On Thursday, the College announced that Associate Dean Gina Coleman ’90 will leave the deans’ office on Jan. 2 to become the director of education at Hillcrest Educational Centers, which is based in Pittsfield, Mass. Hillcrest Educational Centers works to educate children who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused and has campuses in Pittsfield, Lenox and Great Barrington. Coleman has served on the board of directors for Hillcrest Educational Centers since 2010.
Even after her resignation as dean, Coleman will remain the head coach of women’s rugby and will continue to teach a Winter Study course titled “Residential Treatment Internship in the Berkshires,” which includes an internship at Hillcrest Educational Centers.
Coleman initially assumed her role as the head coach of women’s rugby in 1996 after a rule change required all teams to have a coach certified through USA Rugby. Coleman has served in that capacity for 16 years.
In 1998, Coleman was hired as an associate director of admission for the College, where she served until moving to the deans’ office in 2006. In the Admissions Office, she focused on diversity recruitment and helped lead the charge to bring the QuestBridge program to the College. QuestBridge identifies high-achieving low-income students and matches them with elite institutions such as the College. “I think Questbridge students are amazing and they do fantastic work here,” Coleman said. “They’re an integral part of the community.”
Further, Coleman worked to increase institutional diversity, using her passion for raising early college awareness to underserved populations to increase the College’s population of students of color. “When I started in admissions, the domestic student of color population … was in the low 20 percent,” Coleman said. “When I left to become a dean [in 2006], it was 30 percent. I just had amazing colleagues in the Admissions Office – many of whom have gone on to do some wonderful work around the country and world. I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to work alongside them.”
In 2006, Coleman was named an associate dean of the College. In the deans’ office, Coleman has particularly focused on improving the experience of first-generation students. “There really wasn’t a dean prior to me whose focus was on that population and the struggles that many of those students have navigating a place that is historically a privileged white male institution,” Coleman said. “I’m the first to do this work here, so I guess that’s my stamp. I’ve tried exceptionally hard to do right by that population and all students here.”
In addition, Coleman’s role in the deans’ office has included academic advising, general disciplinary cases and first-year advising. “I’m really thankful for being able to afford many of the students here with support, cheerleading, and a dry shoulder over the past six and a half years,” Coleman said.
While Coleman is leaving the deans’ office, she stressed that she will continue her presence at the College and will maintain her relationship with the students on campus. “I will continue to be a resource and a mentor without the dean title,” Coleman said. “I’m here. I’m still in the community … I’ll continue to do all I can to support the students I’ve been supporting for years.”