1902-1908: John Hamline Coleman

John Hamline Coleman

John Coleman was born in Northampton, New York, in 1847. Educated at the Montpelier Seminary in Vermont, Coleman also received honorary degrees from both Syracuse and Nebraska Wesleyan. Coleman was 55 years of age when he was appointed to the office of president on February 11, 1902. He was described as a “handsome man of commanding presence, possessing a winsome personality which immediately won for him loyalty from both the students and faculty.” Coleman had the task of liquidating $35,000 worth of debt and then initiating a campaign to raise a $100,000 endowment fund. Although $35,000 was pledged a little over a year, Coleman toiled for all six years of his presidency to collect the money. Securing a new academic building was also on Coleman’s list. He even sought funding from Andrew Carnegie in the amount of $40,000 only to be turned down and informed that Willamette “may be a university in embryo, but it certainly does not seem to be yet a university.” He resigned on February 18, 1908, following a growing difference of opinion with the Board of Trustees. Coleman had maintained an active membership in the New York-based Troy Conference of the M.E. Church so, after leaving WU, he returned to administrative work with the Methodist church. Coleman died on October 20, 1914.