Heather Coltman named JMU provost

JMU News

by Caitlyn Read

Heather Coltman

Dr. Heather Coltman, the current dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University, will serve as the next provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at James Madison University, effective July 1, 2017.

A solo and collaborative concert pianist with more than 30 years of experience as a music educator, Coltman has worked in academic administration at FAU for the past 14 years. For the past five years, she has served as dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, a large college of 10 departments in the arts, humanities and social sciences as well as numerous interdisciplinary programs.

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

“Coltman has demonstrated a decades-long dedication to creating and sustaining a culture of inclusion and opportunity, and a real willingness to embrace and enhance diverse voices and perspectives,” said Alger. “This experience, coupled with her distinguished record of academic leadership and commitment to scholarship, learning and service, absolutely make her the right person for this role. She received broad support from our university community during the interview process, including faculty, and was widely praised for her communication and interpersonal skills.”

Alger added that Coltman will bring to campus a deep expertise on a variety of student success initiatives and programs, and has worked tirelessly to prioritize student engagement. He also noted her work in developing collaborative, broad and interdisciplinary approaches to the changing nature of intellectual inquiry, as well as her commitment to the continuing relevance and importance of the liberal arts in the 21st century.

Coltman said, “I am deeply humbled and honored to be selected as JMU’s next provost. The university’s remarkable upward ascent in reputation over the last decade is clear evidence that Madison has it right. In fact, I felt an immediate sense of warmth and community when I visited campus, and the university’s dedication to student development and engagement is palpable. I look forward to serving in this important role, and working with such outstanding colleagues.”

As dean at FAU, Coltman participated in many initiatives, leading two platforms of FAU’s strategic plan, “Peace, Justice and Human Rights” and “South Florida Culture: The Region as an International Hub for Arts and Humanities.” Coltman also was a member of the Academic Leadership Team, the Council of Deans, the executive task force that received a perfect accreditation score from SACS and the Title IX Coordination Committee.

Coltman is a native of Zambia, and immigrated to the United States in 1966. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, 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, and is featured on numerous critically acclaimed compact disc recordings as a solo and collaborative concert pianist.

The Provost Search Committee, chaired by Dr. Mark Warner, senior vice president for student affairs, thanks the university community for its ongoing input and participation throughout this process. The university community is also deeply indebted to its current provost, Dr. A. Jerry Benson, for his service to the university over the last 36 years and wishes him the best in his impending retirement.

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Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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