BENNINGTON -- Bennington College recently announced the establishment of the Dr. Elizabeth Coleman Visionary Leadership Award, a $5,000 monetary award honoring Dr. Elizabeth Coleman -- Bennington College's ninth president, who stepped down last June after 25 years in the position.

According to a release distributed by the college, the award, which is sponsored by parents of a Bennington College alumna from the class of 2000, will recognize a distinguished Bennington alumna or alumnus, faculty or staff member, or an individual from the larger Bennington community, whose innovative and inspirational leadership in the nonprofit or for-profit sector has supported civic or cultural issues and improved the lives of others.

A board made up of college faculty and staff, who will be overseeing applicants for the award, hopes the recipient will be a well-rounded, engaged citizen, willing to and unafraid of taking risks.

"To be associated with an award that recognizes visionary leaders who have touched -- and been touched by -- this thought-leading institution, is an extraordinary honor," Coleman said in the release. "I'll look forward each year to celebrating its recipient."

The award will be announced each February, per the release, as an unexpected honor at the college's annual Senior Conference -- an event during which time students network with successful leaders affiliated with Bennington College.

In addition to the award, the college's board of trustees has also re-named Bennington College's Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) to The Elizabeth Coleman Center for the Advancement of Public Action.

According to the release, Coleman currently serves as the center's inaugural director.

The trustees have also established The Elizabeth Coleman Venture Fund, with help from a group of donors.

According to the release, this permanent revolving fund, totaling $1.2 million, and administered by Bennington College's current president, Mariko Silver, "will support highly leveraged, promising experiments that further Bennington's mission, reach, and reputation."

Board Chair Alan Kornberg said the venture fund, while certainly "no substitution for a great idea proposed by a talented person, would "fuel the great Bennington adventure for years to come."

Residents of the larger Bennington area who would like to anonymously nominate a potential Dr. Elizabeth Coleman Visionary Leadership Award recipient are invited to complete a nomination form, the link to which can be found on Bennington College's website,

Questions may be directed to Michaela Levin at or by calling (802) 440-4893. All nominations must be received by Dec. 15.