Meet Leslie Coates!

Meet Leslie Coates, the Assistant Director for Multicultural Affairs and Student Success (MASS)!

Here at IUP, Leslie is responsible for creating and promoting programs that are intentionally diverse in nature for all students.

Leslie has worked in some capacity here at IUP for 11+ years. When asked what organizations she works with on campus, Leslie listed quite a few: "I am the advisor for the Black Student League.I have recently become the advisor for the Diversity Peer Educators and the Diversity Student Council. But I am open to assist all organizations. Last year we, as MASS, worked with Women in STEM and Math Club to show “Hidden Figures. ”We worked with Pride to bring the Queer Art Showcase. In the Fall we partnered with STATIC to show “Get Out” and this Spring, we came together to show “Wonder Woman” in honor of Women’s history month."

Leslie's favorite part about her work and the most beneficial part of her time here at IUP can be summed up into one word: students. While this may seem like a standard answer I know from working with Leslie that she is 100% student centered and student focused.

I asked Leslie about her favorite memory of IUP and she recalled the time she herself spent here as a student, "As a native of Indiana and alumnae, I lived in the tri-halls, where Ruddock, Delaney and Putt now stand. I made some wonderful lifetime relationship living in the residence halls. As a student, I worked in the Housing Office, Foundations for IUP, and did a brief stint in Aramark Catering."

Recently, Leslie was involved in opening the new multicultural center for students in Elkin named the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement (MCSLE). I asked what the process was like and Leslie explained that "...the process is still evolving.  We have a vision of what we’d like to see the Center become, but it is really up to the students and how they decide to use it.  We hope it becomes a home base for students to just hang out, study, and network."

If you haven't had a chance to explore Elkin since the opening, it is beautiful. The new building has the MCSLE offices, a dance studio for students, and a room for events or meetings to be held


(The lobby of Elkin)


(Elkin Great Room)


(Students in the dance studio of Elkin)


(Office suite in Elkin)

I asked Leslie what her ultimate goal for students at IUP is and she answered perfectly, "I would like students to ultimately find their authentic selves.  I want them to change the world, by being understanding, kind, and willing to have the difficult conversations that need to happen."

We all know that tough days come and Leslie explained that she remembers, "I am so much more than my job.  I am spouse, an aunt, a daughter, a sister and a human to a very active hyper “Silkese” puppy, named “MooShu”. You can see by my list, my family is very important to me."

Receiving advice from mentors is crucial to success, so I jumped at the opportunity to get advice for students who are still finding their footing at IUP. Leslie would tell students to, "Get involved in something, there are so many opportunities available that need that spark, that passion. And if for some reason, a student can’t find an organization that fits their needs, then create it.  Someone else is looking for it as well."

I asked Leslie to share her favorite quote and she responded with her all-time favorite and her new favorite.

All-time favorite: “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

New favorite: "Shine with all you have. When someone tries to blow you out, just take their oxygen and burn brighter." Katelyn S. Irons

Leslie is one of those people who welcomes everyone with open arms. She is kind and considerate and willing to help anyone in need. She is also seriously funny. If you have never had the pleasure to work with her or even meet her, I recommend finding a way to do so, it is something that you will not regret.


All photos by Kate Marodi