Time at Western Michigan University: 1975-79
Mark’s dynamic personality and his love for WMU were evident in his time as an undergraduate student. In 1978, George Strand, the President of the WMU Associated Student Government (ASG), appointed him to be Vice-President of Academics. He stepped into this role proudly and it became his primary interest on campus. During the late 1970s, Mark and the ASG were striving for more student involvement on campus. When the Iranian crisis occurred, several WMU Iranian students experienced financial difficulties. He met with administration to extend the tuition payment deadline for these students. The Western Herald has many articles regarding Mark’s adamant remarks that WMU should stand behind its students and support those in need.
Another ASG project he was particularly concerned with involved political science and students receiving credit for working on a political campaign. Together with the ASG, he worked with administrators to award academic credit for campaign work. Many campus campaign organizers, including Mark, had interned with elected politicians. In 1977, Mark interned with Michigan Representative Mary Brown for which he received academic credit. However, when he ran her campus campaign the following year he did not. Similar to experience based internships, overseeing the campus campaign required long hours, supervisory skills, and flexibility. Students had to locate their own internships and faculty sponsor in order for independent study/credit to be granted. In 1978, the combined efforts were successful and the political science students received credit for their supervisory work on campus campaigns.
In the 1970s, the Public Administration program was still offered through the Department of Political Science. He developed many friendships with faculty including Drs. Houghton, Blough, Plano, Renstrom and many more. He enjoyed his political science courses which inspired his passion to earn a public administration degree. He was well liked by his professors and often engaged in conversations about current events with them. The department left a big impression on Mark and he carried it with him for the rest of his life.
After graduation in 1979, he continued his education at Denver University where he received his MA (1985). He was employed with Kinzley-Hughes, a public relations, advertising, and research organization in Denver at the time of his death in 1985. His employer established the Mark S. Denenfeld Internship and Scholarship Program for a University of Denver Mass Communication graduate student and planted trees in his honor at James Bible Park in Denver.
His family was supportive of all of his accomplishments. Mark was the son of Philip Denenfeld, Vice President of Academic Affairs at WMU. After Mark’s untimely death, a tree was planted near The Oaklands in his memory. His father gave the dedication speech amongst a group of friends, professors, and family. His family established the Mark Denenfeld Memorial Endowed Scholarship in his honor.
The Mark Denenfeld Memorial Endowed Scholarship is an annual award for a political science major beginning their senior year. This student must be able to demonstrate superior academic performance and have a record of community service.