It has been a week of hugs and tearful goodbyes.
Todd Coleman, Wartburg’s assistant vice president of Admissions, has coasted through the mixed emotions of the last couple of weeks, and is getting ready for his last day on the job.
Ever since he announced, on June 3, that he had accepted the position of assistant VP for Admissions at Jacksonville University in Florida, words and notes of appreciation from colleagues and families have had him choked up a couple of times, but on Friday, it will finally start to sink in.
When he came to Wartburg in 2006, as the director of Alumni Affairs at the college, a job that eventually blended with assistant VP for Admissions, and then transformed into its own entity again, Coleman knew that the college and the community will forever be woven into his family history.
As he leaves both Wartburg and Waverly after 13 years, he says the experience had a profound impact on him as an administrator and on his family,
His two children, Connor and Courtney, were the beneficiaries of the excellence of the Waverly-Shell Rock School District, and his wife, Kim, worked at Rada Manufacturing, where she enjoyed the family atmosphere of a local business that has served the community for generations.
Coleman is quick to deflect any praise, which colleagues and families so deservedly dish out when they list his contributions.
“You left a strong mark on Wartburg and all those Admissions students you have mentored and believed in over the years,” Britney Ross, a former student, wrote in response to his Facebook post announcing the decision.
Bill Withers, a former Wartburg professor who is now the executive of campus network and development at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, said he is saddened to see a “dear friend head south.”
“Todd’s shoes will be a bit harder to fill than some of the other recent departures,” Withers told Waverly Newspapers. “He had such a tremendous decade-plus impact on what Wartburg is today.”
There is no doubt that Coleman had left a mark on campus and beyond.
“Todd has faithfully served Wartburg for 13 years,” said Edith Waldstein, vice president for Enrollment Management and Coleman’s supervisor. “Todd has built an incredible admissions team and brought thousands of new students to Wartburg during his tenure.
“We’ll miss him and wish him the very best in his next venture.”
A sign on Coleman’s office glass wall sports a small poster with his picture and the question, “Where in the world is Todd Coleman?” a reference to his overseas recruitment efforts.
“No one does anything in a vacuum,” he told Waverly Newspapers on Monday. “I surrounded myself with a great staff and so many wonderful people that love the institution.”
He said that among the many memorable moments he will cherish forever are the capital campaign started under former President Jack Ohle, which continued under the leadership of President Dr. Darrel Colson; the renovation of Clinton Hall; the opening of The W; the success of the women’s basketball team, going to the Final Four twice in three years, along with the victories of the college sports teams; as well as the performances of the Wartburg Music ensembles all over the world.
In terms of community involvement, Coleman served as the president of the Waverly Chamber of Commerce, and was part of the team that brought Travis Toliver into town as director.
“Todd Coleman was an instrumental part of the town and gown relationship enjoyed by both Waverly and Wartburg College,” Toliver said. “As the 2014 Chamber/Main Street Board Chair, Todd helped lead our organization through a transition of internal leadership as well as helping to bring back the Chamber’s highly successful education program, Project Lead. Todd’s absence will be felt both on and off campus by many.”
Coleman also enjoyed being a part of a uniquely Iowa experience, the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, which last overnighted in Waverly in 2014.
Coleman said he is not going to Florida as a complete stranger. His son earned both his undergraduate and most recently, his graduate degree from Jacksonville, making him the father of a “double Dolphin.”
Coleman said he will miss Waverly.
“Waverly is a wonderful place and Wartburg is a great institution and they make great partners,” he told Waverly Newspapers. “It has been a pleasure to be involved with both. The community and the college will always be a part of who we are as a family. I know that I will be hard pressed to ever work for an institution that is so committed to its mission as Wartburg College.”