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The Power of an Endowment - Dr. Don Fleming

Dr. Don Fleming with Laura Wolfe

(Pictured: Dr. Donald Fleming with award recipient Laura Wolfe at the annual College of Business Honors and Awards Banquet.)

Donald Fleming, Ph.D., was a small-town boy from Chickasha, Okla. with big dreams. He knew he wanted two things from his college degree.

“I wanted something rewarding and I didn’t have money, so it seemed like a good idea to choose something where I could at least learn about it,” said Fleming.

He stayed focused and completed all three of his degrees in Finance, earning his doctorate from Texas Tech University.

Fleming devoted 35 years to teaching, with 25 of those years as both a professor and chair of the UCO College of Business Finance Department.

It was upon his retirement in 1998 that he started his first endowed scholarship as a way to honor his time at UCO.

To endow a scholarship at UCO a minimum of $5,000 is required. Fleming was both surprised and honored when he learned friends and colleagues were also contributing to his fund.

More than 15 years later what started out as a small gift has now steadily grown into three awards - two given to a male and female junior majoring in Finance, and a recently added award that will be given to a graduating Finance student with the highest GPA.

What makes an endowed account different from others is that it requires the principal to remain intact in perpetuity until sufficient assets have been accumulated to achieve a designated purpose.

For example, Fleming’s original $5,000, which has since grown to nearly $40,000, was invested and only the interest used to give awards. This provides a lasting legacy, ensuring his efforts will continue to impact students for years to come.

The UCO Foundation recently increased its distribution rate on endowments from three to four percent. They are hoping to see that number rise even further.

Until then, Fleming will continue to be a regular at many of the university’s student scholarship banquets, including the College of Business Honors and Awards Banquet where he personally gives out his awards. He has provided funding to nearly 30 students since he made that first gift 15 years ago.

“I have no children of my own and this is a wonderful way to help students get a college education,” said Fleming.