Meet Our Donors

Michelle Grossman Coleman ’89

Michelle Grossman Coleman ’89

The Coleman family gathers to celebrate Hannah and the Class of 2022.

Michelle Grossman Coleman ’89 has a text thread for her friends from Gamma Phi Beta. They remain close because they grew up together on South Mountain.

Together, they survived late-night study sessions and relished the Lehigh traditions—the Lehigh Lafayette games, Greeker eating contest and bed races when they stood on the roofs and porches of fraternity houses as beds flew down the hill ... or beds flew apart ... or racers flew off.

“As a parent of a Lehigh student now, when I think back on my experience, my stomach can turn a bit, but I truly appreciate those days,” she says. “We had the ability to be that age and combine the innocence and fun of being a college kid. Today’s students are so focused on their resumes, grade point averages and careers. Their ambition is commendable. But I have many smart and successful friends from Lehigh who, as I look back, balanced learning, silliness and adventure.”

Coleman understands the power of the Lehigh experience. As an international relations major with minors in Spanish and journalism, she blended her passions together and applied them.

As a new graduate, she was teaching history at a private school and building curriculum for a unit on the Soviet Union. But then the Berlin Wall fell, and she had to rewrite the entire lesson plan.

“My background in international relations helped,” she says.

While she taught and tutored for a number of years, her children became her focus—two daughters and a son. When her son was in first grade, she didn’t accept the rationale for why he wasn’t reading yet, knowing that he was grasping reading concepts well beyond his years.

Her son’s dyslexia diagnosis altered the course of her life as she served on boards at a variety of education nonprofits.

“My children had access to advocates and tutors, and we wanted that for everyone,” she says.

She and her husband Tom met with the leader at Lehigh’s Disability Support Services (DSS) and saw an opportunity to make an impact for students who could benefit from additional support at a crucial moment in their lives.

“As students transition from high school and home lives to independence at college, the adjustment, for some, can be overwhelming, especially if they have a neurodiversity issue, like dyslexia, ADHD or autism,” she says. “Now is when students need access to services so they can understand their differences, communicate those differences and receive accommodations.”

The self-confidence they can gain through success is dramatic. She saw this firsthand when her daughter Hannah Coleman ’22 served on the executive board and as a peer mentor at DSS.

“Having an advocate on campus is important, a person who understands what a student is experiencing and models what success looks like as an athlete, artist and scholar,” she says.

She and Tom made a gift to establish the Michelle G. Coleman ’89 and Thomas J. Coleman Learning Disability Support Services Endowment Fund, so they can create an impact forever.

“We are committed to Lehigh and want support there for others to rely on when resources are needed,” she says. “Is it as sexy as a name on a building, entrepreneurial program or business school? No. But the focus of our gift has deep meaning for me and my family.”

Like the Colemans, you too can ensure your values and passion for Lehigh University continue after your lifetime with an endowed gift to the university. Please contact the Office of Planned Giving at (610) 758-4749 and to learn more.

By Stephen Wilson

Lehigh University Donor Michelle Grossman Coleman ’89