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Edward Collymore - Class of 1959
Black Villanova Oral History Project

Dr. Edward Collymore

Class of 1959


Collymore_-_Plane2.jpgDr. Edward Collymore was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge and starred in track and field. After numerous scholarship offers from prestigious colleges and universities in the New England area including Harvard, Collymore wanted to leave New England to pursue his studies and decided on Villanova University. Collymore followed his friend and teammate Charley Jenkins who had graduated from Rindge two years prior to Collymore. In this interview, Collymore talks about the "Boys from Boston" - the collection of student-athletes from the Boston area who all ran track at Villanova.

Collymore lived in Tolentine Hall his freshman year and during this time he switched from the College of Engineering to the College of Commerce and Finance. Ultimately, Collymore would pursue neither business nor engineering as he has a successful career in education. Collymore indicated that the social life for African American students on Villanova's campus was close to non-existent. Black students often traveled to Ardmore and into Philadelphia to socialize on weekends and breaks.

Some of Collymore's fondest memories of Villanova were of his times competing in New York City. Thousands of spectators from Villanova and a loyal following from the New York Pioneer Club would pour into Madison Square Garden to see Collymore and his teammates compete. After the meets, the student-athletes on the track team would frequent a few of the local establishments around the Garden and they were treated like royalty by the throngs of Villanova supporters.

Collymore was selected as an All-American and won numerous individual and team relay awards at the NCAAs, the IC4As and the Penn Relays. He was part of arguably the best collegiate track team in history - the 1957 Villanova team which featured Olympians Charlie Jenkins, Don Bragg, Phil Reavis, Alex Breckenridge and Ireland's Ron Delaney. Collymore's own Olympic dreams were derailed when he was injured his senior year.

After graduation, Collymore served the United States by enlisting in the Marine Corps. Upon the end of his service with the Marines, Collymore was a substitute teacher in Boston and Cambridge, a Casualty Underwriter for Liberty Mutual and then a Juvenile Probation Officer in Cambridge.

In 1969, Collymore was offered a position in the newly-founded Office for Social Action by Villanova University president Father Welsh.  Collymore served Villanova with distinction for 35 years, retiring as the Executive Director of Multicultural Affairs in 2004.

During his time at Villanova, the University experienced a tremendous expansion in both the number of students of color and the programs and services designed to recruit and retain these students. Under his leadership, Collymore oversaw the transformation of the Office of Social Action to Office of Multicultural Affairs which included underrepresented student recruitment and retention, community services programs, international student advisement, and disability student advisement and advocacy. Dr. Collymore also served as the founder and long-time advisor for Villanova's Karate Club.

Dr. Collymore remains active with the Community Action Agency of Delaware County where he serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors.   

 

 

 

Collymore on Decision to Attend Villanova

Collymore talks about his decision to attend Villanova and his decision to major in business.

Collymore on the "Boys from Boston"

Collymore fondly recalls the collection of his track team teammates from Massachusetts who became known as the "Boys from Boston." 

Collymore on Jumbo Elliott

In this section of the interview, Collymore shares his thoughts on legendary coach Jumbo Elliott. 

Collymore on Interaction of White and Black Villanova Students in the 1950s

Collymore describes the interaction between the small number of African American students and white students on Villanova's campus in the 1950s. 

Collymore on Social Life for Black Students at Villanova in 1950s

Collymore discusses the limited social life on campus for black students in the mid-late 1950s.

Collymore on Barber Shop Incident

In this section of the incident Collymore recalls an incident where the campus barber refused to cut the hair of a black Villanova student. Collymore describes the reaction of the Villanova administration. 

Collymore on Racist Incident in Texas during 1957 Outdoor Season

In this section of the interview Collymore describes the racial discrimination faced by black members of the Villanova track team on a trip to Texas in 1957.

Collymore on Fondest Memories at Villanova as a Student

In the first part of this clip Collymore discusses his fondest memories of Villanova which were centered around his experiences on the track team. Collymore then describes his adventures on commencement day.

Collymore on Coming Back to Villanova as an Administrator

Collymore recounts the events which led to him returning to his alma mater as the assistant director of Social Action.

Collymore on the Black Student League's Black Week and Muhammad Ali Speech

Collymore briefly discusses the Black Student League Black Week in 1970 which featured a speech on campus by boxing great Muhammad Ali.

Collymore on Change at Villanova

Collymore discusses the change over time he witnessed at Villanova.

Collymore on his Responsibilities as Director of the Office for Social Action

Collymore details his efforts to establish and expand the efforts of the Office for Social Action when he took over as director in 1970.

Collymore on the Establishment of the Presidential Scholarships for Underrepresented Students

Collymore discusses the conversation he had with the president of Villanova, Father Driscoll, which led to the establishment of the Presidential Scholarships.

Collymore on the Struggles to Establish Affirmative Action

In this section of the interview Collymore elaborates on the struggle to diversify faculty and staff through affirmative action efforts.