Linda Coleman ’78 VSB, associate director for Multicultural Affairs at Villanova University, has been actively involved in VU’s student programs for the past 20 years. Before her current position, she served as the associate director of Affirmative Action for 12 years.
Coleman knew she had a talent and interest for accounting and numbers after she took a book-keeping course in high school. As a senior in high school, she completed a college- level accounting class confirming her interest and leading her to pursue her education at Villanova.
After graduating with a degree in accounting, she worked for Deloitte and earned her CPA. Her career took her to a variety of companies, from DuPont to Air Products, where she moved from working with numbers to people, from financial analyst to human resources EEO/affirmative action officer. Coleman returned to Villanova to continue her interpersonal work with an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) position.
Once back at Villanova, Coleman recognized areas of the community that could be improved. She noticed that students often have challenges outside of academics that they are not comfortable revealing. She felt that students troubled with varying situations such as family and personal finance difficulties could benefit from a support network on campus to help address the discomfort. She teamed up with former associate director of Multicultural Affairs, Nancy C. Lee, to establish “Women of Color.” To help retain students, this scholarship was designed to aid underrepresented women with college expenses. Recipients of the scholarship are nominated based on their involvement in the Villanova community, maintenance of good academic and disciplinary standing, financial need and commitment to service.
The first Villanova Women of Color Scholarship was awarded in 2001 when a luncheon was organized to raise funds for the scholarship, which is now an annual event for the organization. The first year, approximately 15 people attended; in 2015, the luncheon drew 225 attendees! All proceeds from the luncheon go to the Women of Color Scholarship recipients.
Looking ahead, Coleman’s goals for the Women of Color Committee are to become more visible on campus and provide more services to the community. Villanova Women’s Professional Network is looking forward to working with Women of Color Committee on several upcoming joint efforts and co-sponsoring events. By working together, the two groups can increase their audiences and create awareness.
When asked about what advice she would give to others, Coleman suggests that everyone should try experiences outside of their comfort zone. “Such experiences, even though they are uncomfortable at first, lead to personal growth. By taking advantage of opportunities to meet new people, you can discover many commonalities and quite possibly, new passions and interests,” she said.
For information on the Center for Multicultural Affairs: http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/studentlife/multiculturalaffairs.html