Campus News

Howard Alumnus to Honor Late Wife with Scholarship Fund

James Coleman earmarked an endowed scholarship valued at $3 million in memory of his wife, Cathy Coleman.

by Kelvin Childs
The Colemans

For James Coleman (BS ’83) and his late wife, Cathy Coleman (BS ’84), Bison blue truly runs through them: The two met at Howard, they were wed in the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel in 1984, and her celebration of life was in Dunbarton Chapel at the School of Law in 2021. 

Their ties to Howard inspired Coleman to earmark an endowed scholarship in her honor for future students. 

Coleman included the University as a beneficiary of his charitable account with Charles Schwab Corp., currently valued at $3 million. This future gift will be used to establish the Cathy and James Coleman Scholarship Fund to support undergraduate students at Howard with financial need. The Schwab account will also endow scholarships at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. 

The Colemans at their wedding
The Colemans on their wedding day at Rankin Chapel.

Coleman says he wants to help young Black students achieve their education. “So, I want to have Cathy and my resources allocated toward helping them to be able tap into what we enjoyed, which is a great college education, which helped to accelerate our careers, which helped us to build wealth and do good work for others.” 

He met Cathy Clash when they both attended Howard in the 1980s, and they were married for 36 years until her death in 2020. She was initiated into the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and graduated Howard with honors in chemical engineering.  

Both Colemans were active in the Howard University Westchester and Rockland County Alumni Club in New York; he was a past president, and she chaired Charter Day luncheons and other events.  

Cathy Coleman’s professional career included stints at Dow Chemical Co., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and 30 years at Oracle Corp. She also earned a master’s degree with honors in polymer sciences from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1985 and a master’s degree with honors in business from the University of Michigan in 1992. 

After her death, James Coleman relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, to revive Coleman Crest Farm, his family’s business. Coleman has been an economic development executive for Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Westchester County, New York, and was chief of staff for New York State Sen. Greg Ball. Coleman also is author of “Cut the Crap and Close the Gap: The Urgency of Delivering Desired Results” and is a candidate for the Kentucky House of Representatives.  

With the scholarships, Coleman said, “Cathy and I can make an impact with students for the next 100-plus years.” 

This story appears in the Spring/ Summer 2022 issue.

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