Late Myrna Raffkind to Be Memorialized with New WT Professorship in Education

Chip Chandler May 04, 2022
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Late Myrna Raffkind to Be Memorialized with New WT Professorship in Education

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CANYON, Texas — A professorship honoring a former West Texas A&M University instructor and alumna will enhance WT’s ability to prepare students to become international citizens.

The Myrna Raffkind Professorship of Global Education has been established following a $125,000 gift from private donors in memory of Raffkind, a community activist and educator who died in 2017.

Raffkind, a Tulsa native who was married for more than 50 years to Amarillo businessman Daniel Raffkind, earned master’s degrees in psychology and sociology at WT and served as an instructor in both disciplines from 1985 to 1998. She was named instructor emerita in 2009.

“My mother was equally known for her philanthropy, her heart and a penchant for persuading people to pursue higher education as well as inspiring others to volunteer,” eldest daughter Heidi van Zanten said.

Raffkind also was passionate about diversity, inclusion and equity, said Dr. Eddie Henderson, dean of WT’s Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences.

Henderson, who also teaches classes in the College, will be the first professor named to the position.

“Myrna was strongly supportive of initiatives that broaden the perspectives and cultural awareness of our students,” Henderson said. “Her efforts—personal and professional—were consistently directed to empowering through education those who are underrepresented. I know that Myrna would have been gratified by the establishment of a professorship in her name, and I am honored to have been selected to fill the position.”

The endowment will support the Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences’ Go Global initiative, established in 2003 by Henderson and Dr. Angela Spaulding, vice president for research and compliance and dean of the Graduate School.

Go Global—which has won state, national and international recognition—connects graduate and undergraduate course content with the development of cultural knowledge and cross-cultural understanding, offering students short-term, faculty-directed experiential learning in international settings.

“Myrna was very well respected on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “She was a wonderful person who genuinely cared about people from diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds. Her legacy will live on through this professorship.”

Raffkind was an advocate for organizations such as Coalition for the Homeless, Martha’s Home, Los Barrios de Amarillo, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition, and Family Support Services, educating the public about those in need and what could be done to alleviate those needs.

Among many honors, she was named Amarillo Globe-News Woman of the Year in 2010, and won the Amarillo NAACP’s Dr. R.W. Jones Freedom Fund Achievement Award, the Amarillo Women’s Network Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Association of Social Workers’ Public Citizen of the Year.

As set out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, WT serves as a Regional Research University, finding insights and solutions that serve its region and can transfer to similar regions around the globe.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised about $110 million.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.