Changed your email address? Moved recently? Help us stay in touch with you!
Click here to update!
Make a contribution to the university that shaped your future. Click to give back.
Have exciting alumni news? Story ideas? Photos from a JMU event? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawson Ricketts ('05) lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was on safari — "literally, in the middle of the African bush, tracking elephants" — when he spotted a JMU lanyard belonging to another Madison graduate. Betsy Hang ('07) flew to London the day JMU football defeated Virginia Tech. She landed at Heathrow Airport and the first person she passed in the terminal saw her JMU sweatshirt and said "Go Dukes."
Serendipity is everywhere, as Ricketts and Hang can attest. The JMU Alumni Association seeks to turn it into something more concrete by connecting alumni with their alma mater, supporting students and strengthening the future of the institution through collaborative partnerships. Explore the JMU Alumni Association's latest strategic plan for more information.
At the most basic level, the association strives to create and foster meaningful opportunities for alumni worldwide to serve JMU, connect with the university and engage with students and fellow graduates.
Supporting alumni volunteers and increasing participation in JMU events worldwide are two ways to accomplish these goals. A few weeks after his chance encounter in the Madikwe Game Reserve, Ricketts received an email from the JMU Alumni Association about The Big Event. He worked with the JMU Alumni Association and hosted a local volunteer project at a boy's orphanage.
The Big Event brings hundreds of alumni throughout the world together for a day of community service. Other events, like reunions, are hosted year-round, mainly on Homecoming Weekend and in late April to help reignite connections between alumni and their alma mater.
Some opportunities for alumni involvement mirror the student experience, with programs like JMU Leaders of Volunteer Engagement (LOVE) providing ad hoc volunteer projects to graduates — like representing JMU at an admissions fair or helping with resume reviews. These provide alumni meaningful ways "to remain engaged in a way outside of traditional avenues," said Duke Club member and JMU LOVE volunteer Jon McNamara ('05).
Fostering relationships among students and building a lifelong commitment to JMU are among the newest initiatives being implemented in the latest strategic plan. The launching of the Student Alumni Association, a philanthropic organization of student donors, provides opportunities for connections between JMU alumni and students.
"Intergenerational learning is such an important part of the JMU experience," JMU President Jonathan Alger said at the 2013 Legacy Picnic. "And legacies are wonderful examples of that intergenerational connection, because they've been living it all their lives."
That's most evident in long-standing alumni events. In 1912, the second graduating class at the Normal School held an alumnae candle lighting ceremony, a tradition that still takes place today. This past April, members of the Class of 1963 participated in the ceremony with 2013 graduates, a unique moment celebrating the bond between JMU alumni of all ages.
Legacy programming and intergenerational connections are two ways to support current students. Another is growing philanthropy at JMU. The idea is that alumni can be tremendous ambassadors for JMU and inspire investment in Madison's future.
The alumni association board of directors announced a $100,000 lead gift to the Madison Forever Vision Fund at Alger's March 2013 inauguration. The alumni office and the annual giving office have paired to launch a giving challenge among alumni association chapters across the country. Partnerships with Liberty Mutual, Capital One and the Maryland and Virginia DMV provide alumni with discounted services, ways to show off their JMU pride, and funding for scholarships and programs.
And, of course, alumni awards recognize graduates for notable achievements.
"Does Madison matter to the state or nation? Undeniably," writes Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and 2012 Ronald E. Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipient Jeff Gammage ('82). "Its grads run corporations, discover new animals, forge paths in science, lead armies, write novels -- and those are just the people we hear about."
Extending the reach of the alumni association — and by extension, the university, begins with building lasting partnerships at the institution. It leads to opportunities for a well-rounded alumni experience.
It is through a combination of giving, volunteerism and mentoring that alumni like Gammage have found balance in their involvement with JMU — and have strengthened the reputation of the institution. So the JMUAA partners often with university communications to share stories of alumni success, and with the career and academic planning office to expand career-related programming.
And a 2013 sponsorship with athletics has resulted in the JMU Alumni Association becoming the presenting partner of MadiZONE broadcasts, which helps bring JMU sports to fans and alumni around the world.
Want more alumni information? Receive event, news and media features every month by subscribing to Madison Update, the official alumni eNewsletter of James Madison University.