for faculty. He also served as faculty advisor for the chemistry club and his devotion to the club was admired by students.


One of his favorite hobbies outside of chemistry was working in his garden. He had a knack for growing heirloom tomatoes and chile peppers – the spicier the better. Much like the cultivation of his own garden, it was important for von Minden to sow the seed of chemistry education at Central.


Close friend and former colleague, Dallas New, Ph.D., recalls von Minden seeking to honor his family through the naming of the scholarship made possible through his planned gift. The von Minden Family Endowed Scholarship was established to provide financial assistance to UCO students pursuing a degree in chemistry as well as support the chemistry department.


It was apparent to friends and fellow professors that von Minden recognized the importance of working hard in the present in order to yield a return in the future. During his time on campus, he was proud to give and was a Presidential Partner for several years. von Minden’s spirit of giving was established before he passed in 2021 and that ethos will continue through his forward-thinking of setting up a planned gift.


If you have an interest in finding out more about leaving a lasting impact at Central through a planned gift, reach out to Brenda Knott, associate vice president of the UCO Foundation. Knott can walk you through the process to ensure that your planned gift will be carried out exactly as you envision, and most importantly – that your influence and passion will continue to be felt at UCO.


Photo of Sandra Malin Mayfield

Sandra Malin Mayfield, Ph.D.
Legacy of passionate educator lives on through endowment

For 40 years, Sandra Malin Mayfield, Ph.D., dedicated her life to teaching. The last 29 years of her life were spent teaching at the University of Central Oklahoma. Over the course of her storied teaching career, Mayfield impacted no less than an estimated 10,000 students – a noteworthy legacy.

Born in 1941 in southeastern Oklahoma, Mayfield became a voracious reader as soon as she was able to read. Those early days spent reading a copious number of books at the Idabel Public Library instilled within her a passion for the written word.

After graduating as co-valedictorian at Idabel High School, she went on to excel at all levels of academia. Her impressive roster of degrees include: a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in French from Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU); a master’s degree in English from the University of Oklahoma (OU); a second master’s degree in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D. in English literature from OU.

Before coming to Central, Mayfield taught high school English and French, and collegiate-level English at both OBU and OU. As she neared the completion of her doctoral studies, she became a certification consultant with the Oklahoma State Department of Education where she labored for six years, working with school superintendents and college and university personnel, evaluating and granting teaching certificates to qualified prospective classroom teachers. Mayfield did not waver on her fervent belief in a quality education for every child.

Mayfield continued to make her impact on education in Oklahoma at UCO. She spent four years as the chair of the Department of English and served as the founder and director of the Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies Program, which is currently recognized as an academic minor. A devoted researcher of John Milton, Mayfield was selected as a John Milton Scholar by the National Institute for the Humanities. This selection subsequently opened the door to her membership in the International Milton Conference and selection by the Oxford University Round Table where she gave a paper on the place of academic women in positions of leadership.

Mayfield’s passions outside of the classroom included gardening, photography, and travel – both abroad and stateside. She often was able to combine all three interests through programs such as People to People, National Geographic and World Neighbors through which she was able to experience South Africa, Italy and Peru. In Barbados, she presented an academic paper on women of color and differences in ways of parenting.

Through her dedication and love of educating, Mayfield also served as faculty adviser to UCO’s award-winning chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, a national honorary society exclusive to exceptional students and scholars in the areas of English and the humanities. She was always willing to mentor both undergraduate and graduate students of English literature.

Mayfield retired from Central in 2014. Following her retirement, she spent years of laughter, happiness and joy with confidant Dr. Marlene Ryals White, a sister educator and UCO alumna. The pair gardened and giggled through many close Scrabble matches. In 2018, education in Oklahoma lost a true innovator upon Mayfield’s passing.

Her foresight as a reputable mentor and educator inspired Mayfield to set up an endowment through the UCO Foundation benefiting students in financial need who are pursuing a degree in English. Through the Dr. Sandra Malin Mayfield Endowed Scholarship, Mayfield’s indelible impact continues to positively affect students.

The Dr. Sandra Malin Mayfield Endowed Scholarship will benefit the first group of qualifying students with scholarships in the fall of 2021 because Mayfield included Central in her estate plans. Whether or not you have the money to make a gift now, you can leave part of your estate to the UCO Foundation or a specific department so you can help future generations.

If you are interested in furthering your legacy through the gift of education, contact Brenda Knott, associate vice president of the UCO Foundation, at 405-974-3561 or Mayfield’s impact will continue to be felt at Central as her endowment will benefit future scholars of English literature – just as she had intended.

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