Alumni Spotlight

Jonathan Coleman, ’05

By: Michelle Goff
July 08, 2016

When Jonathan Coleman chose to attend Pikeville College (the University of Pikeville), he hoped to receive one-on-one attention from professors. He probably had no idea how exact his expectations would turn out to be.

“It was just me and Professor of History Steve Budney in my historiography class,” recalls Coleman, who majored in history and political science at UPIKE. “I had to be prepared because there was no one else in the class to take up the slack.”

Although Coleman’s other classes weren’t quite that small, he credits access to professors with helping him lay the groundwork for academic success.

“Nancy Cade’s influence on me was huge,” Coleman says of the chair of UPIKE’s division of social science. “The department was so small that if you studied British history, it was just her teaching the classes. When I began graduate school, the seminars were rigorous. You have to be extraordinarily well-read to keep up. I found myself really catching on. I had a solid foundation, thanks to Nancy.”

Coleman, a native of Belfry, Ky., was also among the first UPIKE students to participate in The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.

“I went to Washington in 2004 and 2005 for the three-part seminar,” Coleman explains. “It was during the presidential primaries and we got to pick a convention to attend. I picked the Republican convention in New York City. I went back to Washington the next year for the presidential inauguration.”

After graduating in 2005, Coleman taught school for a year before taking a position as a UPIKE admissions counselor. He then received the James Still Fellowship for Graduate Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Kentucky where he would go on to earn a master’s degree, in 2010, and a Ph.D., in 2014.

“I had a dilemma about whether to do academic or public history, which takes history out into the street.” Coleman laughs and adds, “I took taking it into the street literally.”

Indeed, he gives walking tours every Saturday as part of Dr. Coleman’s Lexington History Walks.

“The tours started as an accident when I was in graduate school,” Coleman says. “A friend and his family were visiting Lexington and I gave them a tour. After that, it snowballed. The tour guide is my alter ego, Dr. Coleman. It’s the only time I use the title. He’s a bit more rakish than I am in person. He thinks he’s the be all end all of Lexington history.”

Coleman also gives private walking tours during the week and serves as curator for the Mary Todd Lincoln House.

“That’s my day job,” he says. “I’m in charge of the collections and items that belonged to the Todd family. I help develop the interpretation of the museum and inquire about additional collections.”

In addition to those pursuits, Coleman teaches modern European history and gender and women’s studies as an adjunct professor at UK.

He also keeps in touch with his former UPIKE professors.

“I have lunch with Nancy once a year,” Coleman says. “Brigitte Anderson (chair of the division of humanities) came up and we had dinner on her birthday. I’m definitely glad I made the decision to attend Pikeville College.”

There has never been a better time to be a UPIKE Bear! APPLY NOW
UPike Tigers