Friday, September 16, 2016

Flyer Friday: Kathleen Bolden ’71


Kathleen Bolden ’71 dedicated much of her life and career to Lewis University after graduation. A pioneering African American student who went back to school as a second career, Kathleen worked at Lewis in many capacities. According to Kathleen, her goal was, “to make a difference, to be a good mother, not only to my own children, but to any child who needs me.” Kathleen was a mother figure for hundreds of Lewis students and considered them her extended family.

In 1968, Kathleen Bolden, a 30-year-old wife and mother of three young children, made the decision to earn her college degree, and went on to earn a B.A. in 1971 from Lewis University and a M.A. in 1972 from Governor’s State University. Kathleen joined the Lewis staff in 1971 as Assistant Dean of Students. During her 10 years at Lewis, she held several positions including Adjunct Faculty Member, Director of the College Success Program and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.

Kathleen believed deeply in freedom, justice and equality for all, and was a strong believer in having convictions. During her tenure, she consistently demonstrated to students and administration alike her belief that there lives a leader in each person, and it is only a matter of time until that ability would be tested. A member of the University during turbulent times in both the community and the nation, Kathleen strived to create a more diverse campus population while leading the local community as a civil rights activist.

“Her infectious leadership and efforts in recruiting and working with minority students to ensure their graduation and success beyond Lewis was simply amazing. She was fiercely loyal and completely committed,” says her son, A. Scott Bolden.

A community organizer and civil rights activist, Kathleen Bolden founded the Warren-Sharpe Community Center to support and empower at-risk youth and their families. She fought for social justice and equal opportunity for all. As a defender of the poor and the powerless, Kathleen understood social inequities based on race, gender and economics and was available to help anyone, regardless of their background. Her campaigns for peace and justice continued until her untimely death at age 57.

Continuing the Cause Through Scholarships

In honor of her dynamic character, strong beliefs, and commitment to the University, Kathleen was awarded the Trailblazer Award in 2011. Kathleen was one of four African American pioneers in the Lewis Community - along with Dr. Charles Kennedy, Elmer Sims and Charles Jones - recognized through the Trailblazer Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship honors the legacy of our Trailblazers and supports African American students at Lewis University in good academic standing with financial need who demonstrate a commitment to their community.

In addition, her son A. Scott Bolden, along with other family, established the Kathleen Bolden Memorial Scholarship. “The scholarship our family has created in her name hopes to continue to support not only her efforts with minority students, but also her legacy of leadership, her community activism, and her fight for civil rights.”

The Story Lives On

Kay Bolden, her daughter, penned the book She Lives In You! The Kathleen Bolden Story, which was celebrated by the Lewis University community in 2014. The book describes in more detail the life story of this incredible woman.

Kay will serve as our keynote speaker at this year’s Celebrating Women in Leadership Conference on Friday, October 7, 2016. Learn more and register online for this one-day campus conference for alumnae!


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