Impact of Leroy Coffman
THE TRADITION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL OKLAHOMA was a deeply rooted one for Leroy Coffman. From his early days in Cement, Oklahoma, he was a strong believer in learning and sought to remove barriers to education. Those principles only strengthened during his lifetime.
Coffman came from a family that included several Central graduates, including his mother and aunts. His aunt, Mary Black, provided him with some money to attend Central State College, which instilled in him a desire to give.
Graduating with the class of 1957, Coffman felt a sense of pride walking beneath Old North tower. He earned a degree in business education and soon after began a successful career as a comptroller at Mobil Oil, as well as started a family that included two daughters, Mary Jane and Donna.
A champion of education, Coffman always looked forward to discovering new experiences and knowledge. When the moment came to live in Indonesia through his career, he seized the opportunity and spent 15 years living abroad off and on.
Through the years, Coffman’s affinity for all things Bronze and Blue only grew. He was named a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient in 1991, due to his dedication to his alma mater. An avid fan of sports and the arts, you could often catch him in the stands at a football or basketball game or viewing a performance in Mitchell Hall.
Before beginning his career in oil, Coffman had planned to teach. That passion for teaching inspired Coffman to create the Black and Randolph Families Endowed Scholarship in Education, named after his beloved family members who had attended Central. He then launched both the Leroy G. Coffman Endowed Scholarship in Athletics and the Leroy G. Coffman Endowed Chair in Education to further his commitment to education.
“He was open to helping when he could, whatever was needed at any time,” said Donna Beardmore, Coffman’s daughter. “Whenever or wherever there was a need, he would do what he could.”
During UCO’s Always Central Campaign, a key component was revitalizing Old North, a campus initiative close to Coffman’s heart. His support for the facility improvement was integral. A tribute to Coffman was made in 2017, when a space in the reopened Old North was named The Leroy Coffman Territorial Lounge.
Coffman also served the university on the UCO Foundation Board of Trustees and was a proud Presidential Partner and Stampede Club member. Since his passing in 2020, his philanthropic nature lives on at Central because arrangements were made through his estate plans to leave a legacy gift to UCO.
Thanks to his passion for UCO and his appreciation for education, that giving spirit will continue to impact students each year, a cause that was important to him.
“What mattered most to [Coffman],” said Mary Jane Coffman, Coffman’s daughter, “is the relationships – with family and friends and others – that he built from his time attending Central State throughout his life.”