John R. Coleman, who became a national folk hero while president of Haverford College and well-known for his book Blue-Collar Journal, died on Sept. 6 in Washington at the age of 95 after battling Parkinson’s, writes William Grimes for The New York Times.
Coleman was appointed president of Haverford College in 1967, becoming the institution’s first non-Quaker leader. He emerged as a strong liberal voice, in particular for his opposition to the Vietnam War.
He was also a proponent of the pivotal student proposal that Haverford start accepting women. However, the proximity of Bryn Mawr, a women’s college, raised fears of a drop in enrollment. When the college agreed to admit women only as transfer students, Coleman resigned. Three years later, it became co-ed.
His popular book Blue-Collar Journal, published in 1974, was based on his days of working incognito, while still at Haverford, as a farm laborer, ditch digger, garbage man, and cook.
After Haverford, Coleman became president of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and later served as a justice of the peace.
Read more about Coleman’s legacy in The New York Times by clicking here.