Meeting Heather Coltman


SUMMARY: JMU's chief academic officer brings a background in the performing arts and a passion for higher education and learning to the position.

from the December 2017 digital issue of Madison

By Renée Rocco

An accomplished musician, educator and administrator, Heather Coltman has brought her knowledge and passion for higher education to JMU as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

“Being provost is an awesome responsibility,” Coltman says, “but it’s also a privilege to be able to work closely with so many faculty who are so skilled and so dedicated to what they do.”

Coltman succeeded Jerry Benson, who retired in June after 37 years in various teaching and leadership roles at JMU.

A native of Zambia, Coltman immigrated to the United States in 1966. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in music from Mannes College of Music in New York. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas, and since then has performed, taught and lectured across five continents.

Before coming to JMU, Coltman worked in administration at Florida Atlantic University for 14 years, including five years as dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.

From the moment she stepped on the JMU campus, Coltman felt a sense of community. “My first impressions of JMU were like everybody’s; it’s the most beautiful campus in the country. But, of course, then you meet the people, and they are some of the kindest, most thoughtful, most serious and committed people that you find in higher education.”

JMU President Jonathan Alger says Coltman’s experience, skills and knowledge align with the university’s vision for a diverse community where students reap the benefits of engaged learning, civic engagement and community engagement.

“Every single day I have an adventure,” she says. “The most exciting thing is learning, having the ability to learn and getting to know this particular community.”

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017

Last Updated: Monday, February 19, 2018

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