In 1977, Dr. John B. Coleman, a Houston, Texas physician, became the first African-American appointed to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. An advocate of higher education, Dr. Coleman was a staunch supporter of Prairie View A&M University and was instrumental in Prairie View receiving a share of the Permanent University Fund, which had previously only been distributed to Texas A&M at College Station, and the University of Texas at Austin. In recognition of his long service to the Texas A&M University System Board and support for higher education at traditionally Black Universities in Texas, the Board of Regents voted on July 22, 1988 to name Prairie View’s “new” five-story Library in honor of Dr. John B. Coleman.
Dr. Coleman cut the ribbon to the new Library bearing his name before hundreds of guests at Prairie View A&M University, on November 13, 1988. On that occasion, Coleman was honored during a homecoming convocation for his contributions to Prairie View, Texas A&M, and to higher education. A portrait of Coleman was commissioned to be hung inside the main foyer of the Library. Texas State Senator Craig Washington, a 1966 Prairie View graduate, praised the work of Coleman as he gave the convocation address, and stated: “We know without your leadership, Prairie View would not be what it is today.” Other dignitaries applauding Coleman, included Dr. Percy Pierre, then President of Prairie View, former regent Joe Richardson, and A&M chancellor Perry Adkisson. In his remarks of appreciation, Coleman stated: “I am here to pledge to you I intend to contribute the rest of my life to higher education and this institution in particular.”
A graduate of Jack Yates High School in Houston, Fisk University in Nashville, TN, and Howard University School of Medicine. After medical school, Dr. Coleman returned to Houston and entered private practice in 1962. He eventually became Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Riverside General Hospital. During his long career, Dr. Coleman was a force in Houston politics, and served as Chair of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Houston Division. He was Owner and President of the Cullen Women’s Center, President of Almeda Square Medical Group, and President and Board Chair of KCOH in Houston. He also served as an advisory board member for the Texas A&M School of Medicine, the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Texas Southern University, Huston-Tillotson College, and the Houston Area Alliance of Black School Educators. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of Entex Gas, Inc., the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, the South Central YMCA, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
Dr Coleman’s contributions to the City of Houston were so widespread that the City of Houston, the State of Texas and Fisk University saluted him with a special celebration at the Shamrock Hotel in 1981. The steering committee included community, political and business leaders from throughout the city and state. His life was dedicated to serving the Houston community through his many leadership roles as physician, public servant, and humanitarian.