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Life, in many ways, is defined by the development of connections. How does one person make an impact on another? How do people bring about change? How does something get started? Who will lead the charge into tomorrow?
In March of 1908, the Virginia General Assembly passed an appropriations bill that would provide $50,000 for the establishment of a new Normal School in Harrisonburg. Educators, builders, administrators and policy makers banded together and the first steps were taken to create a school unlike any other — a place of higher education with an emphasis on student involvement, on real-world problem solving, and on building graduates ready to change the world.
More than 100 years later, James Madison University stands as one of the country’s finest comprehensive institutions — one that places a heavy emphasis on social responsibility. Now, 100 years after the school’s first graduates received their degrees, and 100 days before the JMU Alumni Association will celebrate its centennial on Homecoming weekend, we pay tribute to some notable alumni who have taken their Madison Experience and used it to change the world for the better.
Join JMU graduate Gabrielle Piccininni ('11) and The JMU Alumni Association as they share the stories of people who embody Madison Spirit.
Today we celebrate 100 years of Madison alumni — 100 years of educators, policy makers, artists, scientists, business leaders and world changers. But more important than the title on each degree is the name of the university that awarded it. That name binds us together, and it makes us members of the Madison Family for life.
For the past 100 days we have recognized a snapshot of alumni who hold true to the Madison Spirit. We honored the people who helped construct JMU and those who supported its growth. There also are a few special members of the Madison family who have been recognized as honorary alumni.
Dr. Ronald E. Carrier (’98H) — the university’s fourth president — is a man with incredible vision. Dr. Carrier presided over JMU’s largest period of growth, overseeing the transformation of 4,000-student Madison College into 14,000-student James Madison University from 1971-1998. Carrier’s determination to grow athletics, academics and student services enabled JMU to erupt into a major player in higher education.
One of Carrier’s eyebrow-raising decisions was the move to launch a football program at Madison College, which leads us to Dr. Challace McMillin (’03H) — the namesake of the athletic program’s academic center and the university’s center for sports psychology. McMillin was Madison’s first football coach and is a 1994 JMU Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.
McMillin’s Dukes grew into a formidable program because of Carrier’s drive and — in no small part — thanks to the financial gifts of the late Zane D. Showker (’03H), after whom Showker Hall and Showker Field (at Bridgeforth Stadium) are named. And two of JMU football’s most passionate fans? The late Inez Roop (’35) and her husband, honorary alumnus No. 4, the late Ralph Roop (’05H).
When we kicked off this campaign 100 days ago — fittingly with a profile of Inez — we told you that life was about the connection of people. In this case, it’s about the connection of 100 years worth of people — of alumni who embody the Madison Spirit and ensure that the next century of JMU Alumni will build on the success of the first.
On this, the day we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the JMU Alumni Association, we thank you for following us on this extraordinary ride.
Learn more about Ralph Roop, Ronald Carrier, Zane Showker and Challace McMillin. And for more great JMU stories, visit the university’s Be The Change page. Thanks to the staff at JMU Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs — especially those at Madison Magazine and Be the Change — for assisting us in creating '100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Dukes.' And a very special thanks to our wonderful JMU Alumni, who — through their tireless efforts to change the world — provided us with more inspiration than we thought possible.
In the past 85 years, 10 members of the Dingledine family have attended JMU, leaving an indelible mark on the formation, direction and character of the institution. Founded on the principles of community involvement and dedication to others, JMU has a great tradition of active volunteerism — a tradition that continues to thrive thanks to Madison’s unofficial “First Family.”
William Johnston Dingledine is considered one of the founding fathers of JMU. He lobbied the Virginia legislature to create a teacher's training facility — the Harrisonburg State Normal and Industrial School for women. His son Raymond C. Dingledine Sr. joined the faculty in 1915.
Raymond’s wife, Agness Stribling Dingledine, became part of the faculty two years later as its youngest member. Agness, affectionately known as “Mama Ding,” was the first president of the Student Government Association and later served the school as a sorority house mother and Secretary of the Alumni Association. Together, Raymond and Agness founded the school’s first scholarship in 1919 — a $10 prize for the best senior essay, which, at the time, was equivalent to a week’s pay.
Raymond C. Dingledine Jr. followed in a similar path. After serving in the Air Force during WWII, Raymond returned to school and joined the Madison College faculty in 1948. He was a distinguished history professor and advisor to the Honor Council until the mid 1970s. He also wrote a book famous among university graduates: Madison College: The First 50 Years, which chronicles the growth of the university from 1908-1958.
“JMU has progressed a long way from a women’s teacher college,” said Tom Dingledine, the great grandson of William Johnston Dingledine. "Both my grandparents dedicated their lives to helping others in and out of the college classroom.”
In honor and in support of the institution to which his family has devoted so much, Tom and his wife, Karyn, recently donated $2.6 million to provide scholarships covering four years of tuition expenses to students with a commitment to service. The gift marks JMU’s first privately funded four-year scholarship used to recruit high-achievement students.
Read Madison’s article on the Dingledine family (p. 24). And stay tuned tomorrow for a special message from the JMU Alumni Association as we conclude our "100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Dukes" campaign.
How many times have you made plans to meet in front of a campus building without thinking of its eponym? Most JMU buildings were specifically named, and usually after an exceptional member of the Madison family. Showker Hall and Showker Field were named after such a person — a man who was a pillar of the Harrisonburg community and who epitomized the American dream.
The late Zane D. Showker (’03H) is one of only four people to be recognized by JMU as an honorary alumnus — both for his dedication to the university and his vision for its future. Zane, who started his business out of the back of a truck, was determined to succeed from the beginning. From 1950-1973 he owned and operated Harrisonburg Fruit and Produce until he merged with Sysco Food Services — the largest food distributor in the United States.
Zane was instrumental in establishing the cancer treatment center at Rockingham Memorial Hospital and was an avid benefactor of Bridgewater College, First Presbyterian Church, Blue Ridge Community College and JMU. He served on the JMU Board of Visitors from 1994-2002 and was a passionate supporter of JMU athletics. Upon donating $2 million to the Athletic Performance Center, Zane said: “I've seen JMU evolve from a small teachers college to a major university. I'm happy to play a role in enhancing the opportunities for JMU's excellent student-athletes.”
Zane’s legacy lives on — both through his philanthropic gifts and his family. His son, Joe Showker (’79) — a former member of the JMU Alumni Association Board of Directors — played on some of the first football teams at Madison and has taught in Rockingham County for 32 years. Joe’s daughter Christen is a JMU senior. Following in his father’s philanthropic footsteps, Joe Showker and his wife Debbie (’78) have made several gifts to the university, including a $500,000 pledge to name the Center for Sport Psychology after Joe’s former Madison coach, Challace McMillin.
Learn more about Joe Showker his work with ITRT, the Zane Showker Award, the annual Zane D. Showker Business Scholarship and the Showker Harrisonburg Greenway Fund.
Steve (’78) and Dee Dee Leeolou (’78) understand that a culture of philanthropy is essential to JMU’s future. “We love this school,” Steve told Be the Change. “[We] know [a financial gift is] an investment that pays compounded returns in producing people who will make a real contribution to society going forward."
The Leeolous set the bar as the first alumni to make a $1 million donation to the university. A majority of that gift funded the 19,000-square-foot Leeolou Alumni Center — a building that represents the strengthening of ties between Madison students and alumni. "We realize that it is [now] our responsibility to give back," Steve said.
Since the 1970s JMU’s commitment to building a comprehensive university has involved a maturation of academic and student life programs in conjunction with expanding the physical infrastructure of campus. The recently introduced JMU LOVE program echoes this mission by providing increased opportunities for alumni to be involved in the JMU community.
Steve Leeolou earned a B.S. in communications and co-founded Vanguard Cellular Systems in 1984 — one of the largest non-wireline cellular carriers in the 90s before it merged with AT&T at a value of $1.5 billion. Steve was a member of the Board of Visitors for eight years and was co-chair of Madison’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. He currently is the CEO at Conterra Ultra Broadband.
Dee Dee Leeolou graduated with a B.B.A. in accounting and moved to D.C. after college to work as a management auditor for the General Accounting Office. She later worked for the Southeast Consortium for International Development where she frequently traveled to third-world countries. Dee Dee is the current Financial & Administrative Manager at Southstar Capital, LLC.
Following the Leeolou’s second seven-figure donation, Steve spoke with Dr. Joanne Carr — senior vice president for university advancement — about the significance of supporting JMU. With inspiring words, Carr described a 2009 dinner for the Performing Arts Center. “That’s when I personally saw the power of connecting donors in a common cause,” she said. “[Everyone] began discussing the common thread that drew them together. It was the flowering of conversation and that connection that I saw for the first time there. They began talking about their effort, which was to enhance the Madison Experience for future students. It was suddenly a critical mass of donors who saw the power of what they can accomplish together.”
The Leeolous received the Ronald E. Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1998 for their role in helping JMU prepare students to be educated, enlightened and spirited alumni.
Learn more about the Leeolous and their life after college in Montpelier and see Steve’s Be the Change profile. Read Madison’s Winter 2009 issue (p. 20) for the full interview between Steve Leeolou and Dr. Joanne Carr.
Regardless of age or academic interests, the Madison Experience is the common ground that bonds all those affiliated with JMU. The past 96 days have displayed qualities indicative of what it means to be a Duke and have uncovered a pattern of alumni giving back to the university in the hopes of inspiring future graduates.
Today we highlight JMU’s women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks (’92), whose dedication to the sport — and to his alma mater — has helped him shape JMU athletes for more than a decade.
Following back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association titles, and NCAA tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011, Brooks received a contract extension through the 2016 season. His comments in a Sept. 13 news conference echoed the sentiments he made in 2002 when he was named head coach. “It’s an honor in itself to be the coach here at JMU,” he said. “The commitment and support we have received over the years … combined with the support from the community, truly makes this one of the best jobs in America.”
Brooks, who earned a degree in business management, played three seasons as point guard under the legendary “Lefty” Driesell and helped JMU reach the National Invitation Tournament in 1990 and 1991. After graduation he worked as a part-time assistant coach on the men’s team for a year. He returned to the hardwood in 1998 as an assistant coach on the men’s team. In 2002, Brooks’ dream of becoming a head coach materialized.
Brooks’ teams have achieved top-25 national ranking in 2007, 2009 and 2010. He’s presided over teams that have broken more than 100 school records, including six consecutive 20-win seasons. Brooks was voted 2007 and 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year and has led the Dukes to five CAA championship game appearances (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011). His program has produced three CAA Players of the Year: Meredith Alexis (’07), Tamera Young (’08) and fellow “100 Days” honoree: Dawn Evans (’11).
“Anyone who knows me knows this is my dream job,” Brooks said. “This is not a job for me; this is something special. I feel like I'm one of the luckiest people in the world.”
Read more about Kenny Brooks and his career at JMU and the JMU women’s basketball program.
With more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Joe Damico’s (’76, ’77M) career is one to be admired. As a founding partner and co-chairman of RoundTable Healthcare Partners, Damico is a prime example of why James Madison’s College of Business continues to garner national attention as one of the country’s best business schools.
Remembering his purple and gold roots, Damico — who recently completed an eight-year term of service on the JMU Board of Visitors — is a regular on the Madison campus and a generous supporter to the College of Business.
Damico, who earned degrees in business management and marketing, was elected as rector to the BOV in 2006 and currently serves as the chairman of the JMU Presidential Search Committee. In 2004, Damico and his wife Pamela ('77), an education graduate, donated $1 million to the Jackson E. Ramsey Eminent Scholars Centennial Chair in Business. In addition to honoring one of his professors, Damico wanted to give back to the institution that provided the foundation for his successful business career.
As the former executive vice president of Cardinal Health, Inc., Damico also was the former president & chief operating officer of Allegiance Corporation and held senior management positions at Baxter International Inc. and American Hospital Supply.
In 2001 Damico co-founded RoundTable ― a private equity firm that invests in healthcare businesses with a promising future. He is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction and management and is an integral part of RoundTable’s transaction process, including evaluating potential portfolio companies.
Damico also serves as non-executive Chairman of the Board of Argon, ACI Medical, Avalign, Aspen and Vesta.
See Joe Damico’s Be the Change profile and visit the RoundTable Healthcare Partners website to learn more about the firm.
The predominant goal of the ISAT department ― and one that is continually realized ― is to create and communicate solutions to a diverse portfolio of societal and technological challenges through effective partnerships between students and faculty. With many student internship opportunities and committed professors, ISAT students are encouraged to set their sights high.
It’s lesson Curt Dvonch (’08, ’11M) took to heart. As a freshman, Dvonch conducted a NASA-funded project where he helped pinpoint defects in tiles like those found on U.S. space shuttles.
This was just the beginning. He spent the next year working exclusively on a government-funded research project to ease maneuverability of combat tanks. Fully aware of the implications of his research, Dvonch told Be the Change in 2006: “Every new advancement we make can help the word, certainly, and also has the potential to do damage. But that’s where your own ethics need to come in.”
Dvonch was a recipient of the Elizabeth Anne Gauldin Endowed Scholarship Fund. Armed with the support of this retired NASA scientist (Day 28 on our '100 Days' list), Dvonch applied and was accepted to a highly competitive NASA-sponsored summer program. He spent the summer of 2007 performing atmospheric science at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“The experience with instrumentation and measurement that I have gained in ISAT has thoroughly prepared me for the research [at Los Alamos],” Dvonch told Madison. “The ISAT faculty and staff’s endless support is what has allowed me to join some of the best and brightest scientific students and researchers here at Los Alamos. I can’t be more grateful to them, to my fellow ISAT students and to JMU.”
After graduation, Dvonch was invited to continue his work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He returned to JMU in 2009 and completed an M.S. in ISAT.
Read more about Curt Dvonch in his Be the Change profile and his interview with “100 Days” honoree Elizabeth Gauldin (’50) in the Summer 2006 issue of Madison (p. 48).
Scott Norwood (’82) wasn’t always interested in football. He was a standout soccer player since he was old enough to tie his shoes, and tried out for his high school football team at the coach’s request. After playing for JMU and graduating with a business degree, Norwood continued on to the NFL, becoming an integral part of the Buffalo Bills’ offensive juggernaut in the late 1980s and early 90s.
Norwood, for a time, was the all-time leading scorer in Buffalo history — a dependable kicker who was nearly automatic from inside 40 yards. “I felt like I fit into that team,” Norwood said in 2004 interview with Sports Illustrated. “That's one of the special things about sports, the camaraderie.”
During his professional career, Norwood made 98% of his PATs and connected on 133 field goals — good for 73%. He had his finest season in 1988, when he drilled 32 field goals and made the Pro Bowl.
Buffalo coach Marv Levy wrote about Norwood in his book, characterizing him as a player who was “quiet, conscientious, dependable and respectable,” and who, on several occasions, delivered game-winning kicks and “last-minute heroics” to propel the Bills to crucial victories.
Even in the face of adversity, Norwood showed grace and leadership. Hours after his 47-yard game-winning field goal attempt in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXV sailed wide right by less than two feet, Norwood and his teammates arrived at City Hall in downtown Buffalo. Nearly 30,000 Bills fans gathered in the streets below, and as the team moved out on a balcony to see their fans, shouts of support erupted.
As the clamor began to quiet, chants of “We-Want-Scott!” mounted until the entire crowd was in unison. Norwood eased forward and spoke to the devoted fans. “I know I’ve never felt more loved than right now,” he said. “We will be back. You can count on it, and we are dedicating next season to the fans of Buffalo.”
Norwood’s honest and moving words to the city, and to his team, lifted the crowd. The following year, he and the Bills repeated as AFC champions — their second of four consecutive conference championships.
Scott Norwood was elected to the JMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. He now lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Kim, and their three children Carly, Connor and Corey.
In early May, Entrepreneur Magazine sent out a call for business owners all over the country to enter candidates for its “Entrepreneur of 2011” contest — a prestigious award in the business community. Three months later, JMU’s own Latane Meade (’01), president of VAVi Sport and Social Club, was selected as one of five finalists in the Emerging Entrepreneur category.
A few months after graduation, the College of Business alum joined the marketing and sales team at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Washington D.C. After two years of experiencing the corporate side of business, Meade went back to his roots. As a Virginia Beach native, Meade craved the shoreline and moved to San Diego, where he took over the marketing department at VAVi. Now the president of the organization, Meade is a prime example of VAVi’s core purpose: bringing fun into everyday life.
VAVi has more than 30 adult coed sports leagues, fitness and dance classes. Growing at the rate of 300 new members a week, VAVi has something for everyone. From marathon running for the steadfast, to coed softball for those just looking for a game, to volunteer clubs for those looking to give back to the community, VAVi brings together more than 55,000 professionals in the San Diego area.
Martha Graham, author of JMU’s Be the Change blog, wrote in a recent entry that Meade’s nomination comes as no surprise. “Any graduate of JMU who has played on an intramural sports team will recognize the JMU-like propensity to have fun. It’s part of what makes the Madison Experience so great.” So remember to keep an eye out for Meade when the Emerging Entrepreneur of 2011 is announced on entrepreneur.com this December.
Watch Latane Meade’s entry video for the Emerging Entrepreneur of 2011 Contest and visit the VAVi website to learn more about how you can get involved with a sports league, class or social event in your area.
Throughout this "100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Dukes" campaign, and on some of the quieter summer days, we at Office of Alumni Relations found ourselves watching The Madison Century at full volume. Some of us have even memorized its content, and we couldn’t resist sharing what Deborah Tompkins Johnson (’78) put so succinctly, and so accurately.
“I think the people are what make JMU very special,” she said.
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
What Johnson said resonates with those who have pride in their alma mater. It’s pride that comes in the form of inspirational testimonials that draw attention to the details and overriding values that make this university what it is. “[It’s] the people who poured themselves into me, worked with me, encouraged me — and I’m talking about professors; I’m talking about my fellow students,” Johnson continued in the video, which celebrated the university centennial in 2008.
It is this kind of encouragement from alumni like Johnson — people who have spread the Madison Spirit after leaving campus — that continues to make this university an exceptional institution.
Johnson's brother, Stanley Tompkins (’82), and her niece, Alexis Tompkins McKenzie ('01), also attended JMU. Deborah Johnson served on the JMU Board of Visitors from 1988-1994, the Foundation Board of Directors and was an alumni volunteer at many events. She also co-chaired a team of fellow Madison alumnae who wanted to encourage continuous involvement of African-American alumnae with JMU. Together this group founded the Black Alumni Chapter.
Johnson, currently the manager of regional state and local affairs (Northern Virginia) at Dominion Resources in Woodbridge, also funded the Diversity Endowment Scholarship, with a request for periodic contributions to the Black Alumni Chapter Scholarship Fund.
Deborah Tompkins Johnson, who joined fellow “100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Dukes” honorees Mark Warner (’79, ’81M, ’85Ed.S) and Brian Balmages (’98) in the Madison Century video, points to JMU’s leadership as a primary reason for its success. “We can count the things that have been done and the things that we want to do,” she said, “but unless you have people in charge that are visionaries, that’s what makes a difference, and that’s what I’ve seen at JMU.”
When Jared Setnar (’04M) looks at his students, he sees himself. Diagnosed with dyslexia at age seven, Setnar is a role model for all his students, teaching them how to understand their learning disability. It is a difficult road, but one he is committed to tread. Setnar is the current upper school director at the Chesapeake Bay Academy for learning-challenged students.
Dyslexia, like many other attention and learning disorders, is not a problem in need of treatment so much as it requires different, and often times a more creative, methods of learning. Living by example, Setnar sees his dyslexia as a net positive and encourages students to share this viewpoint. “It’s something that makes you unique,” Setnar said in an interview with Fox 43-TV in January. “It’s something that gives you special talents you otherwise wouldn’t have.”
CBA helps students ranging from primary school to high school navigate the obstacles they toiled with at traditional institutions. With a curriculum based on individualized learning plans, teachers identify each student's strengths and target areas in need of additional support and encouragement. “I get to help these kids the way I wish someone else could have helped me,” Setnar told Be the Change.
Setnar’s clear dedication to his students is a source of encouragement throughout the academic year. “It’s easy for [Setnar] to relate to [his students] without losing track of being a teacher,” former upper school director Erica Smith-Llera said. “They respect him, they want to please him and they feel safe with him.”
Catering to the needs of each student, CBA allows its students to present information in a way that is comfortable for them — doing a paper or an oral report, for example. The course of study remains the same, but there is an added sensitivity to adapting teaching methods to match each child’s learning process.
Read more about Jared Setnar in his Be the Change story and learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Academy.
In the spring of 1993, Timothy Persons walked across the stage to proudly accept his diploma. He knew exactly where he was heading once he walked off the graduation platform. This determined Duke went on to earn two master’s degrees and a doctorate, and currently holds the title of chief scientist at the Government Accountability Office.
After JMU, Persons attended Emory University where he earned an M.S. in nuclear physics. Persons also earned an M.S. in computer science from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
As the GAO’s chief scientist, Persons leads the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress and other federal agencies and government programs on cutting-edge science and technology, key national and international systems and engineering policies. He also manages and oversees original research studies in the fields of engineering, computer and the physical sciences.
Prior to joining the GAO, this Madison graduate was the technical director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and served as technical director for the National Security Agency's Human Interface Security Group. Persons also was a radiation physicist at the University of North Carolina.
Timothy Persons maintains a close connection with JMU. In 2007 he was selected as the JMU Physics Alumnus of the Year and returned to campus in 2009 to deliver a speech entitled: “STEMing the Tide — GAO's Increasing Role in the Science and Technology Public Policy Domain.” Visit the STEM homepage for more information on its programs.
While most freshman students were out participating in club sports or organizations, socializing with friends or taking a breather from classes, Jonathan Koves (’05) was building a website development firm — Koves Technologies LLC. With customers including General Electric and Marriott International, Koves' business is one of the top Web design companies in the world.
To think that it all really began in a JMU residence hall. Then again, to know Koves — who knew the basics of computer programming by age nine — it comes as no surprise that he was CEO of his own company at 23. Koves Technologies specializes in the design and development of websites and has clients ranging from non-profits to Fortune 500 companies. Koves Technologies has offices in Virginia, Southern California and India.
Koves, who majored in political science, pre-law and Russian studies, jokingly told Be the Change that he balanced his schoolwork and his professional endeavors by becoming an insomniac and a super-senior. By the time Koves graduated, he successfully launched Koves Technologies as well as IraqiNews.com — a website that provides streaming news about major developments in the Middle East. The idea for the site started from Koves’ desire to help others “look at this situation through Iraqi eyes.”
Since 2008, Koves also has been the CEO of Automedica, LLC. — a wholesale bulk exporter of competitively priced pharmaceuticals and international provider of specialist consulting services. And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, this Madison grad is a member of American Mensa — the high IQ society in which members score in the top two percent of the population.
Read more about Jonathan Koves in Be the Change and visit the Koves Technologies website.
With memories of wearing a long raincoat over her PJs, dorm discussions on deep subjects and wonderful roommates, friends and teachers, Dorothy Crowder Coffey (’51) is an example of the prime quality and merit of a Madison education. Graduating with the intention of being a teacher, an unexpected turn of events led Coffey to become the CEO of Crowder Corporation/United Van Lines in Alexandria, Va.
Coffey’s heavy course load was enough for others to see this Madison graduate was destined for a successful career. The former Dorothy Crowder was an English and history double major and a Spanish and music double minor. She taught sixth grade for one year in Falls Church, Va. before joining the family business, Crowder Transfer and Storage. After her father passed away, the family business was left to her mother. After working for her mother for six years, Coffey married John Coffey and began a weekly commute from Richmond, leaving Sunday night and returning Friday night — a routine that would last through the 1970s.
Coffey continued working, even after her husband retired. She became active in industry affairs, served as President of the Northern Virginia Household Carriers Association and served two terms as President of the Virginia Movers and Warehousemen Association (VMWA).
In 1992, Coffey received the Ronald E. Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and won the City of Alexandria’s Outstanding Women in Business Award. She also received the VMWA Commonwealth Award in 1995. After her retirement, Coffey served on the District 7610 Ambassadorial Scholarship Committee as well as the JMU Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Dorothy Crowder Coffey continues to maintain strong ties to JMU. She recently returned to campus for the Class of 1951’s 60th reunion and helped induct the Class of 1961 into the Bluestone Society.
Mike Thomas (’76, ’77M) finished graduate school the year Madison College became James Madison University, and for this alum, JMU has become a family tradition. Thomas’ wife, Kathy (’78), and daughters Melissa (’07) and Christine (’10) are Madison grads. Daughter Julie (’15) is a freshman this year. Thomas also serves on the COB’s Executive Advisory Board.
It is because of the commitment and support of distinguished alumni like Thomas that JMU’s College of Business ranks in the top five percent of undergraduate business schools in the nation. Thomas co-chairs the COB Centennial Campaign Committee with Kathy and remains heavily involved with JMU. “I believe JMU continues to provide an environment focused on building teams and working collaboratively with others in the classroom,” Thomas told Be the Change. “This culture of collaborative learning and team building has served me in all aspects of my career.”
After completing his M.B.A., Thomas joined IBM, working three years as the White House Account Manager. Working closely with the intelligence community throughout his career, Thomas has an extensive background in systems development and technology. As vice president of special application programs for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, Thomas led the redirection of the business into imagery and geospatial programs and expanded into the federal, commercial and international markets.
In 2007, Thomas was promoted to president of the Global Security Solutions (GSS) Group within Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Services (IS&GS). This past March, he became a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he supports the company’s broad security initiatives.
Thomas is on the board of directors of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance as well as the board of directors for the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.
Read more about Mike Thomas in his Be the Change profile.
In 2010 Dr. Mary McNerney Klote (’88) was one of six women to receive the Building Stronger Female Physician Leaders award. The award identifies and honors those who demonstrate distinctive achievement and service in the field of clinical expertise, service to their communities and involvement in enhancing the role of women in medicine by being a positive role model.
It’s a profile that fits this alumna well. Growing up with a father “who was always happy because he loved being in the Army,” the principles of honor and service to others were staples in the McNearney household. With a degree in computer information systems, Klote followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the Army. After five years in military intelligence, Klote took a leap of faith and applied to the School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University — where she currently is an assistant professor. “The idea of service extends not only to serving your country, but service to your patients,” Klote told Madison.
With the birth of her children and new parenting responsibilities, Klote decided to become an allergy immunologist instead of following her previous plan of becoming an intensive care doctor. “You can not be a doctor unless you love people,” Klote said. “There is no question, the idea of service is around us — you are an advocate for your patients.” This decision led to Klote’s vaccine research for the Army as a staff allergist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Klote has dual board certifications in internal medicine and allergy immunology. She is the current director for the Clinical Investigation Regulatory Office, part of the Office of Research Protections, USA Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Md. She also is a fellow of the American College of Allergy and Asthma Immunology and was recognized for her extensive work in biochemical research oversight. She was twice named a finalist for the Baily K. Ashford award — Walter Reed’s research competition.
To read more about Mary Klote and her accomplishments take a look at her feature article in Madison. And learn more about the Building Stronger Female Physician Leaders.
Steve James (’77) started his career much like many other Madison students interested in media — at Harrisonburg’s WHSV TV-3. Grounded in the Madison way of initiating change through education, this film producer went on to win a Director’s Guild of America award, a Peabody award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award for his work in the documentary film genre.
His breakthrough documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) won nearly every major critical award and brought James the MTV Movie Award for “Best New Filmmaker.” Set in Chicago, James spent more than four years following two local basketball prospects, William Gates and Arthur Agee, as they combated adversity in the community and grappled through high school. Oscar nominations, major awards at the Sundance Film Festival and continuing national acclaim has followed.
For his next documentary titled Stevie (2002), James retuned to Southern Illinois to reconnect with a boy he mentored 10 years earlier as a “Big Brother.” The film won festival awards at Sundance, Amsterdam, Yamagata and Philadelphia and also was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
James has helped revitalize the documentary genre. “Before, people used to want to make narrative films, but suddenly people realized what you could do with documentary," he told The Guardian. His most recent work, The Interrupters, premiered this year and is his fifth film selected to appear at Sundance. The film follows three former gang members trying to protect their Chicago neighborhoods from the violence they previously created.
James recently appeared in These Amazing Shadows, a documentary investigating what makes the films listed in the National Film Registry the treasures of American cinema — a fitting topic for this distinguished filmmaker.
Learn more about James, his accomplishments and partnership with Kartemquin Films. And read a full-length interview with James regarding his film career and his participation in ESPN’s critically acclaimed “30 for 30” series.
They met in the music department. Soon Hee Newbold (’96) was concertmaster of the JMU orchestras; Erin Rettig (’96) played principal cello. After developing a friendship, the two began dating and soon were married. Living in Los Angeles, this musical couple now is making their mark on the music world.
Both Newbold and Retting were music performance and pre-med double majors, but after seeing what JMU’s School of Visual and Performing Arts had to offer, Newbold dropped pre-med and added a music industry major.
As a high school student, Rettig participated in orchestra camps during the summers and was familiar with the JMU music program and staff long before his first days as a freshman. “JMU gave me a great opportunity to study and grow, personally and intellectually, and to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he told Madison.
After graduation, the newlyweds moved to Orlando, playing in professional orchestras and at Walt Disney World. During this time, they also recorded several albums. As the years passed, Newbold developed an interest in acting while Rettig developed a curiosity for audio production and engineering. Seeking a new adventure where these budding passions could be pursued, the couple set out for Hollywood.
Once settled, Newbold began working toward becoming a published composer and expanding her acting career (she now travels the world as a guest conductor and composer for various schools, festivals and conferences). “I love having a schedule that is flexible and getting to do things that I love for a living,” Newbold told Be the Change. Her compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Midwest Clinic — the world’s largest instrumental music education conference. The Jakarta International School orchestras recently honored Newbold by hosting the Newbold Music Festival in Indonesia.
Rettig, meanwhile, now a sound engineer for 20th Century Fox, has more than 100 film credits including Rise of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men Origins, Anchorman, Tropic Thunder, Hairspray, Madagascar and The Ring 2. Both say the IMDB credits are only part of their story — so keep an ear out to hear what they will produce next.
Read Soon Hee Newbold and Erin Rettig’s Be the Change story and learn more about their rise in the Fall 2011 issue of Madison.
Named by the Washington Business Journal as one of the top “Women who Mean Business,” Amy McPherson (’83) knows communication skills and teamwork are crucial elements to succeeding in the business world. She credits JMU’s College of Business for helping lay the foundation. McPherson is the president and managing director of the Europe division at Marriott International.
After graduating, McPherson earned an M.B.A. from the College of William & Mary and began working for Air Products and Chemicals in Allentown, Penn. Since joining Marriott in 1986, McPherson has held a variety of senior positions with responsibilities in revenue management, finance, business development and business transformation. Under McPherson’s leadership, a USA Today-commissioned study ranked Marriott International as the fastest and best performing lodging website in the world.
At the 2009 news conference announcing McPherson’s promotion to president and managing director of European lodging, Marriott International president and chief operating officer Arne Sorenson dubbed McPherson as one of the company’s top leaders. “She created a sales and marketing, eCommerce, reservations and customer care organization that is truly world class. Her talents and business savvy will be instrumental in driving revenue and growth,” Sorenson said.
In a word of advice to young people on the brink of the job market — as well as those already in an established career — McPherson urged people to find what they love and make no compromises when perusing it as a career. “If you do what you're passionate about, the professional growth and money will follow,” she said.
This devoted alumna returns to JMU each year as vice chair of the College of Business Executive Advisory Council and funds a COB scholarship.
Read more about Amy McPherson in her Be the Change profile and in Madison’s Fall 2005 issue (p. 29). Take a look at McPherson’s 10 Tips for a Successful Career.
In March 2009, Paul Holland (’82) addressed the nation and introduced President Obama at the “Investing in the Clean Energy Economy” event — an opportunity few can say they’ve experienced. Holland represented the entire cleantech industry and spoke about Serious Materials (now Clean Energy) — a leading provider of green building materials that saves energy, money and aggressively addresses climate change.
Now a general partner at Foundation Capital, Holland’s primary focus is helping early-stage start-up companies build multi-million-dollar revenue streams. Holland, who lives the Be the Change spirit with a determination to protect our environment for future generations, says it all began at JMU.
“When I look at college, I think it really represents two opportunities for maturation,” Holland said. “One is an academic maturation, and I think JMU did a very good job there. The second, which I believe is actually more important, is social maturation — the notion of being able to grow as a person. I thought JMU represented an incredible opportunity for that.”
With a B.S. in public administration and political science and a minor in business, this Baltimore native told Be the Change that he fell in love with JMU on his very first visit. As an undergrad, he participated in intramural sports, served as the inaugural president of the Public Administration Society and was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.
Holland earned an M.A. from the University of Virginia and his M.B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. He started his professional career at SRI International and went on to become a vice president and general manager for Pure Software, helping to raise market value from $2 million to over $1 billion.
Holland is a board member of Serious Materials and Coverity Inc., and is on the JMU College of Business Advisory Council.
Read Paul Holland’s Be the Change article and read more about his speech at the White House.
On this day, we take time to reflect on a crime against our nation 10 years ago. But, instead of recalling one of the darkest moments of this country’s history, we focus on the honor, courage and strength of America's people, and the culture of citizenship this nation — and this university — has created.
Today, we celebrate the bravery of the people of this country. With integrity, we remember what it means to be American, and we uphold the values that founded the United States and unite its people. We remember our heritage and the cultural thread that binds us together as one nation. We remember the hard work and brilliant minds that created this country — and the people this country creates every day.
On this, the 10th anniversary of September 11th, we honor the hardworking individuals we lost, those who upheld American values of a commitment to democracy, to the preservation of life and the importance of freedom — values that are worth protecting and fighting for. Today, we take the time to honor the memory of three JMU alumni and a JMU parent who were lost on that tragic day 10 years ago.
Craig Blass (’96): A finance major, Blass worked as an institutional stock trader for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 103rd floor of the North Tower. Blass was a member of Theta Chi and held executive positions in the fraternity. Learn more about the Craig Blass Memorial Scholarship and the annual golf tournament held in his name here.
Matthew D. Horning (’97): Horning graduated magna cum laude with a degree in computer information sciences. He was a humble, giving, passionate young man planning a life with his fiancée, Maura Landry. Horning worked on the 95th floor of the North Tower as a database administrator for Marsh & McLennan.
Bruce Simmons (’83): Known as “Sy” during his undergraduate years, Simmons was a partner at Sandler O’Neil and Partners on the 104th floor of the South Tower. He had recently started speaking to classes in the College of Business and was a consistent financial contributor to JMU.
Brian T. Thompson (P ’03): A typical PTA dad and former Little League coach, Thompson's son, Daniel, is a 2003 JMU graduate. Brian was the executive vice president for human resources at Fuji Bank on the 82nd floor of the South Tower.
Read JMU President Linwood Rose’s speech in response the September 11 attacks: “A Time of Caring.”
At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Gary Clark (’84) built a reputation as one of the toughest players in Washington Redskins history. But before this four-time Pro Bowler stepped onto any NFL field, Clark suited up in purple and gold and played for JMU, helping the Dukes earn their first win over a Division I-A opponent (21-17 vs. Virginia in 1982) and paving the way for future program success.
While at JMU, Clark shattered almost every major school receiving record, finishing with 155 career receptions, 2,863 yards and 16 touchdowns. The JMU Hall of Famer still holds the school record for games with at least 100 receiving yards (11) and once returned two punts for touchdowns in a single game (vs. Virginia in 1983).
After graduation, Clark made JMU history as a first-round draft pick for the USFL’s Jacksonville Bulls, becoming the first JMU player to be drafted in the first round of a professional football league. In 1985, he donned the famous burgundy and gold uniform of the Redskins and went on to lead NFL rookie receivers with 72 receptions. From 1985-1992, Clark and teammate Art Monk formed one of the NFL’s best receiving tandems, helping Washington win two Super Bowls.
Clark signed with the Phoenix Cardinals prior to the 1993 season and played his final season with the Miami Dolphins in 1995. He finished his career with 699 receptions, 10,856 yards, 65 touchdowns and amassed 32 100-plus yard receiving games. Clark was named to the 70 Greatest Redskins list in 2002 and became the first player in JMU history to have a jersey retired.
View Gary Clark’s pro statistics at Pro Football Reference.
Ashley Mitchell (’09) starts each day with a sponge. By the time students arrive in the classroom — usually more than an hour after their teacher begins her workday — Mitchell is ready and waiting to give a review lecture of the previous day’s lesson. This “sponge” review builds the comfort and confidence needed to tackle new assignments and explore new concepts.
Mitchell currently teaches at Community Education Partners — a private company that works with Richmond Public Schools — and recently was named Teacher of the Year by the Richmond Alternative School. While at JMU, she participated in the Centennial Scholars Program (CSP) and graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor in women’s studies. CSP ensures that no qualified student is ever turned away from the university due to financial setbacks.
“I’ve had so many people help me along the way,” Mitchell told Madison. “I won’t ever be able to repay them, but I can turn around and help other young people be successful, go to college, and make a better life for themselves.”
With the desire to extend the same enthusiasm and dedication shown to her at JMU, Mitchell moved to Richmond to help troubled inner-city students at CEP. The Alternative School is comprised of at-risk students between ages 12 and 16, with the goal of sending students back to their home schools once they improve their academic skills, attendance and behavior.
Mitchell currently is completing her certification to become a Reading Specialist at Virginia Union University.
Learn more about the Centennial Scholar program.
With a major gift donation and hearts of purple and gold, Lois Forbes (’64) and her husband, local developer Bruce Forbes, enabled the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts to transition off the blueprint page and into reality. At 174,524-square-feet, the center is the largest one-time construction project ever undertaken by James Madison University.
Named in honor of the Forbes family, the building contains of five performance venues: the Mainstage Theatre (450 seats), the Concert Hall (600 seats), the Recital Hall (196 seats), the Studio Theatre (200 seats) and the Earlynn J. Miller Dance Theatre (200 seats). The building also includes faculty offices, rehearsal rooms, labs and classrooms.
The Forbes’ deep-rooted support of JMU does not stop here, however. The two statues of James Madison were gifts from the family, marking their dedication to the university as well as the man it’s named after. The first statue stands near Varner House, and the second — a heroic 10-foot-tall image of a youthful Madison — overlooks campus from the ISAT steps.
“When I came [to JMU] it was a tiny little town,” Lois Forbes told The Breeze in 2008. “Now it’s a wonderful university and I love coming over here and love being a part of it.”
The progression of JMU — both from an academic and physical campus perspective — is just phenomenal, she says.
Lois Forbes is member of the Board of Visitors. She has served on the JMU Foundation Board, the Madison Day planning committee and the Duke Club board. She received the Inez Graybeal Roop Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2009, awarded to a graduate whose dedication and volunteer commitment has significantly enhanced the goals and mission of JMU.
Lois and Bruce also are benefactors of the Plecker Athletic Performance Center, men’s and women’s golf, the College of Business and the Forbes Family Scholarship.
Book your ticket to see a JMU music, theatre, or dance production at the Forbes Center today. Read more about the Forbes Center in the Madison article “Performing Arts Takes Center Stage” (P.22) and see the Forbes’ Be the Change profile.
Walt Disney once said: “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.” JMU grad Ted Boyke (’98) lives these words everyday. Boyke is the assistant technical director in the Layout Finaling Department with Disney Feature Animation division in Los Angeles, where he adds lifelike animated details to animated films.
A former media arts and design major, Boyke concentrated in media writing and minored in film studies. The student clubs and activities he participated in – including the film club (now, Cinemuse) and film assistant at Grafton Stovall – were just as instrumental in preparing him for his career as were his classes.
Boyke began his career with Disney in 2000 as a render I/O administrator on the film Gone in Sixty Seconds. Since then, he has contributed to the production of 21 films and has worked as an animation director, assistant technical director and a layout artist.
“It is a really enjoyable experience. An animator draws one butterfly, and I scan it into the computer and use the software to make that one butterfly into a cloud of butterflies, all flapping their wings at a different rate,” said Boyke, who most recently worked on Princess and the Frog.
View Ted Boyke’s full filmography and read his “Bright Lights” feature in Madison.
We employ small units of language — "ay" "ee" "oo" "sh" "ch" "th" — every day without a second thought. But for teachers like Rheannon Sorrells (’04, ’11M), these phonemes are an integral part of the day’s class lesson. They are diphthongs and diagraphs — sounds that form meaningful contrasts between utterances and act as the building blocks of reading and communication.
Now in her eighth year of elementary school teaching, Sorrells is responsible for the introduction of Response to Intervention (RtI) at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in Front Royal, Va. Having taught kindergarten, second and third grade in previous years, Sorrells requested a first-grade teaching assignment in 2009 — the same year Ressie failed to meet the Annual Yearly Progress benchmarks of the No Child Left Behind Act. “First grade is that critical year in reading instruction. I wanted that challenge,” Sorrells told Madison. With the staunch determination to make sure reading problems did not turn into a pattern, Sorrells turned to her alma mater for help.
At the time Sorrells was pursuing a master’s degree at JMU and studying under Dr. Allison Kretlow. After learning of RtI in a Specialized Reading Interventions course, Sorrells asked her professor what it would take to implement the program. Sorrells and Kretow understood that much of the deficits in reading abilities have more to do with the methods of instruction than with the student’s innate ability. The RtI program is designed to tackle this problem. It helps educators better teach the fundamentals of reading and conquer reading deficiencies by practicing methods of diagnosing students early and often. As a result, teachers are able to provide the necessary amount of help to each student before they are labeled as disabled.
The two Dukes set out to refashion reading education at Ressie, leading to such a profound level of success and student improvement that it set into motion a complete overhaul of elementary teaching methods throughout Front Royal and the surrounding communities.
Dr. Kretlow worked side by side with Sorrells and other teachers at Ressie Elementary throughout the process. “Honestly, the teachers have truly amazed me because of their openness and constant devotion to the students,” Kretlow said. “They are the ones who have done this.”
Read more about Rheannon Sorrells and Dr. Allison Kretlow in the Fall edition of Madison.
Tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes have become part of Jon McNamara’s “routine" in recent months. McNamara (’05), the Regional Director of Media and Donor Relations at the American Red Cross, Virginia Capital Region, has become well versed in emergency relief, as he and his colleagues work to help those in the Commonwealth who have been affected by natural disaster.
For McNamara, a former media arts and design major, effective communication of major issues — especially when lives are on the line — is paramount. The New York native and Richmond resident long has been interested in matters of public importance. As an employee of SYColeman Corporation in 2006 and 2007, McNamara worked as a contractor inside the public affairs office for the U.S. Army. Later, as associate of marketing for Patient Service Inc. in Richmond, he was part of a small team charged with delivering the message for a healthcare advocacy group that provides assistance to patients with chronic illness.
At the Red Cross, McNamara has been thrown into the fire. Since his hiring in late March, the region has been the site of a late-spring tornado outbreak, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake and massive flooding after Hurricane Irene slammed the East Coast last week. McNamara has been on the front line every time, doing interviews for television, radio, online and print media, providing information to people in need of assistance, and helping coordinate shelter and food options for citizens without power who have been displaced by these natural disasters. It's a massive undertaking, and one that doesn't begin after an emergency situation arises, McNamara stresses.
“Getting the message out about disaster preparation is one of the key pillars of our organization,” McNamara said. “Providing families and businesses with tools they need to remain safe can mean the difference between a long and tough recovery and one that’s manageable.”
A diehard Dukes fan, Jon McNamara remains heavily involved in his alma mater. At SYColeman, he and fellow Madison grad Brian King (’05) — a former Student Ambassador and SMAD Alumni/Professional Advisory Council member — helped develop an internship and employment pipeline for interactive media graduates. McNamara currently serves as president of the Richmond Chapter of the JMU Duke Club and is a member of the President’s Council.
With a comedic edge and stern determination, Phoef Sutton (’81) rose to the top of one of television's most popular and highly acclaimed comedy series in history, and he has continued to find success on the movie screen, the stage and in the book store ever since. The two-time Emmy-Award winning executive producer of Cheers also is a celebrated playwright, screenwriter and novelist.
As an undergraduate student, Sutton’s first full-length work, “The Pendragon Institute,” won acclaim at the American College Theatre Festival. His play went on to win the Norman Lear Young Playwrights competition, earning Sutton an internship in Hollywood that would lead to a lifelong fascination with entertainment.
Sutton lassoed a staff writing job on Cheers, and it was not long before his comedic presence was noticed. During Sutton’s eight-year stint with the series, he rose through the ranks — from story editor, executive story editor and co-producer all the way to executive producer in 1989. He went on to write and produce two Bob Newhart sitcoms and serve as creative consultant for the television shows Almost Perfect and Kristin. Sutton also has been the consulting producer for Boston Legal (2005-2008), Valentine (2008) and Terriers (2009-present).
Sutton, who earned degrees in communication arts and theatre, is a two-time JMU commencement speaker and received the Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2000.
“From his comic shenanigans in JMU’s first production of Dinner Theatre in the early 1980s to his current support of JMU and the theater department, Phoef has demonstrated an abiding interest and concern for his alma mater,” theatre professor Roger Hall said.
After a near fatal brain aneurysm, Sutton spoke to December 2007 graduates about his new perspective on life: “I want to make the future I used to dream about [into] a reality, but I don’t know where to begin. I guess I feel like I did in 1981 … it’s a new beginning, a fresh start. Life is full of those. Because the future doesn’t start 27 years after you’ve graduated — it starts every second of every day. … There, it just started.”
Listen to Phoef Sutton’s very humorous and inspiring commencement speech: Part 1 and Part 2. Read more about his career in Montpelier. See his full filmography at IMDB and learn about his novel Always Six O’clock.
Charles Haley (’87) left marks on and off the field, helping bring JMU football to new heights. A versatile and ferocious defender recruited by Challace McMillin, Haley emerged as a talented, hard-working, supremely successful college and pro standout. These traits would lead him to become the only player in NFL history to earn five Super Bowl rings.
A two-time All-American and a three-time Defensive MVP at JMU, Haley’s 506 career tackles are the most in Madison history. He had three seasons of more than 100 tackles and was named the Virginia Division I defensive player of the year in 1985.
In 1986, Haley was selected in the fourth round of NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers — the highest-selected player in JMU history. After two Super Bowl titles in San Francisco, Haley was traded to Dallas in 1992, and helped turn a good Cowboys’ defense into the NFL’s best. “We couldn’t spell Super Bowl until Charles joined us,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “He was our missing link.”
The 28-year old defensive end, known for his aggressive and practically unstoppable presence on the field, helped turn the Cowboys into a dynasty, with Super Bowl victories in 1992, 1993 and 1995. Back problems forced Haley into retirement in 1996, and after a brief return in 1998 and 1999, he left the playing field for good. In 12 pro seasons, Haley totaled 100.5 sacks, forced 26 fumbles, appeared in five Pro Bowls and was named the 1990 NFC defensive player of the year.
Haley received JMU’s Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2003. He credits his Madison Experience and his coach with his NFL success: “I just felt at home when I came to Madison, and I just enjoyed the whole experience,” he said.
In November, Haley — a 2011 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist — will be enshrined into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. It’s not hard to believe an induction in Canton is close behind.
To learn more about Charles Haley and his football career, read his memoir "All the Rage: The Life of an NFL Renegade" and his Be the Change profile.
From prison ministry to Big Brothers Big Sisters, volunteer work has always been a big part of Erin Frye’s (’07) life. One year after graduating with a degree in communications and working for CapTech Ventures, Frye started to itch for a new adventure. With a big heart and a leap of faith, she traveled to the Republic of Ghana with the non-profit Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) and returned to the West African country two years later with friends and family in tow.
Frye’s first assignment was in the village Hohoe, located four hours from the capital, Accra. A former member of the A Cappella group Note-oriety, Frye taught songs and hymns to the local children — most of whom were innately musical. “The children blessed me in ways I could never imagine,” she told Madison. “They showed me what true faith, joy and love look like.”
With services in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, Frye is one of over 25,000 people to have participated in CCS. The mission of CCS is to operate volunteer programs around the world in partnership with sustainable community initiatives, bringing people together to work side-by-side while sharing perspectives and fostering cultural understanding.
When Frye returned to the United States, she had a newfound love for the people and culture of Ghana. In June 2010 Frye returned to Hohoe, but this time with a group of family, friends and 16 suitcases full of donations. “Children in Ghana have few worldly possessions, but they find joy and contentment in everything,” Frye said. During this trip the group worked in the local orphanage, teaching art, music, leading morning worship and coaching soccer.
Once she was back in Virginia, Frye only thought about one thing: how to get back to her second home in Ghana. She currently is planning of 2012 trip with the non-profit Orphan’s Heroes.
Read more about Erin Frye and her trips to Ghana in Madison. And learn more about how to volunteer with Cross Cultural Solutions and how you can help the Hohoe Christian Orphanage.
CJ Sapong (’10) was the first player in the history of JMU men’s soccer to earn first-team all-conference honors four years in a row. A driving force for the program, this formidable forward was the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft and continues to elevate his status with every game.
Trading his purple and gold jersey for a light blue one, Sapong signed with Kansas City in March. Eighteen days later, Sapong made his professional debut with a splash. Two minutes into his first game, Sapong scored a goal against Chivas USA — the fastest goal scored by a rookie in MLS history. Sapong also scored the first-ever MLS goal at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in June.
With a raw enthusiasm and respect for the sport, the Manassas, Va. native told Top Drawer Soccer.com: “When I'm on the field I try to play free and with passion. I love the game and I feel like I'd be doing it a disservice if I didn't appreciate the joy of playing and how well I have it.”
Sapong finished his Madison career ranked seventh in goals (37) and fourth in game-winning goals (12). He was a two-time NSCAA First team All-South Atlantic Region athlete in 2009 and 2010, and was the CAA Player of the Year and on the Hermann Trophy Watch List in 2010.
With a long list of athletic honors and a developing professional career, one of the most memorable experiences that deepened Sapong’s commitment to soccer occurred during a trip to his parents’ home country of Ghana. Sapong brought a bag of old soccer balls to hand out to children in the area, and “seeing the way people support soccer and play as if they were competing in the World Cup makes me want to play that much harder.”
View CJ Sapong’s JMU stats and his career with Kansas City. Read more about Sapong in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s article.
Six years ago, John-Paul Lee (’01) quit his job and sold everything to start a business. With the determination to revamp the image of tea, this former finance and computer information systems major is now the CEO and co-founder of Tavalon Tea — a loose-leaf tea company with operations throughout the United States and South Korea.
Ironically, it all started with a cup of coffee.
While working as a consultant in London in 2005, Lee was drinking a latte in Covent Garden when he noticed everyone around him was drinking tea. “The average American perceives tea to be very Asian, European and something you drink when you’re sick … pinkie up in the air,” Lee told The Epoch Times in 2010. Even as the second most popular beverage in the world, tea is not as common in the United States. Driven to make tea “fun, young, sexy and accessible,” Lee saw the challenge and ran straight at it.
Lee visited tea houses, tea farms and plantations all over Europe and Asia, concluding that the key to a successful business comes down to branding, perception and marketing. Tavalon endeavors to create the best tea mixes the world has ever seen, while catering to the American palate.
Providing customers with information about tea, including its history and health benefits, Tavalon aims to create a new, stronger tea tradition “through the cultivation of well-educated tea drinkers.”
“It’s really about incorporating fun with tea,” Lee said, “and incorporating it into our social environment.”
In 2010, the Asian American Business Development Center honored Lee with the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award. He most recently received the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce award. Crediting JMU’s College of Business, Lee recalls the emphasis placed on collaboration and people skills during his undergraduate experience — elements Lee found crucial on his road to success.
To read more about John-Paul Lee and how Tavalon Tea began, visit his blog, Tavalon.com and Lee’s Be the Change article.
Fascinated by storytelling since her childhood, Barbara Hall (’82) found a way to turn her passion into a career. Now a screenwriter, executive producer and story editor, Hall’s name is synonymous with Hollywood success. Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Northern Exposureand I’ll Fly Away are just a few of the hit shows that demonstrate her talent. And it all began at JMU.
As an English major, Hall took many poetry and film classes. She told Montpelier in 2004, “When I got to college, I was so excited by the number of opportunities to write, so I wrote every possible genre.”
That enthusiasm molded Hall into the eclectic writer she is today. Soon after graduating summa cum laude, Hall moved to Los Angeles and is now a four-time Emmy award nominee. Her long list of accolades includes two Humanitas Prizes for television — for writing that promotes human dignity, meaning and freedom — the Television Critics Association Award, a Golden Laurel from the Producers Guild of America and the Catholics in Media Award.
After September 11, Hall thought America needed something philosophical. Seeing television as a big conversation with the world, Hall wanted to have a theological discussion with the America. Enter Joan of Arcadia. The series lasted only two seasons but was met with continuous praise — uncommonly nominated for an Emmy in its first season. Not preaching or arguing, the series explored and pondered questions concerning the importance of our day-to-day decisions and the significance of our existence.
Hall, the 2005 recipient of JMU's Carrier Award for career achievement, is a devoted Madison grad. “I'm constantly bumping up against people who didn't get how I got here,” she said. “People ask me, ‘how do you know this?’ Or ‘how do you know that?’ I tell them, ‘I went to JMU.’”
Read more about Hall in her Be the Change profile and in Montpelier. Also check out her band, The Enablers, her solo album “Handsome”, IMDB for her full filmography and BarnesandNoble.com to read one of her 10 novels.
As student body president in middle school and high school, leadership came naturally to Levar Stoney (’04). With a moral foundation taught by his grandmother and a strong work ethic from his father, Stoney brought change to JMU during two terms as president of the Student Government Association. He continues to make an impact today.
Stoney, who earned degrees political science and public administration, served as the regional field organizer of the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign in 2004 and was the deputy finance director for the Creigh Deeds for Attorney General of Virginia campaign from 2004-2006. For the next two years Stoney worked as the political director for the Democratic Party of Virginia and received a prestigious promotion to executive director in 2008. Stoney was the first African-American to occupy the position in the state’s history.
As an undergraduate student, Stoney advocated for diversity in the student body by joining the Diversity Affairs Committee. The idea of public service has been a large part of his life. “Public service [is] a great supplement to our education at JMU,” he said in a 2009 interview. After moving up the ladder as a recent graduate, this Duke made sure he set time aside every Friday to tutor at a local elementary school. Stoney returned to Madison in 2009 to give a lecture titled “Diversity beyond JMU” as part of CISAT Diversity Council’s annual conference.
“I came to JMU knowing that I wanted to get involved in politics,” Stoney told Be the Change. “[JMU] has [helped launch my career] more than I ever thought it would.”
Read more about Levar Stoney in Be the Change.
Butch Taylor (’82, ’92M) was an integral ingredient to the “sound” of the Dave Matthews Band, providing ivory accents to chord progressions and melodies by way of long epic solos and mellow piano sections. Taylor filled gaps in the score with notes that have become DMB staple sounds — ones that continue to influence the direction of the band today.
Born Clarence Francis Taylor, the Shawsville, Va. native studied English as an undergraduate at James Madison and later returned to JMU to earn his master’s degree in music. While attending JMU, Taylor played with LeRoi Moore — former DMB saxophonist — in the university jazz band.
Taylor, also known as Mr. Chops, played with DMB drummer Cater Beauford in the band Secrets. The Richmond-based band performed throughout Virginia, including at Miller’s, the Charlottesville bar where Dave Matthews worked as a bartender and jumpstarted his performing career.
In 1998, when DMB wanted a keyboardist for a few tracks on Before These Crowded Streets, they immediately brought Taylor aboard. After appearing in a handful of shows in 1998 and 1999, Taylor toured with the band in the summer of 2000. As an unofficial member of the band, Taylor’s sound brought everything together. By 2001, Taylor was involved in every song. He played in every DMB show until 2008.
Shortly before the summer of 2008, Taylor decided to stop touring with the band. He now lives in Richmond, Va. where he runs a studio and composes scores for television and film.
After watching a documentary about an orphanage in Cape Town, South Africa, Amy Porter Zacaroli (’88) was firmly resolved to forever change her life by changing the lives of others. In 2003, Zacaroli and her husband, Alec, founded the nonprofit 25:40, named after scripture in the Gospel of Matthew: “I tell you the truth, whatever you [do] for even the least of these brothers of mine, you [do] for me.”
With an irremovable passion to make a difference, the Zacarolis crafted their mission statement, boldly pledging to channel attention and resources toward saving children in southern Africa from the impacts of poverty and AIDS. 25:40 endeavors to create one community of people empowered with purpose, healing and hope.
But why Africa? And why South Africa?
Children in Africa, even before this virulent epidemic, faced an inordinate amount of poverty, disease and violence. Now AIDS is ravaging whatever is left. And South Africa in 2009 was the country with the most people infected with the virus — 5.6 million. Almost 90% of African children orphaned by AIDS live in continent’s Sub-Saharan region.
25:40 is starting its mission in South Africa, focusing specifically on the Eastern Cape because it has the highest percentage of orphans in the region (23% of the population) and has an HIV rate of 28%. With the help of funding and supply donations, volunteers, and partner organizations — Including the Umtha Welanga Health Care Center, HOKISA (Homes for Kids in South Africa), Kidzpositive and TABY (Touching Africa’s Beautiful Youth) — 25:40 is initiating change, helping one child at a time.
Learn more about 25:40, its projects and how you can help from its website and read more about Amy in her Be the Change profile. Learn about another link between JMU and the Umtha Welanga Heath Care Center in Madison.
After graduation, with a helpful tip from a friend, Leigh Pullekines (’91) started working as a part-time camera director at Harrisonburg’s news station, WHSV. It was the first unexpected step in her long journey in television. Now in one of the industry’s major markets, Pullekines is a news director for NBC10 in Philadelphia and the owner of four Emmy Awards.
After three years with WHSV, Pullekines worked for WRIC in Richmond, Va. as a technical director before moving to a director’s position at News Channel 8 in Washington D.C. According to this former Spanish major, the key to success and career advancement is “always going to larger markets, even if that means stepping down.” With her sights set high, Pullekines accepted a demotion to become the technical director for NBC10 in Philadelphia, confident that it was a risk worth taking.
She was right. After seven years, Pullekines was promoted to her current position as news director. She recently took on duties to assist NBC’s sister channel, Nonstop, and acts as a liaison between the news and sales departments.
When asked about her proudest career moments, Pullekines did not speak of Emmys or honors, but of a telethon. In response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Pullekines went straight to the head of the studio and pitched the idea to host a local telethon. Despite the challenges of organizing the event, booking talent and gathering sponsors, the fundraiser was a huge success. “It was a perfect show and the best part of all was that we raised nearly $1 million,” Pullekines said. “It was a great moment.”
Leigh Pullekines also makes an impact in the community. She is a member of G.E.’s Hispanic Forum and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and also is involved with Philadelphia Cares.
With lyrics about campfires and “iced-down coolers,” Phil Vassar (’85) helped everyone get in the summer mood with his latest single “Let’s Get Together.” The country music star has come a long way from where he started, creating No. 1 hits and capturing awards along the way. It’s surprising, then, to know Vassar didn’t especially like country music when he was younger.
Although country music was present in his hometown (Lynchburg, Va.), Vassar was more focused on sports. In fact, he attended JMU on a track and field scholarship. Vassar studied business administration as an undergrad, but he didn’t especially like that either. To satisfy his craving for a creative outlet, Vassar enrolled in as many music classes as his schedule would allow.
Now with a strong affinity for country music, Vassar definitely considers himself a country artist, but steps outside the box to stretch the genre’s limits. “What is country anyway? I don't think country would be a very healthy genre if it just stayed the same,” he told Montpelier. “Hopefully, I'm one of the artists that can keep country music moving in a forward direction.”
In 1987 Vassar moved to Nashville to start his music career, and over the next few years expanded his following throughout the city. Before he knew it, country celebrities including Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, JoDee Messina and Colin Raye were coming to Vassar for new songs.
Vassar's talents earned him the 2002 Academy of Country Music Award for top new male vocalist. He also has captured two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards and top honors from Billboard and MusicRow. He recently returned to JMU on Sept. 8, 2010, performing at the opening of the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts.
Vassar is living his dream. But he humbly explains otherwise. “I don't think you ever look in the mirror and say ‘I've made it,’” he said. “It's a marathon; it's not a sprint. You have to keep putting out song after song after song.”
Check out the JMU Arts website for upcoming shows and exhibitions. And read more about Phil Vassar and his rise to fame in Montpelier.
From business executive to teacher and community leader, JMU graduate Jeff Tickle (’90) says his only real goals are “to be a good citizen and do things to help my community, whether it be teaching, working with different agencies, or providing jobs.” Based on his body of work, Tickle has accomplished all those things … and then some.
After working for Ashland Chemical, Paty Company and Strongwell, the former economics and marketing major felt something was missing. His experience as an executive in the corporate world led Tickle to realize his passion was to train and teach. So he sold his import business, began substitute teaching and earned his education license at King College.
Tickle stated his teaching career at an alternative school in Bristol, Tenn. — most of his students we removed from their home schools due to behavioral issues. “They've given up almost,” Tickle told Be the Change. “But if we can be a positive role model, maybe we can influence them in some way.” Tickle continued to grow this method, bringing it to other schools including Tennessee High School and The Academy at King, where he currently is a math teacher and the golf and tennis coach.
Tickle serves on the boards at Crossroads Medical Mission and the Wellmont Foundation. He also is helping to establish the Mountain Empire Science Center in Bristol — a center affiliated with the Science Museum of Virginia that will provide young people a chance to experience science on a whole new level.
A true Duke, Tickle has not forgotten his purple and gold roots. He was a member of the million-dollar campaign (part of JMU’s fist comprehensive capital campaign), is on the Advisory Council for JMU STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and founded the Tickle Family Endowment in Science and Mathematics.
Learn more about STEM and the Tickle Family Endowment in Science and Mathematics.
The significant renovations to Bridgeforth Stadium would not have been possible without JMU football’s run of success beginning in 2004. There are countless players responsible for that stretch of excellence, including championship quarterback Justin Rascati and Buck Buchanan Award winner Arthur Moats. Rodney Landers (’09) certainly belongs on that list.
Landers finished his Madison career second on the school’s all-time list for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound battering ram compiled more than 6,700 yards from scrimmage in two years as a starter, good for fourth in JMU history.
As Rascati’s backup in 2005 and 2006, Landers offered glimpses of his potential as a dual-threat quarterback. In his first year as a starter in 2007, Landers set the JMU single-season quarterback rushing record with 1,273 yards. He was named first-team all state by the Roanoke Times and second-team All-CAA, leading JMU to an 8–3 regular-season record and a playoff berth.
In 2008, Landers emerged as one of the country’s best players, leading the Dukes to a 12-2 season and the semifinals of the FCS playoffs. He shattered his own single-season rushing record, bulldozing his way to 1,770 yards and 16 touchdowns en route to winning the Dudley Award — presented to the most outstanding Division I college football player in Virginia. Landers was runner-up for the Walter Payton Award — given to the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS — was a second-team AP All-American and the Colonial Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Year.
In the fall of 2009, after a stint in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rookie mini-camp, Landers signed with the Richmond Revolution (an expansion team in the Indoor Football League). Though his JMU playing days are over, the impact he had on the football program played a significant role in Madison’s '25k Strong' movement.
View Rodney Landers’ career stats on at JMUSports.
On June 1 Andrew Pham (’11) received an email that made his hands tremble. With graduation over and a plethora of awards and accomplishments already earned, Pham opened the message to learn of his selection as a 2011 Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship recipient — a perfect capstone to his Madison Experience.
Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest honor society for all academic disciplines. Each year the society awards 57 fellowships of $5,000 to top scholars across the United Sates. In light of Pham’s achievements as an honors student with a double major in piano performance and composition, this recognition was fitting.
Pham twice won first prize in JMU’s Write On! Academic Writing Contest. Faculty in the School of Music also honored Pham with the prestigious Presser Scholarship — an award given to the outstanding junior in the School of Music.
Pham began playing piano at the age of six, but it wasn’t until his senior year of high school that his interest flourished into a passion. Inspired by his teacher, Victoria Wyatt, Pham told Madison, "She saw a spark in me. She showed me things about the piano that really made me admire the art of performance."
Accepted to several universities and music programs, Pham chose JMU and the School of Music for its focus on performance and the approachability of the faculty. “I got such a positive feeling from the music professors," Pham said. "The teachers here are incredible resources and are people really interested in teaching.”
Read more about Andrew Pham and his musical journey at JMU in Madison.
In 2008, Rachel Brodrick (’05) joined Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) as a development specialist, becoming part of a team laboring to preserve the lives that make up our global community. Founded in 1958, Project HOPE educates health professionals and community workers to strengthen health facilities and fight diseases such as tuberculosis, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
After graduation Brodrick moved to Colorado, but returned to the East Coast a year later as a writer for Bates Creative Group. The SMAD/ Print Journalism major joined the ranks of Project HOPE shortly after and for the past three years has worked in donor relations and cultivation.
The most recognizable aspect of Project HOPE is the SS HOPE — a WWII destroyer refitted as a peacetime hospital ship. Although the humanitarian destroyer was retired in 1974, it continues to be a symbol of the organization’s success.
Five decades after its creation, Project HOPE remains true to its roots and, specifically, the principles of the People-to-People movement — a program created by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 aimed to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities. With health programs in more than 35 countries and donated supplies and volunteer medical help, Project HOPE is able to assist people in need as far away as Indonesia.
Project HOPE provides the pathway to achieve long-term solutions to heath problems around the world. Visit the Project HOPE website to see how you can Get Involved and become part of the effort to protect the lives of our global community.
Mike Jenkins (’04, ’05M) was always the biggest kid in class, and for this 6-foot-6, 385-pound JMU grad, bigger is better. Jenkins won the 2010 Arnold Amateur Strongman World Championship, earning a spot in the 2011 Pro Arnold Strongman Classic, where he was the runner-up this spring. Just six years after leaving Madison, Mike Jenkins is now the second strongest man in the world.
Jenkins told Madison he was pleased to “shock a ton of people in the strength world this year.” In finishing second Jenkins edged six-time Arnold champion Zydrunas Savickas, known throughout the world as the greatest strongman of all time.
A Westminster, Md. native, Jenkins started lifting weights in ninth grade. He continued strength training at JMU as a member of the football team and remembers being banned from UREC because of his extra workouts outside of team strength sessions. But nothing could stop this future strongman star. “I just got a membership to a local gym,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins, a former offensive lineman for the Dukes, was a senior on the 2004 JMU national championship team. “To be able to play my last game as a senior on ESPN and win as the underdog was unreal,” he told RXmuscle.com in February 2011. “Out of all the I-AA teams ONE ends the season on top … and at the end of the day we were on top looking down at the rest of them. I still think about it to this day. And if you want to see some ‘bling’ … I got some finger hardware to show you!”
Jenkins placed second in the 2009 North America’s Strongest Man, first in the 2007 Maryland’s Strongest Man competition and is the current world-record holder in the one-handed giant dumbbell press (eight reps of 242 pounds in 90 seconds).
Read more about Mike Jenkins in his interview with RXmuscle.com and his Be the Change profile.
From snipers and presidential elections to epidemics halfway around the world, internationally recognized reporter Tracey Neale (’89) has covered it all. Yet despite all the breaking news Neale has relayed to the public, it was a little girl in a polka dot dress that had the most influence on this respected and popular journalist.
Neale’s life was transformed after meeting an 18-month-old named Veronica, leading to the founding of “Veronica's Story” — a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for orphans and vulnerable children around the world.
In 2000, while covering the orphan crisis in Africa, Neale walked into Enhembane orphanage in South Africa and immediately felt a tug on her skirt. She wheeled around to find a giggling girl yelling “Mamma, Mamma!”
“It only took a few beautiful moments to know that I had just met my daughter,” Neale explains on the Veronica’s Story website.
The moments of elation were short lived however. Neale learned Veronica was HIV positive and thus could not be adopted. Later that year, Neale won the Edward R. Murrow award in recognition of her documentary on AIDS and the orphan epidemic. She used the winnings to jumpstart her efforts to help South African children. In honor of Veronica, Neale began to lay the foundations of a charity that would preserve the memory of the little girl in the polka dot dress.
Neale, a mass communications major who was named Washington D.C.’s “Outstanding News Anchor” three years in a row (2001-03), got her start in television reporting as a “shooter” for WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg. One day, with none of the usual reporters available, Neale volunteered to fill in. Feeing more at home in front of the camera than behind it, Neale got “the journalism bug." She went on to work for WSOC- TV (’91-’94), WUSA (CBS) and Fox 5 Washington (’94-’08), and currently is a program manager and anchor for BBC (Bermuda).
In the years since, including many additional trips to Africa and the Enhembane orphanage, Neale has adopted two children, Emebet Nigella and Eyasu Nigel. She told the Washington Post in a 2007 interview that although she misses being out on the cutting edge of news, her preference is to be at home with her kids. "My primary job is at night,” she said “and you can't change the hours."
Learn more about Veronica’s Story and the child who inspired it all on the organization’s website. And read more about Tracey Neale on her Be the Change profile.
Ryan McDougle (’93) is a strong proponent of public safety. The elected representative for Virginia’s 4th District recently worked closely with the Attorney General to pass a landmark piece of legislation aimed at protecting children from perpetrators of child pornography — living proof that your beliefs can help protect society.
This JMU graduate served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002-05 and was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2006. He first was elected to serve in the Senate in a Special Election where he captured 80% of the vote. In early 2010 McDougle was elected Republican Leader Pro Tempore by the Senate Republican Caucus.
Senator McDougle sits on the Senate Transportation, Courts of Justice, Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, and Rehabilitation and Social Services Committees. He also serves on the Virginia Code Commission and the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules and as a member of the Supreme Court’s Committee on District Courts. McDougle recently was appointed to serve as a representative of the Senate on the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.
After graduating from JMU with degrees in political science and history, McDougle went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from the College of William and Mary. He currently operates his own law practice, the McDougle Law Firm, P.C.
Learn more about Ryan McDougle, his positions and his history in office on his website.
It’s hard to find a student who has not been inspired by Dr. Mark Warner (’79, ’81M, ’85Ed.S). It’s even harder to find one who hasn’t heard his familiar catchphrase: “Create a Great Day.” A favorite among students, Warner is senior vice president for student affairs and university planning, a professor in the Psych Dept. and a highly sought after speaker on leadership.
“Leadership is the key to creating optimal organization, and leadership enables us to leave the greatest legacy we have to share — transformed lives,” Warner said.
Warner’s leadership course at JMU typically has a waiting list several semesters long. He has written two books on the subject: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Enhancing Self-Esteem and Inspiring Leadership: It’s Not About the Power — the latter co-written with JMU psychology professor Bill Evans.
“Dr. Warner's unique style of teaching was just one of the things that made him an outstanding role model,” former student Annelise Trubelhorn ('99) said. “I pattern my own teaching after his example.”
Warner earned the James Madison Distinguished Teaching Award in 1998. He now oversees 12 departments that are geared toward the students, from University Recreation to the Health Center, but teaching remains his passion. “I love student energy; I love the impact they can have on this campus,” he said.
Serving the local community, Warner acts as a consultant and speaker for businesses, governments, schools and churches. An ever-present legacy leader among the Madison community, he challenges students and faculty alike asking: “What legacy will you leave? … What will you do to be a citizen leader today?”
Warner closes his Madison article on leadership by telling readers that “the life of a legacy leader is an authentic life — one lived with integrity and passion for making a difference … touching the lives of many — both seen and unseen.” Mark Warner certainly is living proof of that.
Read key points of Mark Warner’s talk on “Legacy Leadership” given at Elon University’s 9th Annual Leadership Development Institute in Madison’s Summer 2006 issue (P. 54) and learn more in Annelise Trubelhorn’s Professor’s You Love article.
Constance Neely Wilson (’70) is a board-certified anesthesiologist, critical care physician-scientist and founder of Endacea, Inc. She is an active physician researcher who holds 16 U.S. patents. In March of 2011 she received one more award to add to her already impressive list: Wilson became the first alumna inducted into JMU’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Founded in 1776, the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest and most renowned academic honor society in the country. During the March ceremony, Wilson gave the keynote speech, addressing 108 undergraduates as they prepared for their own induction. She spoke of the trials of leading the life of an academic, but eloquently and reassuringly spoke from experience of the exceptional rewards of such labor.
Wilson, who holds a B.S. in chemistry, went on to earn an M.D. from the University of Virginia. She also completed pulmonary medicine postdoctoral research and respiratory intensive care/cardiology fellowships at Massachusetts General Hospital. For the next 21 years Wilson practiced medicine and in 1995 she founded the biopharmaceutical company, Endacea.
As Chief Scientific Officer and Director, Wilson leads the company’s ongoing research on adenosine receptors — proteins that have been identified as important in the treatment and suppression of inflammations associated with sepsis, asthma and renal impairment.
Wilson's research and life work has had tremendous influence on the medical community, saving many lives with her medical breakthroughs. Wilson’s research has implications for diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Constance Neely Wilson is a prime example of JMU’s Be the Change movement as she consistently works to utilize her intellectual talents for the benefit of others.
Read more about Wilson in Madison and learn more her work on the Endacea, Inc. website.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 sent shockwaves of patriotism throughout the United States. For Madison College student Emily Lewis Lee (’43), knitting cozies for grenades and buying defense stamps wasn’t enough. After graduating, she began the process of becoming a dietician in the Army Medical Corps.
The former Emily Lewis attended Johns Hopkins for a six-month internship, followed by an additional six months at Halloran Hospital on Staten Island. Shortly after, the home economics major arrived for medical basic training in Atlantic City, where hotels served as hospitals to ships unloading the wounded from Europe’s battlefields.
During World War II, Lieutenant Lee worked at the hospital station at Camp Rucker in Alabama (now Fort Rucker) and supervised nearly 60 employees. Among her many duties, Lee directed meal planning and the preparation of three meals a day for anywhere from 350 to 400 hospital patients, including those with special dietary needs.
While stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C., Lee met her husband, Luther. “I outranked him when we were married,” she told Montpelier. “I was a first lieutenant; he was a second then.”
Throughout the years Lee has remained involved with JMU. In 2003, she donated $50,000 to establish the World War II Garden Patio at the Leeolou Alumni Center. The patio features a bronze plaque, benches and flowers in honor and remembrance of JMU alumni and friends who served in WWII. A framed plaque listing the 110 WWII veterans resides inside the alumni center.
From 1980-83, Lee served on JMU’s Board of Visitors, where she chaired the Education and Student Life Committee and the Alumni Relations Committee. Lee also served as Secretary for the Alumni Association's Board of Directors and received JMU's Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1981. In the late 70s, Lee was her class' "fund agent" and is largely responsible for procuring funding for the University's processional mace.
Read more about Emily Lewis Lee in Montpelier.
Baseball is known as America’s pastime, but in Virginia, it’s not just bats, bases and ballcaps that embody the American spirit — it’s the smell of oil and the sound of speeding cars on the track. Although NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler races a blue and white OneMain Financial Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc., his roots are all purple and gold.
The Emporia, Va. native is one of only 22 drivers to have won a race in each of NASCAR’s top three divisions. Racing is a long-standing Sadler family tradition, beginning nearly 45 years ago. Sadler’s father, Herman, and his brothers raced on the short tracks of Virginia while growing up. Just as his father before him, Sadler received his training on the short tracks of his home state, and at the age of seven he climbed behind the wheel of his first go-cart. It was not long before the young driver began to show the talent of a promising racing future.
In 1997, team owner Gary Bechtel tabbed the young driver to pilot his car on the Nationwide Tour. Two years later Sadler entered the Winston Cup series. He earned his first win at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2001.
In 2003, Sadler and his older brother, Hermie — an announcer for Speed — teamed up with JMU and the Duke Club to sponsor a "Go Team VA" JMU paint-scheme Chevrolet in the Winston Cup race at Martinsville Speedway
Read more about the event in Montpelier and learn more about Elliott Sadler and his racing career at his website.
In the summer of 2003, U.S. Marine Eric Johnson (’95) was back in Kuwait without much to do. His unit — the 4th Civil Affairs Group — relocated to Iraq with the mission of keeping civilians away from battle areas during combat, and arranging for humanitarian aid when possible. Upon returning to Kuwait and awaiting further instruction, Johnson busied himself by reading Shakespeare.
Before joining the Marines, Johnson worked for The Washington Times as a Web development manager and occasionally reviewed plays for the paper. He was familiar with Shakespeare but always read the play text before seeing the performance. Frustrated with the lack of free and comprehensive Shakespearean databases, Johnson decided to fix the problem himself.
In 2001, Johnson began to build a Shakespeare repository site, but job and family duties prevented him from working on what he called the “Shakespeare database project.” Two years later, the project was reborn in the desert of Kuwait.
Now called “Open Source Shakespeare,” Johnson’s carefully crafted database attracts scholars and casual readers alike. “[People just] might want to know how you take a 400-year-old collection of texts and put them into a medium that did not exist before 1990,” Johnson said.
There is no definitive edition of any Shakespearean play or piece of writing because no original manuscripts survived the test of time. All of his works were published posthumously and therefore were vulnerable to alteration. Two actors from Shakespeare’s company published the First Folio in 1623, and were followed by many others with their reshaped editions. For OSS, Johnson performed side-by-side comparison of various play texts.
As for the future of OSS, Johnson hopes to include some of the variant texts, as well as folio and quarto images, and audio and video clips. Johnson has hopes to eventually build another site devoted to the Gospels or the works of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Whether you are a scholar, a student in search of Shakespeare help, or merely curious about the playwright, check out Open Source Shakespeare. Read about how OSS got started in Be the Change and learn more about Johnson’s story in his Be the Change profile.
Colin Pine (’96) was a law student looking for a full-time job as a translator when he got word of a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The NBA was looking for a native English speaker to interpret Mandarin for a U.S.-bound basketball player. Although the player’s name remained anonymous, Pine —an avid basketball fan — knew exactly who it was: future Houston Rockets star Yao Ming.
Pine sent off his resume and two months later — after phone interviews, translation tests and personal interviews — he received a call from Yao’s agent. By the end of the month, Pine was at work, implementing his fascination with Asian culture, language and love of basketball with his translation skills. In 2002 he became Yao's language teacher, American-culture expert, traveling companion, driver and, most importantly, his close friend.
As an undergraduate, Pine studied literature, which he says prepared him for his future in translation. "I love just getting into the text," he told Montpelier. "Reading, especially fiction, allows you to see into somebody else's thought process better than almost anything else." With no clear plan after graduation, and at the suggestion of his Asian History teacher, Chong Kun Yoon, Pine studied Mandarin Chinese in an intensive summer camp in Taipei, Taiwan — a city he would live in for three years.
Pine knew his days as Yao’s language coach were not meant to last forever — after all, part of his job was to help the recently retired NBA star learn English so he wouldn’t need an interpreter. Still, Pine spent three busy years with Yao, and although he no longer is “the voice in Yao Ming’s ear,” the two remain close friends. Pine currently is the Director, Global Merchandising Group for NBA China and interpreted for Yao at his July retirement ceremony in Shanghai.
Learn more about Colin Pine in Montpelier and read more about Pine and Ming in a 2011 Wall Street Journal interview shortly after Ming’s retirement.
Today marks the halfway point of our “100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Dukes” campaign, and the Alumni Association thought it would be a fitting time to honor a true champion of JMU’s “Be the Change” movement, Madison managing editor Michelle Hite (’88).
For 12 years, Hite has worked to elevate the university’s alumni magazine, expanding its circulation to 120,000. She dedicates each day to recognizing other alumni — telling their stories and sharing their accomplishments. Today it’s our turn to recognize her.
JMU’s mission statement declares this university is “a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.” As students graduate and leave the JMU campus to start building their future, Madison is devoted to bringing their stories back to where they began. Madison, formerly known as Montpelier, shares the stories of those who walked this campus, sat in these classrooms and grew into those enlightened citizens within the framework of this institution.
As Madison managing editor, Hite sifts through every article and finds a place for it in the upcoming issue. She manages all writers and photographers and is integral to making sure each magazine embodies the spirit and objectives of JMU. Most importantly, she ensures that the culture of innovation and involvement — characteristics that have become the hallmark of Madison graduates — is chronicled, remembered and celebrated.
Hite received the JMU Distinguished Service award in 2005 and the Community Leadership Institute of Staunton/Augusta County Chamber of Commerce in 2002. She was a town council member and vice mayor of Craigsville, Va. from 1992-2000, and a Centennial Dukes Advisor from 2001-2008.
The next time you walk through the front doors of a JMU building, look to the side to find the Madison Newsstand and pick up a copy for yourself. Michelle Hite’s story — that of the storyteller — fills every page.
Read Madison online and view old uploaded copies of Montpelier.
Eight months after he was born, Evin Shoap (’06, ’07M) was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart muscle and affects its function. At 15, he received a heart transplant. Yet despite all the struggle, Shoap’s capacity for compassion never waned, and he never stopped helping others.
Friends remember how Shoap never complained or asked for sympathy and never wanted anyone worrying about him. “You didn’t just meet Evin. He touched your life,” friend Becky Shantz told Be the Change.
Shoap earned degrees in English and secondary education and began working toward his master’s in teaching in 2007. As an undergraduate, he used his experience to help others and founded the JMU chapter of Students for Organ and Tissue Donation, a nonprofit organized to educate the public and increase donations. He also was a member of JMU Hillel and was a member of The Breeze photography staff.
As he progressed into adulthood, Shoap had periodic transplant rejection spells. In January 2007 his heart condition took a turn for the worse. On March 24, 2007, the Madison community, and the world, lost Evin Shoap — a great role model, and an even better friend.
Shoap’s legacy — marked by unremitting kindness and a commitment to helping others — endures. In June 2010 his mother organized a group of Evin’s friends, including six JMU alumni, for the inaugural WRTC 5K race. “Team Evin” was one of the largest groups at the event.
Read more about Evin Shoap on his Be the Change article. Learn more about the JMU chapter of Students for Organ and Tissue Donation.
Andrew York (’80) was a member of the Grammy award-wining Los Angeles Guitar Quartet for 16 years. He has more than 50 published works, has appeared in 3 DVDs and recorded or appeared on more than 10 soloist albums. But when York enrolled at Madison — fittingly, on the strength of a guitar audition — there wasn’t a guitar program for him to study.
York picked up the guitar at age six and never put it down. After learning classical techniques and discovering rock and roll as a teenager, he came to Madison to further develop his talent. But without a guitar program in place, York was forced to study flute as a freshman. Thankfully, before long, a guitar professor joined the faculty, enabling York to earn his degree of music in classical guitar performance. Oh, and he put that first year to good use as well, completing a minor in flute.
York went on to earn his master’s in music from the University of Southern California. He later became the only USC graduate in the school’s history to twice receive the Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award (in 1997 as a member of the LAGQ and as a sole recipient in 2003).
During his 20-year partnership with LAGQ — York started playing with the group in 1986 and became an official member in 1990 — the group won a Grammy, was nominated two additional times, recorded with major labels like Sony and Telarc, and preformed in over 50 countries.
Since leaving the quartet in 2006, York has been working on his solo career. He has recorded 5 albums and published a three-volume work on in-depth jazz study for classical guitarists.
Learn more about Andrew York by visiting his website.
When Ronald E. Carrier arrived at Madison in 1971, he envisioned turning a small, predominantly women’s college into a full-fledged university. While the vision was Carrier’s, the promotion fell to another: Fred Hilton (’96M). Hilton joined the administration in 1972 as director of public information and worked closely with the new president to shape the public’s perception of Madison.
Except when called on to speak in his role as university spokesman, Hilton stayed in the shadows. Yet everyone in the media knew whom to call for information about JMU. He quickly earned the respect of the press because he understood what they wanted, having been a reporter at the Roanoke Times.
With an ability to finesse information — that included a role as speechwriter — and to consistently strike the perfect balance between promotion and information, Hilton helped shape Madison’s public persona as an exciting and innovative institution. He put Madison out there for all to see and in doing so seeded JMU’s growing reputation.
Everyone in the region noticed, especially students. A few years into the new Madison’s history, applications topped both the University of Virginia and The College of William and Mary — one testimony to Hilton’s success.
The Wytheville, Va., native earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Virginia. Later he added a master’s in history from JMU. His thesis? A study of the Carrier administration, about which he wrote with special insight.
In 2005, the College Communicators Association of Virginia and the District of Columbia awarded Hilton their Distinguished Service Award. That year, he became director of the university’s Centennial Celebration. With characteristic competence and commitment, the unflappable Hilton directed a four-year effort, involving hundreds of alumni, staff, faculty and community members to mark the Madison Century. It also capped off his professional career, which had seen changes in Madison that were nothing short of spectacular.
When Hilton retired at the close of the Centennial, after 36 years at Madison, he left behind a changed university with a stellar reputation that was created in large part by his own exceptional legacy of service.
Off the coast of Panama, on a little island chain called Bocas del Toro, lives a small volunteer community with a big vision and an even bigger heart. JMU alum Neil Christiansen (’06) told Madison that he always knew he wanted to volunteer around the world, and when he couldn’t find the right organization he decided to make his own.
Founded on Christiansen’s biggest passions — volunteering and surfing — Give and Surf, Inc. works with the indigenous community, the Ngobe-Bugle people, as well as the local townspeople of the Old Bank to improve sanitation and hygiene to avoid disease and improve the overall standard of living. At the end of each day, volunteers surf with locals, give surf lessons, snorkel and explore the island.
Give and Surf's first project was to create a playground for the Ngobe children. Its next one is to create a preschool for the village. Give and Surf expects it immediately to benefit 20 children between the ages of three and five. “I have a feeling this is going to mean huge things for the newest and youngest generation of Bahia Honda,” Christiansen said.
“Starting this organization is a healthy passion full of ups and downs, but I love every minute of it because the headaches are my own, created by something I can call my own,” he said.
Help Give and Surf, Inc. with the Preschool Book Drive on Amazon or make a direct donation to support the project. Learn more about Neil Christiansen and the Give and Surf community on their website, and keep an eye out for Christianson’s feature article in the Fall issue of Madison.
When three-year-old Chris Sprouse (’88) was not allowed to play outside due to the dangerous amount of snakes in his house yard in New Delhi, India, he turned to comic books and drawing — interests that were encouraged by his parents and would last a lifetime. To this day, the early skills formed during his time overseas continue to influence his life.
Sprouse moved to India with his family as a young child. After three very influential years, he returned to the United States and grew up in Dale City, Va. After creating his own comic strips in high school, Sprouse went on to earn a BFA in graphic design from Madison. His comic career took off in 1989 with his first credited work: a Chemical King story in an issue of DC Comics' Secret Origins. Although primarily a pencil artist, Sprouse also has worked as an inker, cover artist, and writer for “The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore” (2003) and “Modern Masters” (2003).
Influenced by the comic greats of the 80s like John Byrne and Walt Simonson, Sprouse said he used to draw like everybody else. “[My style] just sort of evolved. Whatever I was reading at the time, my stuff would look like that, at least a bad version of that,” he said in an interview with ComicsBulletin.
“Going to college and having professors tell you, ‘Draw what you see,’ I think it broke a lot of bad habits. But now, having been in comics for almost twenty years, I’ve got a lot of new bad habits that I need to watch out for.”
To view some of Chris Sprouse’s work visit COMMICART COMMUNITY and keep up with his career by visiting his blog.
From biology lectures to performing on the main stage and back, Reshma Shetty (’99) is making a name for herself in Hollywood. The biology major turned music performance major revisits her initial career choice as she plays the role of physician’s assistant, Divya Katdare, on USA Today’s hit show “Royal Pains.”
Shetty came to JMU as a pre-med student with sights on becoming a doctor, but soon realized she belonged on a stage. She told Be the Change that "after a few months, the creative side of me started to rebel and counter the very stark science classes I was enrolled in."
Although the Richmond native recalls always wanting to be a drama student, acting was not the most acceptable career path for an Indian girl. Once Shetty got a taste of the support and passion of the arts at JMU, however, that was all the push she needed to make the change. "At JMU, I had teachers who believed in me,” she said, “and here I am on national television!"
Shetty went on to stun professors with her beautiful voice, avidity to act and potential as a performer. She graduated from Madison magna cum laude and then earned a master’s from University of Kentucky Opera Theatre. She later studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
In 2006, Shetty portrayed the character Priya in the Broadway play “Bombay Dreams” and starred in the off-Broadway play “Rafta Rafta.” She also made an appearance on NBC’s “30 Rock” in 2007.
"Reshma was always completely self-possessed and very forthright,” voice (tenor) professor John Little told Be the Change. “Combined with her good looks and beautiful singing voice, I always figured that she couldn't miss as a performer."
Read more about Reshma Shetty in her Be the Change profile.
This past January, Jason Glass (’99) was promoted to Principal at Summit Partners. Based out of the company’s Boston office, the finance and international business major joined the growth equity investor firm as a vice president in 2006 and has been making strides within the organization ever since he arrived.
Summit Partners focuses on a wide range of transactions from leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations to growth capital, venture capital investments and mezzanine capital.
As an undergraduate student, Glass minored in economics and French, graduating summa cum laude. After JMU, Glass attended Harvard Business School, where he earned his MBA with distinction.
Glass started his career as a banker at Deutsche Bank and went on to work for several years at AOL in their marketing and corporate development offices. This Duke also worked with General Catalyst Partners and was a founding team member of EONS Inc. His board directorships and investments include Casa Systems, Focus Financial Partners, Nomacorc, and PeopleAdmin.
At Summit Partners, Glass is active in the firm’s investment activities in North America, Europe and Asia. As vice president in the Boston office, he focused on private equity investments in growing, profitable companies, and placed a special emphasis on technology and software opportunities.
Regardless of his career successes, Glass maintains his relationship with JMU — where it all began — and is a member of the James Madison University College of Business Executive Advisory Council.
Grassroot Soccer Inc., with a vision of a world mobilized through soccer, educates, inspires and encourages communities to stop the spread of HIV. Wes Mitchell (’10) — an intern with the nonprofit — helps deliver the organization’s “Skillz” curriculum to children and young adults between the ages of 12 and 18 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
But why soccer? Mitchell, a four-year member of the JMU men’s club soccer team, can provide the answer. It is a sport with the power to form communities that build friendships, craft respect and shape leaders. GRS recognized soccer as something that can put a smile on a child’s face, even under the worst circumstances.
Soccer provides the framework within which the Skillz curriculum can take root. Volunteers and interns like Mitchell instruct the Skillz sessions, which focus on building basic life skills to help boys and girls adopt healthy behaviors and live risk-free. Through a series of interactive activities and discussions, GRS helps students gain a tangible understanding of HIV and AIDS. It provides a setting for students to practice the skills necessary for sustainable behavior change.
Before moving to Malawi, Mitchell — a political science major with minors in communications and African studies — also interned at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.
"I would eventually like to get more involved with African politics and economics, but I love working for Grassroot Soccer and influencing young people in Malawi," Mitchell told Madison.
Read more about Wes Mitchell in Madison, follow him on his travels through his blog, and learn more about Grassroot Soccer’s mission to stop the spread of HIV.
In 1976 Billy Sample (’77) became a trendsetter in the history of the JMU baseball program. During the 10th round of the ‘76 amateur draft, Sample became the first Madison player to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team. Every year since, (except for two) at least one JMU baseball player has signed a professional contract.
Sample made his major league debut for the Texas Rangers on Sept. 2, 1978. The right-handed hitter initially started as a second baseman but quickly transitioned to the outfield. The Salem, Va. native was named to the Topps All-Rookie Team in 1979 and played for the Rangers (’78-84), the New York Yankees (’85) and the Atlanta Braves (’86). He had his best season in 1983, hitting .274 and stealing 44 bases.
Sample appeared in 826 major league games before embarking on a career in media. He worked as a sports broadcaster for the Braves, Seattle Mariners and California Angels, and also contributed to NPR, CBS Radio, ESPN, MLB.com, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and USA Today.
Most recently, Sample won the Best Unproduced Screenplay award at the 2011 Hoboken Film Festival for a script titled “Reunion 108.”
Although 25 years have passed since his final major-league game, Sample remains a skilled player and participated in the third annual Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown, N.Y. last month. Sample played third base and scored a run in the second inning.
View Billy Sample’s career stats and read more about his life off the field.
Known as the enthusiastic girl next door with a passion for sports, Lindsay Czarniak (’00) recently made the ultimate jump in sports television to ESPN. From NASCAR pit reporting to exclusive “Lunch With Lindsay” interviews to Olympic coverage, Czarniak has done it all. And yet, she’s also just getting started.
For Czarniak, covering sports runs in the family — her father, Chet Czarniak, was a sports reporter and editor for USA Today. “Watching my dad and hearing his stories was part of growing up,” Czarniak told The Washington Post.
Czarniak, who holds a degree in online journalism, began her career as a production assistant for CNN. Her first on-air role occurred with WAWS-TV in Jacksonville, Fla. Czarniak also worked for WTEV-TV and WTVJ, where she hosted Fins TV — The Miami Dolphins show. Until her move to ESPN, she most recently had worked at NBC Washington.
The Pennsylvania native learned a great many things from her mentor, legendary sports anchor George Michael. Connect with the audience, Michael told Czarniak. Don't just read the prompter. Know it. Say it. Believe it. When Michael left News4 in 2007, he handed his job as lead sports anchor to Czarniak (and Dan Hellie, another Michael protégé).
"He kicked my butt,” Czarniak said, remembering phone call critiques from Michael. “[But] I came out smarter on the other side. I think he really sharpened me.
“I really valued his high standards, and I learned from them," she continued before quickly adding that everyone has his or her own style. “I know I do.”
Read more about Lindsay and how she got her start in broadcasting in Madison.
It takes a keen eye, talent and dedication to take photos like JMU grad Casey Templeton (’06). The 2005 College Photographer of the Year’s style is consistent, no matter the subject, and centers on color, lighting and an honest display of emotion — in many ways the hallmarks of a good photographer and a gifted storyteller.
Templeton’s interest in photography started in middle school when he found an old 35mm camera. Many years have passed since the days Templeton eagerly waited for his mother to bring home his weekly role of developed film, but his passion for photography and capturing the moment remains unchanged.
As an undergraduate Templeton studied media arts and design and worked for Madison, The Breeze, Curio, The Roanoke Times and Staunton Daily News Leader. Now a freelance photographer, Templeton has the freedom to travel for various projects and clients or work locally, close to his family. “Working for myself is so much more gratifying,” he told SMAD News. Some of Templeton’s big-name clients include Apple, Wal-Mart, The New York Times, National Geographic and Philip-Morris USA.
In a 2006 interview shortly after being named College Photographer of the Year, Templeton advised aspiring photographers to be willing to do something different. “Sometimes that's not going to work out,” he said. “But you have to be willing to learn from it.”
Those are telling words. For it is under difficult conditions, surrounded by the unfamiliar, that an artist is challenged to innovate — a time when personal style labors to find creative material in the most unlikely places. That’s a challenge Casey Templeton tackles with every photo.
Read Templeton’s Be the Change profile and his article in SMAD News. And for business and photography tips, or to see what Casey Templeton is up to next, visit his blog.
The first line of the AmeriCorps pledge is a simple and straightforward statement: “I will get things done for America.” Kim Wheeler (’09) certainly has. Shortly after her graduation from JMU, Wheeler joined the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps with a vision of traveling around the country and helping others.
Alongside 10 teammates, Wheeler worked for 10 nonprofit organizations and performed more than 100 hours of volunteer work for 15 additional nonprofits. She told Madison that NCCC provides “many opportunities that I am interested in — like travel, service projects, and teamwork with people my age.”
Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to get involved with local and national nonprofit groups. NCCC is a full-time residential program for men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service.
During her time in NCCC, Wheeler fought fires in Idaho, helped clean the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, renovated Indian reservations in South Dakota and raised money for children’s cancer research.
A media arts and design major and sport communication minor, Wheeler credited part of her motivation to make a difference to her experience as a Student Ambassador.
“The friends I made as a Student Ambassador are all incredibly motivated and inspiring people,” she said. “[They] made me want to be a better person.”
Visit the AmeriCorps website for more information. And read more about Wheeler and her AmeriCorps adventure in Madison’s article “Discovering America.”
In 1993 Patricia Southall (’92) became the first African-American woman to win the Miss Virginia USA title. She later went on to finish as the first runner-up in the 1994 Miss USA Pageant. But this wife, mother, television host, former actress and beauty queen is best known for her dedication to community involvement, female empowerment and charity work.
As an undergraduate Smith was SGA president and a member of Delta Sigma Theta. The journalism major later branched into television with a career including roles and guest appearances on Beverly Hills 90210, Sunset Beach and The Wayans Brothers Show. She also has been a guest host for Access Hollywood and is the host of Keep the Faith.
In an effort to inspire others to pursue their passions, Smith founded “Treasure You.” She hosts a weekly television show in which she interviews women who embody the “Treasure You” message: “Building a community that supports, inspires and celebrates women in their journey to discover their self-worth.”
Smith also created “Page’s Angels” — named after her mother, who passed away from breast cancer — to provide essential support resources for women in need. “Page’s Angels” currently provides mental health care to women unable to afford treatment and supports other organizations providing care and resources for women and girls.
Smith, along with her husband — NFL Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith — founded The Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities to create unique educational experiences and enrichment opportunities for underserved youth. Additionally, Pat Smith currently is a role model for the Dallas Elevators mentor program, which works with area high school students.
Learn more about the Dallas Elevators mentor program, Treasure You and the Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities.
No person can walk through downtown Harrisonburg without noticing the giant tree inside 150 S. Main Street. Unfortunately for adults, the two-story tree with a lighted canopy is for kids only! It is one of many interactive exhibits in the Explore More Discovery Museum — Harrisonburg’s very own children’s museum.
Seven years ago, Lisa Shull (’85, ‘91M), a former elementary school teacher and supervisor of student teachers for JMU's College of Education, saw a need for a place in Harrisonburg where children could learn while playing and having fun. Shull soon discovered children’s museums with her own kids and decided to create one.
Shull now is the executive director of the Explore More Discovery Museum, which recently relocated to a larger location next to the Massanutten Regional Library. “It’s a place where children can follow their interests, set their own pace, interact positively with parents and caregivers and discover new opportunities for talents,” Shull told Be The Change.
With dozens of events every week, from “Paint and Play” to “Decadent Desserts” to “Construction Junction,” the museum hosts 35,000 visitors annually. In the past, the museum also has partnered with JMU as physics professors held workshops to help younger children grasp the concepts of electricity.
Read more about Lisa Shull and the children’s museum in the Be The Change article “Play, learn, Succeed.” And visit the Explore More Discovery Museum website to plan a visit.
Biogeochemist and geologist Jennifer Eigenbrode (’94) is making her way to Mars — a journey that started in a stratigraphy class at JMU. With expertise in organic and isotope geochemistry and interests in astrobiology, Eigenbrode designed one of the experiments on the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument included on a mobile NASA laboratory that will land on the red planet in 2012.
After graduating with a geology degree, Eigenbrode went on to earn her M.S. in geological sciences from Indiana University (’99), her Ph.D. in geosciences from Penn State (’04) and performed a postdoctoral fellowship (’04-’06) at the Geological Laboratory at Carnegie Institution of Washington.
In 2007, Eigenbrode joined the Atmospheric Experiments Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to work on the SAM instrument. Her current research platform includes investigations of biosignatures in planetary and lunar analogs, evolution of Earth’s early biosphere, and isotopic analysis of organics in sample return materials.
“Mars was a lot different 3.5 billion years ago,” Eigenbrode said in a NASA news release. “Maybe life existed back then. Maybe it has persisted, which is possible given the fact that we've found life in every extreme environment here on Earth. If life existed on Mars, maybe it adapted very much like life adapted here.”
Should SAM find the molecules it will search for, Eigenbrode’s experiment will provide details about the evolution of large organic molecules made up of smaller molecules, such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Although she hopes SAM will reveal information about the planet’s carbon cycle, Eigenbrode is prepared for any result. “Even if we don’t detect signs of life, we might learn why not,” she said.
Spoken like a true scientist.
Read more about Jennifer Eigenbrode in Madison and learn more about her experiment on the NASA website.
Lawrence Jackson (’90) always looks for three things when it comes to photography: The emotion of the story, the story within the shot, and the information it provides. With a Canon 5D Mark II in hand, a good eye for aesthetics and President Barack Obama close by, Jac kson has plenty of material to work with.
Jackson is one of five official White House photographers, shooting 9,000 images a week as he documents the Obama presidency. Capturing both public and private moments, no day is normal for this Madison graduate. He’s taken pictures of official dinners, bill signings and meetings with dignitaries and world leaders. Last year Jackson traveled to London, the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramids in Egypt.
Jackson started taking pictures as a young teen with his Pentax K1000 and hasn’t stopped since. With a degree in journalism and photography, he called JMU “a great marriage of university and small town city life.”
After college, Jackson interned at various newspapers and worked at The Virginian-Pilot (10 years) and the Associated Press (five years) before becoming a White House photographer. “To be a part of the photo staff documenting this presidency through these times is very special,” Jackson told Rocktown Press.
Jackson witnesses history every day — and through his photographic records he enables the rest of the world to experience it as well.
To see more of Lawrence Jackson’s work, visit his website. And for more information about this alum, read the 2010 Curio centerfold article, “From Madison to Washington”.
Dave Rexrode (’01) brings purple into GOP politics. The Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia, Rexrode’s duties are to help elect Republicans at all levels — from school boards to president of the United States. He also advocates the core principles of the Republican party and works to build grassroots efforts to help candidates get elected.
Aside from politics, this JMU legacy (Rexrode’s grandmother was a Class of 1941 graduate) is an avid Dukes fan, a member of the Duke Club, and sits on the JMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.
With a degree in public policy and administration, Rexrode says JMU’s “phenomenal” political science department aptly prepared him for his current position. “The unique thing about JMU is that professors encourage people to find opportunities to lead and to do things outside the classroom,” he told Madison.
As an undergraduate, Rexrode was involved with University Unions and Theta Chi. As two-time Theta Chi president, Rexrode started the “12 Days Project” in which fraternity brothers sleep on the Commons for 12 days to collect money and toys for Harrisonburg children. The project raised $5,000 and 3,000 toys. Today it is an annual charity.
Rexrode, like his counterpart in Virginia politics, David Mills, has a spouse familiar with government. Fellow JMU grad Kathryn Scott Rexrode (’00) is the communications director for Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R). The Rexrodes live in Stafford, Va.
Learn more about Dave Rexrode in his interview with Madison.
Two different JMU graduates. Two different political parties. And, incredibly enough, the same exact job. Alumni David Mills (’02) and Dave Rexrode (’01) hold mirroring positions as the executive directors of Virginia’s Democratic and Republican parties, helping shape the future of the Old Dominion's political landscape.
Mills (’02), a political science major, told Madison, “If you would have told me in 2000 during David A. Jones’ political science course on Elections that 10 years later I would be in this position [one of two Daves heading Virginia’s primary political parties] I would not have believed it.”
As an undergraduate, Mills was involved in the Student Government Association and the Senior Class Challenge. Since graduation, he has served as deputy finance director for Governor Tim Kaine (‘04-‘05), DPVA finance director (06-08), finance director for delegate Brian Moran’s campaign for Governor (08-09), Northern Virginia finance director for Senator Creigh Deeds (‘09), and manager of campaigns for the Virginia state legislature and Congress.
Mills says the biggest thrill so far has been meeting other states’ Democratic party executive directors. “It’s a little bit like a club. They are going through the same things you are experiencing, so it’s nice knowing you are not alone.”
There is little separation between work and home for Mills. His wife, Jennifer McClellan, serves in the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 71st District. “It’s great to have a spouse who understands the sacrifices that politics and public service demand,” Mills said.
The Mills currently live in Richmond, Va. with their son, Jack.
Learn more about Dave Mills in his interview with Madison. And stay tuned tomorrow for our profile on Dave Rexrode.
After 58 years, four name changes, dramatic alterations to the campus and growth under the leadership of three presidents, the Madison College student population still was relatively homogeneous when it came to race. Sheary Darcus Johnson (’70, ’74M) initiated change as one of two black students to enroll at Madison College in 1966 and the first black female to graduate.
Today, James Madison University prides itself on celebrating and embracing the uniqueness of every individual. The growing number of programs, clubs, chapters, services and committees express JMU’s commitment to promote diversity awareness — an effort rooted in JMU’s value of helping others.
On and off campus, Johnson is a fitting model of this effort. In 2009 she founded Better People Inc., a Richmond, Va.-based non-profit that provides monetary support and other services to the poor in the area. The Staunton, Va. native also is the president of the Women in Ministry Connection — an organization that provides opportunities for networking, mentoring, spiritual enrichment and collaborative support for the ministering of women who serve others.
Johnson earned her doctorate in education from U.Va in 1988, and received the doctor of Christian Education Degree award from Living Waters Institute in 2008. She is the president and co-founder of Faith Chapter Young Women’s Christian League and worked to expand the league to seven chapters across the nation.
Visit Better People Inc. to learn more about Sheary Darcus Johnson and Women in Ministry Connection.
Weeks before her graduation, Cynthia Coolbaugh (’70) was banned from attending commencement due to her participation in an April sit-in protest in Wilson Hall. Although the psychology major received her degree, Coolbaugh and her family were not allowed to attend graduation ceremonies. A long way from her peaceful protest days, Coolbaugh continues to labor toward peace — now with a global perspective.
For the past 14 years Coolbaugh has worked in Vienna, Austria with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). She currently is the section head for Conference Services, organizing the forums for international diplomatic discussions.
The IAEA is a United Nations agency whose mission is to promote the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and to ensure that the assistance it provides is not used for military use. According to the IAEA website, its key roles contribute to international peace and security and to the world's Millennium Goals for social, economic and environmental development.
In 2005 the IAEA received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work. In the face of excitement and gratitude after winning the award, Coolbaugh boldly stated that many challenges are ahead. “The fight against nuclear terrorism and significant expansion of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes [continues],” Coolbaugh said.
“We live in interesting and trying times,” Coolbaugh told Madison in 2006, “and the work of the agency is ever increasing.”
To learn more about the IAEA, visit its website. To read more about Cynthia Coolbaugh, view the Madison article “Madison ‘radical’ goes international” (P 44).
If you’ve listened to the Washington Wizards during the past decade, you probably recognize the signature “Daggggggger!” call from play-by-play announcer Steve Buckhantz (’77). After 37 years of broadcasting experience, Buckhantz, a four-time Emmy winner, is one of the longest-tenured sportscasters in the D.C. Metro area.
Buckhantz, entering his 14th season as the television voice of the Wizards on Comcast SportsNet, graduated from Madison with a B.S. in Communication and received the Ronald E. Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1995. He got his first taste of television journalism as one of Madison’s first interns at WHSV Channel 3 (an ABC affiliate te
levision station serving 14 counties in the Shenandoah Valley and West Virginia).
The Arlington, Va. native started his television-announcing career as Sports Director at WTTG, a Fox affiliate in D.C., and later was promoted to lead anchor, remaining with the station for 14 years.
Before television, Buckhantz was the voice of the morning radio show on DC 101 and AM 1260, was the official play-by-play announcer for Navy football and was a freelance play-by-play announcer for professional and college teams, including an occasional JMU game, on HTS.
For the past 15 years Buckhantz has been the spokesman for the Steve Buckhantz/St. Jude Celebrity Golf Tournament, which to date has raised close to $3 million to benefit research at the children's hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Learn more about Steve Buckhantz by reading his story in Montpelier.
On the day of the final Space Shuttle launch earlier this month, we recognized NASA research scientist Dan Irwin (’90). Today, on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we remember NASA pioneer and Madison College alumna Elizabeth Wilson Gauldin (’50), a chemistry and biology major who played an important role in the development of the American space program.
After graduating from Madison, Gauldin performed thermal-dynamic calculations for a Richmond-based company contracted with the U.S. Navy to test and research rocket fuel. In 1967 — not long after the cockpit fire that killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on the Apollo 1 launch pad —
; Gauldin began her career with NASA as a technical writer at the Johnson Space Cente
r. She soon was recruited by General Electric to be part of a team under contract with NASA.
This team was crucial in helping NASA redesign and fabricate fire-resistant furnishings and materials for the interior of Apollo’s command module. “A lot of new technology — co-developed or shared with industry” and others, such as the nation's firefighters, Gaudlin told Montpelier in 1998. It was a critical step toward getting Apollo back on the path to the moon.
In 1970, when the Apollo 13 mission developed life-threatening problems, Gauldin played an instrumental role in engineering the solution that saved the lives of Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, finding a way to transfer the carbon dioxide canisters — which scrubbed the air of deadly CO2 — from the command module to the lunar module.
Aside from her career with NASA, Gauldin “had a great heart for the forgotten of the world, the downtrodden, and the lost,” her daughter Catherine said. Gauldin was a tutor at the shelter, Open Door Mission, where she encouraged people to work toward their GED and liberation from a hopeless life on the street.
Gaudlin also volunteered as a tutor for elementary school children, became involved with the volunteer program at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, and was a mentor at the Krause Children’s Center and at the Harris County Boot Camp.
“She willingly offered herself in the hard places of the world,” Catherine said, “because she knew those were the places where compassion can make the most impact.”
Learn more about Gauldin in Montpelier and read her Be the Change profile.
Get students talking. That’s all Kai Degner’s (’03, M’05) wanted to achieve. Not protesting — not fighting or bickering — just talking. It was 2003 when one of Degner’s friends — a fellow second semester senior also finishing his senior project — received news that he would be deployed to Kuwait within a week. Degner was “jolted” into action.
Degner, along with three other classmates, simply wanted people to recognize the seriousness of the debate over the war in Iraq. “It wasn’t that people were just accepting one side, it was that no one was even talking about it,” Degner told Montpelier in 2004.
Whatever the group would do, Degner knew that “it was very important to create a visual impact.” And what better way to do that than with the most clashing color of all: orange.
A strip of orange cloth that could be pinned to a backpack or worn as an armband would serve as an invitation for conversation, not confrontation, of ideas or opposing viewpoints. A week later, 2,000 orange bands with words — “War” “Abortion” “Gay Rights” “Patriotism” “Prayer” — sprinkled campus and launched the OrangeBand Initiative. It eventually grew to attract national attention.
Degner graduated from JMU with a degree in ISAT. He earned his MBA in 2005. The former mayor of Harrisonburg and current city council member also serves as the Director of Business Services at the Fairfield Center and remains an OrangeBand leader.
Learn more about the OrangeBand Initiative and read more about how it began in the Montpelier article “Not Left, Not Right, Just Orange.”
On Sept. 15, 2010 Janice C. Wiley (’77) was exiting the serving line at school with one of her students when she caught a glimpse of an unexpected and distressing sight — that of her husband. Wiley soon was put at ease. With a kiss from her spouse and a letter of congratulations from her superintendent, Wiley learned of her nomination as a 2011 Virginia Teacher of the Year representative.
Wiley, who represents Virgin
ia Area 5, subsequently became a candidate for the national Mary V. Bicouvaris Virginia Teacher of the Year award. The 34-year teaching veteran is an early childhood special education instructor at Hutcherson Early Learning Center in Lynchburg City. “I am a teacher by choice. It is who I am and what I love to do!” Wiley told Madison.
Wiley provides her students with a framework within which each child is free to explore and engage in active learning — and thus is placed in a situation aimed at reaching their greatest potential. She says, “an interested, supportive, invested and fully present teacher is vital to each child’s success.” After determining the learning style that works best for each of her students, Wiley utilizes research-based strategies proven to activate the brain.
The greatest lesson she has learned over the years is the importance for the teacher to develop a close, personal relationship with each child. “I share my joy and excitement about a student’s success and inspire others to embrace the educational vision for students and build upon it,” Wiley said.
Read more about Janice Wiley in Madison.
As a JMU student, Ross Copperman (’04) wrote “Fly Away” in a songwriting class. The opening lyrics reminisced of the “glory days that [were] just a passing phase.” Perhaps Copperman was writing in anticipation of one day looking back on a prominent musical career. Still, at this point in his life, there is no end in sight for the glory days of this up-and-coming recording artist and songwriter.
The former Student Ambassador says JMU is where it all began. “I built up my [musical] following at JMU and it spread from there. I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't been for the support of JMU.” While attending Madison, Copperman performed at venues on and around campus, including Wilson Hall, and recorded his first studio album, Believe.
Music websites praise Copperman for his ability to turn music into sweeping melodies and spacious choruses. Reverbnation.com said: “His emotive, scuffed-up voice is what bestows an intimacy that makes each song feel as if it were written for the listener alone.”
After college the Roanoke native started entering and placing in nationwide music competitions. Copperman later moved to London, where he signed with the UK label Phonogenic/RCA Records. In May of 2007 Copperman released his professional debut album, Welcome to Reality.
The first single he released in the UK, “As I Choke” was the most popular iTunes single of the week, and his second and best known single, “All She Wrote,” cracked the UK top 40.
Now in Nashville, Copperman continues to hone his songwriting skills. As his talent continues to makes strides through the music industry, Americans and JMU alumni eagerly await to hear what he will create next.
View the music video for “All She Wrote,” and read more about Ross Copperman.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans live with the world’s fastest growing developmental disability. And Gay Finlayson (’76) is all too familiar with its name: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Treatment for ASD is long term, intensive, expensive and absolutely critical for children, but insurance companies often do not cover the expenses associated with the necessary care.
For more than 20 years, Finlayson has fought an uphill battle for funding to improve the support and care for those challenged by autism.
The former philosophy major never imagined public policy would become an interest, “much less a passion,” Finlayson told JMU’s Be the Change. But things changed when two of her children, Marit and Neil, were diagnosed with autism.
Baffled by her daughter’s behavior and unable to find any answers, Finlayson heeded her mother’s advice and brought Marit to JMU’s Early Childhood Development Center for evaluation.
Finlayson’s mother, Dr. Elizabeth Finlayson served as dean for summer school at the university, was founder and director of the Bachelor of Individual Studies program, and directed student orientation until her retirement in 1985.
JMU provided Finlayson with the diagnosis, but at a large cost: “Our insurance company cut us off,” Finlayson said. The entire family lost their coverage.
Now a heath educator and family specialist for the Center for Development and Disability and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Finlayson works with legislators crafting legislation to help improve the lives of autistic individuals all over the country
To read more about Finlayson and her work as an advocate for autism awareness read her Be the Change profile. Learn more about the ASD at the National Autism Society website, and read more about ongoing work at JMU to unlock autism.
The ‘Bend-and-Snap’ technique first introduced by Elle Woods skyrocketed into American pop culture in the 2001 film, “Legally Blonde,” and continues to elicit laughter 10 years later. Screenwrite r, Karen McCullah-Lutz (’88), might use Harvard as the backdrop to combine law school and laughs, but the origin of her comic genius is rooted in her Madison Experience.
Lutz graduated from JMU with a degree in marketing and did not give writing a thought until 1992 when she picked up a book on screenwriting. Since then, she has partnered with writer Kirsten Smith and the duo has produced several scripts — their first being “10 Things I Hate About You.” Lutz attributes her universally relatable humor to her experiences at JMU. “People who read our scripts always say that [my partner and I] write good guy characters,” Lutz told Montpelier in 2001. “I think that's because of my time as a little sister at AXP fraternity. It's easy to ‘write’ cool guys when you know a lot of cool guys.”
With a lighthearted and spirited perspective on and off the page, Lutz’s basic mantra is to make life fun no matter what crosses your path along the way. “I remember my dad told me, ‘Karen, the world does not owe you a good time.’ And I was like, ‘What? Yes, it does!’ So, I've pretty much orchestrated my entire life so it’s always a good time.”
Other films co-authored by Karen McCullah-Lutz include: “She’s the Man,” “The House Bunny,” “The Ugly Truth” and “Ella Enchanted.” She published her first book, The Bachelorette Party, in 2006.
Following in the political footsteps of his father — a former mayor of Glassboro, N.J. — and his older brother — a N.J. State Senator — Sean Dalton (’84) currently is serving his second term as Gloucester Coun ty Prosecutor. After earning a double major degree in political science and psychology from JMU, Dalton earned his J.D. from the University of Bridgeport School of Law in 1987.
In 1993, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, serving parts of Gloucester and Camden Counties and was re-elected to a second term two years later. Dalton also was elected as Associate Minority Leader for the General Assembly by his colleagues.
Under his leadership as Gloucester County Prosecutor, Dalton expanded the services law enforcement officials provide to the community. He initiated a Cyber Crimes unit to address the issues of cyberstalking and child pornography and also formed a Veterans unit to screen the increasing number of combat veterans involved in the criminal justice system.
During his tenure, Prosecutor Dalton has promoted a philosophy of community involvement within law enforcement. He continues to keep the JMU sprit alive as he makes key changes in the Gloucester community.
Learn more about Sean Dalton and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
With research now only a mouse-click away, many people already have said goodbye to card catalogues, dusty stacks and books. Some are now asking: “Why fund traditional colleges?” Robin Anderson (‘95M, ‘01Psy.D.), the world’s first recipient of a doctoral degree in assessment and measurement, has the answer.
Anderson’s doctorate prepared her to show objective proof of the quality and effectiveness of programs that have traditionally been difficult to measure — in her particular interest, that of higher education. With a strong base in psychology courses and emphasis on real-world applications, students in JMU’s Assessment and Measurement doctoral program develop the essential skills needed to evaluate programs in education, heath services, business and government.
"What attracted me to the program was the combination of the examinee and the exam … the psychology of the examinee — cognitive, social, and developmental — because our professors want us to understand the human beings we are assessing,” Anderson said.
Here, it is understood that no number is just a number. Dary Erwin, a renowned leader in the assessment field and former director of JMU's Center for Assessment and Research Studies told Montpelier’s Bill Gentry just that in an interview in 2001.
“We are dealing with people, and so we need to know what's going on behind the scenes with people as much as we can,” Erwin said. “Through courses in statistics, psychology, public policy and communication, JMU’s program charts new territory by taking a comprehensive look at both the test and the test-taker.”
Anderson currently is the associate director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies and an associate professor of graduate psychology at JMU.
Read more about Robin Anderson in Montpelier and learn more about the Assessment and Measurement graduate program.
Each year 1 million babies are born worldwide with a congenital heart defect. Of those 1 million, 100,000 will not live to see their first birthday and thousands more die before they reach adulthood (Children’s Heart Foundation). JMU grad and Hope Marietta Foundation founder Adam Armiger (’07) endeavors to drastically change these facts.
The Hope Marietta Foundation is a non-profit organized to raise awareness of congenital heart defects (CHD). It was created in memory of Armiger’s younger sister, Hope Marietta Armiger, who passed away from CHD on July 14, 1995, just 15 days after her birth. In hopeful pink and bright turquoise, the organization’s homepage displays an inspiring message calling people together to join the fight against CHD: “In memory of Hope, let us remember what a precious gift life is, and let us work together to fight for those who may not be able to fight for themselves.”
Through monetary donations, the Foundation supports research through contributions to the Children’s Heart Foundation, the only organization created to exclusively fund CHD research. The Foundation also promotes community support and involvement for local families in need.
Aside from balancing his responsibilities as chairman, president and co-founder of the Hope Marietta Foundation, Armiger, a College of Business graduate, also is an analyst at CW capital Asset Management in Northern Virginia. There’s an inescapable trace of purple and gold throughout The Hope Marietta Foundation. Co-founder and legal council Sean Wainwright (’06), and director of brand development, Kerrin Delaney (’07) are fellow Dukes striving to turn the tides of congenital heart disease.
Read more about The Hope Marietta Foundation and learn more about how you can help in the fight against CHD at the Children’s Heart Foundation.
A few months after walking across the Madison College stage to receive her degree in elementary education, Louise Schullery Cox (’67) found herself on a dirt road, in an open lorry in 100-degree weather, and with a basket of eggs in her lap. She was on an eight-hour passage to Kayima, Sierra Leone as the first Madison student to serve in the Peace Corps.
Cox joined the Peace Corps with a bold ambition to save the world. She wanted to help others but quickly realized she was the one on the receiving end. At the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary banquet this past spring, Cox recalled the payoffs of her volunteer experience: “My Peace Corps service helped me look at my country from the outside … to see the oneness of people. The differences are all trappings — color, clothing. We’re all one.”
From 1967-69 Cox taught at primary schools — first in Kayima and then in Jaiama Nimikoro, in the Kono District of Sierra Leone. She later returned to the United States to receive her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois and taught at Rhode Island College. Cox has lived in Brazil and Saudi Arabia, where she taught with husband, fellow Peace Corps veteran David Vania.
Cox currently teaches English and adult life skills to immigrants and refugees, and works for the Child Development Center at a community college in the greater Hartford, Conn. area. She also is a contributor to Madison’s “Professors You Love” series.
In 1967 Cox ignited the flame that would encourage future generations of JMU students to serve in the Peace Corps. As of 2010, more than 350 JMU students had served in the international service organization — a continuing testimonial of Madison’s “Be The Change” spirit.
“There is something about the JMU experience that makes you a better person,” Cox told Montpelier in 2002.
Learn more about this Madison graduate’s extraordinary experience.
With 21 top radio hits, four Dove awards and four Grammy nominations, American Christian rock singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer Margaret Becker has staked her claim within the music industry. Now a well-known and respected artist among Contemporary Christian music, this Madison alum continues to branch out through her words, faith and passion.
Becker got her musical start as a child with a six-line song titled “Tree.” As a teenager she sang in local jazz clubs and dreamed of becoming a cabaret performer in New York City. Becker studied communications at JMU and decided music was the most effective way to spread her message of faith and to bring people together. She signed with Sparrow Records in Nashville as a songwriter in 1985 and two years later, signed a contract as a solo artist.
Becker also has been active in supporting charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Compassion International, and World Vision. “My records still come,” said the successful musician, humanitarian, speaker and author. “But they come at a lot more leisurely pace, as they serve the overall theme of what’s going on in my life, instead of fitting a niche.”
After 10 years of notable and celebrated success, Becker took a sabbatical from the music industry and began to focus on her prose-writing career. She contributed several editorials for Campus Life magazine, co-wrote a children's series with a scriptwriter, contributed to various women’s magazines and published three books: With New Eyes (1998), Growing up Together (2000) and Coming Up for Air (2006).
Learn more about Margaret Becker and her music by visiting her website.
According to Philip Bigler (’74, ’76M), the classroom is a battleground. It is a place to fight against short attention spans resulting from the barrage of visual stimulation customary to younger generations. Bigler's efforts to get students actively involved have attracted extensive acclaim over the years. He views the classroom as a place to inspire.
The high school teacher, historian and author gained national attention as the 1998 National Teacher of the Year. For 23 years, Bigler turned his classroom into a place of exploration. Rather than a place for teachers to practice oration and students to practice listening, Bigler went with a hands-on approach. His students
did not just review stories of the past, but interacted with the material and, as a result, arrived at deeper levels of understanding.
Bigler saw the importance of incorporating historical simulations and interactive lessons into his curricula. Students staged presidential elections and debated constitutional law before a mock Supreme Court, gathered as members of a Greek polis to debate issues of the Archaic and Classic ages, prepared Islamic/Middle-Eastern festival projects, and interviewed veterans at the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home.
"In teaching, we sow the seeds of a harvest unseen,” Bigler said.
With the ultimate goal of igniting a lifelong thirst for knowledge, Bigler — currently an Assistant Professor at JMU and the Director of The James Madison Center for Liberty & Learning — sought to motivate interest in each of his students. By encouraging class involvement and interaction with the material, Bigler provided students the opportunity to take part in each day’s lesson and take responsibility and pride in their own education.
To learn more about Philip Bigler, his accomplishments, publications and teaching ideology, visit his website. And for more of his work in the classroom, read his story in Madison (P. 38).
Space, stars and shuttles are the images usually associated with NASA, but Dan Irwin (’90), a NASA research scientist, brings forests, deforestation, environmental issues and playgrounds into the picture as well. Irwin worked to develop SERVIR, a system that helps scientists and authorities in southern Mexico and Central America identify sudden changes in environmental conditions.
SERVIR helps its users identify deforestation, forest fires, hurricanes and toxic algae red tides. When Hurricane Stan swept through southern Mexico and Central America in 2005, SERVIR aided rescuers and relief organizations in mapping the hardest hit areas, identifying bridges and roads that were out and locating stranded communities. SERVIR also played an important role in relief efforts for the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Ida in El Salvador and landslides in Panama.
While studying the satellite images of San Andres, Guatemala, Irwin noticed there were few areas for children to play. “There were no children's resources,” Irwin said in a NASA news release. “In a community with 2,000 kids, there wasn't much for them to do.”
Irwin quickly got to work creating a place where kids could be kids. In 1999 he built the first children's library in northern Guatemala and a playground — likely the first playground thousands of Guatemalan children had ever seen.
“There's nothing else like the sound of kids on a playground,” Irwin said. “They sound exactly the same no matter where you go. I love that sound. It's universal.”
Read the NASA news release and see pictures of the playground, view Irwin's Be the Change profile and learn more about the SERVIR system.
Whether they are rolling out of the Maryland Ave., Pleasant Valley Rd., Lucy Dr., or E. Rock St. stations, Harrisonburg firefighters have Zac Hittie (’06, ’10M) to thank for providing information they need on emergency calls. Hittie began working with the HFD in 2007 as the first information technology coordinator and soon realized the hurdle created by an outdated Geographic Information System.
The archaic GIS was causing firefighters to loose precious time en route to an emergency. Hittie, who owns degrees in computer science and ISAT, began to chip away at the problem.
As part of his master’s research at JMU, Hittie worked on a system to consolidate large binders of maps and building plans that took up space on the dashboards and front seats of fire trucks. His system combined the existing GIS maps into one database with searchable addresses, street layers, electrical and water lines and hydrant locations. What once took minutes to determine now only takes a few seconds.
“This [new software] puts all the information at the touch of a fingertip,” HFD fire chief Larry Shifflett told The Breeze.
Hittie was keeping more than just information in mind when he designed the program. With a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and new touch-screen laptops, Hittie rendered large tabs and buttons that enable firefighters to navigate the system while wearing their protective gloves — a small but important detail.
The news of the program’s success in Harrisonburg is spreading as departments in Charlottesville, Fairfax, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are interested in implementing Hittie’s technology.
Learn about Zac Hittie's software, read his article in The Breeze, and visit the HFD facebook page.
It was on the JMU campus that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s career began to take form as he volunteered at the student-run radio station, WXJM, and worked as a news reporter for the local radio station, WSVA. Now a long way from the Harrisonburg area, Acosta (’93) greets Americans every morning as a correspondent for the America Morning program.
His early exposure to news reporting, along with what he learned in the classroom, became the foundation of his career. "You really need that — that boot camp I guess you could call it — to make your mistakes and learn how you want to communicate and how you want to present information," Acosta told Montpelier in 2005.
Growing up in Washington, D.C., Acosta always had a passion for politics. “I always felt like I spoke it as a second language,” he said, “and I wanted to sort of marry that interest with journalism and communications and that’s what I did.”
Since graduating, Acosta has chased jobs and news all over the county: D.C., Knoxville, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and New York City. He joined the CNN network in 2007 after working as a CBS News correspondent for four years. Upon Acosta’s addition to the staff, then-president John Klein said, “Jim’s experience in covering major national and world events and his irrepressible drive to excel make him an outstanding addition to CNN.”
In a 2008 interview with The Breeze, Acosta offered words of encouragement to journalism students today, “Don’t get jaded. Don’t be cynical. Follow your dreams. Follow your passions; let your passions drive you. But if you have it, sort of inside of you, that’s the fire in the belly that will put you on a path in this field.”
For more about Jim Acosta, read his interview with The Breeze and feature article "Assignment America" in Montpelier.
Melanie Blunt (’94) is known as a quiet, gentle person. She’s anxious to help, she fights for what she believes in, and she does it all with a great sense of style. The fashion merchandizing major graduated summa cum laude and repeatedly was told by people at JMU that she would be the next Jackie O. Little did they know that much like Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, politics was in Blunt’s future.
Blunt was the youngest First Lady in the country when she served with husband, Missouri governor Matt Blunt, from 2005-2009. She credits her time at JMU for preparing her for the leadership and service role as First Lady of Missouri.
Some of the health projects Blunt was actively involved with during her time as First Lady included: American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Day, October’s breast awareness month in Missouri, the Susan Komen Race for the Cure®, Missouri’s new Albert Portal System, Child Passenger Safety Week and the Missouri Child Resource and Referral Network.
Despite all the changes a First Lady appointment can bring, Blunt maintains her relationships with JMU friends and faculty. With memories and purple pride as bright as they were 17 years ago, Blunt visits the Harrisonburg area to see her grandmother and the university campus as often as possible.
“Melanie has an overall grace about her that is just so suited to such a role [as First Lady],” Angie Ledford Hutchinson (’94) said. “Melanie has always been able to talk to anybody about everything. … She is her own unique person; she is Melanie — alumnae, mother, First Lady — all done with class and a style all her own.”
Read more about Melanie Blunt and her activities as First Lady in Madison (P. 26).
On Feb. 20, 2009, Linsey Clarke (’05) was part of a joint recon patrol in Afghanistan when enemy fire exploded on both sides of the road. While the rest of the patrol began returning fire, the 26-year old Army Staff Sergeant and Special Forces medic jumped out of his truck and — under heavy fire — broke straight for a burning vehicle at the back of the convoy.
“My only concern was that my buddies were hurt and needed help,” Clarke said. "That was my single focus."
Clarke first found Staff Sergeant Eric Englehardt with two broken legs and a fractured back. After putting a tourniquet on one of Englehardt’s legs and pulling him to safety, Clarke returned to the wreckage. This time he found severely burned Master Sergeant David Hurt. Clarke pulled Hurt to safety and returned to the vehicle a third time to help his fellow soldiers engage in enemy fire.
Clarke received the Silver Star for his efforts. The award is presented to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force. Clarke, who “repeatedly faced imminent danger and at no point showed any regard for his personal safety,” as stated on his Silver Star citation, is the quintessential face of American valor and heroism.
Learn more about Linsey Clarke's actions under fire in this Washington Post article.
From Shakespeare and Chaucer to peacekeeping missions and battery command, English major turned Army Major Steve Kurczak (’97) continues to uphold the seven Army values. A model of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage, the former JMU ROTC cadet earned a bronze star for his efforts as a Forward Operating Base mayor in Iraq in 2005.
Kurczak, who served his command in Buqubah from Feb. 2004 to Feb. 2005, was in charge of construction contracts for the FOB, supplying soldiers to escort workers and overseeing contractors for waste removal. He also was responsible for the logistics convoy that traveled to neighboring brigade headquarters.
“I brought all my soldiers home with minor or no injuries,” Kurczak told Be the Change.
That’s a feat worthy of recognition in such a dangerous place, even for a man with nearly 14 years of service under his belt.
“I love what I do,” Kurczak said. “… I like inspiring others and working with other nations to improve their country without violence.”
Kurczak currently is with U.S. Army Central at Fort McPherson in Atlanta and works as a liaison officer — a go-between for his headquarters and a coalition or foreign nation.
Read Kurczak's Be the Change article and learn more about JMU's ROTC program.
As an Army general, Raymond Mason (’78) has worn patriotic green camouflage for more than 30 years, but he continues to bleed purple. The College of Business graduate was among the first cadets to enroll in JMU’s ROTC program and has been instrumental in its sustained success — setting a high and honorable standard for all future participants.
“The academically challenging and socially active campus atmosphere [at JMU] allowed for creative and innovative open thought,” Mason told Be the Change. “[It] gave me the opportunity to quickly learn the critical leadership skills that would prepare me for the high stakes, rapid-paced, ever-changing mission requirements of a U.S. Army career."
Mason was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps in December 1978 and went on to graduate from the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advanced Corps, the Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He also received an M.S. in Procurement/Contract Management from the Florida Institute of Technology and an M.S. in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University
In 2009, Mason stepped down as Commander of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command based out of Fort Shafer, Hawaii to assume the role of Deputy Chief of Staff, G4, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) located in Fort McPherson, Ga.
This past June, Mason kicked off the FORSCOM G-4 Conference, “Back to Basics,” by discussing the unique and collective challenges facing those responsible for sustaining the Army now and in the future.
Learn more about Maj. Gen. Raymond Mason's career, military awards and decorations. Read his Be the Change profile, and check out the article about June's FORSCOM G-4 Conference.
On Oct. 18, 2006, Maj. Justin Constantine (’92) of the U.S. Marine Corps’ 4th Civil Affairs Group was traveling on the road to Ramadi, Iraq when a sniper’s bullet tore through his skull behind his left ear — smashing his jaw and exiting through his right cheek. Miraculously — thanks to the efforts of doctors and a Navy corpsman who tended to him while under fire — Constantine survived.
Since returning to the United States, Constantine has dedicated his professional life to helping wounded veterans as they return home. To answer the inquisitive stares he received back in the United States (Constantine suffered significant facial damage), the JMU grad and American hero designed a T-Shirt with the phrase “Iraq and Back” written on it. While support for the troops is large, veterans out of uniform generally are indistinguishable from other American citizens. Constantine’s shirt provides an opportunity for A
mericans to express their gratitude for the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces.
Constantine began selling his shirts on www.iraqandback.com, and later developed a "T-Shirts for Troops" program. Due to the website’s popularity and effectiveness, he created the sister-program, Afghanistan and Back, housed on the same site. For every $10 donation, a T-shirt is sent to a wounded soldier. To date, more than 2,000 shirts have been sent to our military heroes.
More than four years after his catastrophic injury, Constantine — who holds degrees in English and Political Science and earned a law degree in 1998 from the University of Denver — has undergone at least 10 major surgeries. He has several more planned in the future. These events are anything but setbacks, however. “I married an amazing woman, have met tons of great people, and I’m doing a lot for wounded warriors that I wouldn’t have been doing otherwise,” he said.
Read more about Justin Constantine in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Madison.
A lifelong Harrisonburg resident, Mary Spitzer Etter (’34) undoubtedly left a lasting mark on the community, enriching the Madison Experience for the generations that followed her. For 39 years, this State Teachers College graduate taught in Waynesboro and Harrisonburg, never ceasing to educate and contribute to the community.
Etter, who earned her M.A. from the College of William & Mary and also completed graduate work at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia, was president of JMU’s Bluestone Society. She also was a lifelong advocate of education and history. Etter founded several scholarships at Shenandoah University and Bridgewater College, and donated several quilt blankets and garments to the Virginia Quilt Museum in downtown Harrisonburg. Etter also donated garments and ephemera to the JMU Historic Clothing Collection to be preserved, studied and appreciated. “The Fashionable Mrs. Etter” collection serves as an opportunity for visitors to resonate with the spirit of the owners and the times. The collection resides at the Cromer Trumbo House in Dayton, Va.
Upon her death in 2002, Etter left her family’s historic residence, a two-story Victorian house a few blocks west of Court Square, to Central Shenandoah Arts to establish a community art center and gallery.
Etter was president of the Madison College Alumni Association from 1964 to 1966. She also served as chaplain of the Retired Teachers Association and scholarship chair of the Delta Kappa Gamma's Key Women Teachers Community. Etter also was an honorary member of the Bridgewater College Alumni Association.
For more on this incredible alum, visit the Carrier Special Collections website, which contains a series of papers documenting Etter's relationship with JMU as an alumna, class agent and member of the Alumni Associations Board of Directors.
Institutions and their host locations influence one another. Since 2003, Eddie Bumbaugh (’73) has worked to revitalize Harrisonburg’s downtown district to ensure the influence remains a positive one. Bumbaugh, a lifelong resident of the Shenandoah Valley, is the director of the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and has labored to breathe new life into historic downtown since 2003.
Bumbaugh told Madison in 2010 that the size of the student body and downtown’s proximity to the JMU campus provide prospective business owners with convincing reasons to establish their businesses in the area.
HDR is a non-profit that views this revitalization as an effort between economic development, beautification, promotion and events, and engaging the local community. The organization receives partial funding from the City of Harrisonburg with a majority of its programming budget coming from memberships and other sources.
In April, HDC and the City of Harrisonburg were presented with the Virginia Main Street Milestone award for $40 million in private investment and the contribution of more than 55,000 volunteer hours since being designated as a Virginia Main Street community in 2004.
“Every downtown changes over time — some in a positive direction and some move backward — some with a plan for the future and some without an overall vision,” Bumbaugh said.
Thanks to this JMU grad, Harrisonburg is moving in a positive direction to achieve growth and stability.
Read more about HDC on the HDC homepage and learn more about the rich history of Harrisonburg.
For most of us, beach escapades inspiring fantasies of groundbreaking discovery remain figments of our imaginations. This has not been the case for Carole Baldwin ('81). A childhood filled with memories of beach explorations and shoreline critter investigations helped Baldwin, a South Carolina native, cultivate an early love for the ocean, and launched her career in marine biology.
Now a well-respected authority on marine biology, Baldwin is a systematic ichthyologist (a scientist who studies the diversity of and relationships among fish species) and has brought her childhood games to fruition.
Baldwin has discovered new species of fishes in Belize, Tobago, the Cook Islands, Australia, El Salvador and the Galápagos Islands. Since graduating from JMU in 1981, Baldwin has earned an M.S. in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston and a Ph.D . in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary. The author of five dozen scientific articles, Baldwin currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium, D.C. Venue, and is a Museum Specialist in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
When she’s not deep-sea diving and exploring coral reeds, Baldwin devotes much of her time to sharing her experiences as a marine biologist with students and the general public, serving as a role model to young girls considering a future in science.
Read more about Carole Balwin in the Madison article: “The Galapagos Connection”
See her Be the Change Profile
With a friendly smile and a paintbrush in hand, David Gill (’76) has repeatedly honored James Madison University with his talents. The 6-foot-2 Richmond native always fostered a love for both the arts and sports. He majored in art education as a student at Madison College and was a forward on the men’s basketball team.
After graduation Gill taught art at Lancaster High School and painted between his teaching and coaching duties. Now a full-time painter, Gill owns an art gallery in Richmond and exhibits his work in 25-30 shows a year from Miami to Cleveland. He specializes in watercolor, offset lithographs and limited edition prints, and has compiled more than 150 awards throughout his career.
Gill believes his greatest accomplishment is being able to make a living out of what he loves the most — a sense of pride buttressed in 1991 when he received the Ronald A. Carrier Alumni Achievement Award.
Professor Emeritus Jerry Coulter taught Gill at Madison and told Curio in 2003 that “Gill is probably the most successful art student to come out of JMU.”
Gill, a self-described “feel-good kind of guy,” enjoys painting peaceful, simple scenes such as outdoor porches, dinner tables or living rooms because “I just want people to be able to feel relaxed when they look at my paintings.”
View David Gill's work, including "Springtime at the Edith Carrier Arboretum," "JMU Royal Marching Dukes," and "JMU — Then and Now".
Cited in Time as one of the top 25 most influential Americans, Dr. Marcia Angell (’60) has a reputation in the medical community that few can match. This Madison College alumna went on to become a Fulbright Scholar, a graduate from Boston University School of Medicine, a board-certified pathologist and the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Today, Angell is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Although a double major in chemistry and mathematics with a minor in biology, Angell credits her well-rounded liberal arts education to broadening her already wide array of interests and future career successes. In an alumni profile interview in 2004, Angell discussed the benefits of a JMU education, “One of the wonderful things about Madison is that the faculty was strong everywhere, there were and are wonderful individuals there. I took art, I took music, history, literature and some of my favorite teachers were in these other disciplines.”
Angell frequently writes for professional journals and the popular media on a wide range of topics, including medical ethics, health policy, the nature of medical evidence, the interface of medicine and law, care at the end of life, and relations between industry and academic medicine. She is the author a highly acclaimed book, Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case, published in 1996. She also co-authored Basic Pathology with Dr. Stanley Robbins (revised in ’78 and ’81), now considered a must-read in the medical school community.
Angell is a member of the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences, the Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She proudly declares that she received a better education at Madison College than many of her friends and colleagues who attended schools such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Oxford. “The reason was that the faculty at Madison was not too proud to teach,” she said. “It was just wonderful.”
Watch the full length video interview with Marcia Angell.
What better way to commemorate the continued development of the arts at JMU than to preface all the Forbes Center construction with a delicate, yet powerful musical creation of a gifted graduate. Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new 174,524-square-foot Performing Arts Center on Oct. 26, 2007, Brian Balmages (’98) debuted “Portraits in Bluestone” in Wilson Hall.
Now a popular and heavily sought-after composer, Balmages was commissioned to create the official music for the JMU Centennial celebration. The three-part movement showcases all performing groups: The first movement is for strings and piano, the second is for an a cappella choir, and the third and final movement is for a wind symphony.
Balmages always knew he wanted to study music and decided to attend JMU because of the reputation of the music industry program and the trumpet teacher. “Both offered a level of education that I did not feel I could get elsewhere in a similar environment," Balmages said in his Be the Change profile.
Since receiving a master’s degree from the University of Miami, this active composer, conductor, producer and performer has won worldwide praise for his fresh compositions. He is actively commissioned by groups ranging from the elementary school level to professional ensembles including: the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Boston Brass, members of the United States Marine Band and the Dominion Brass Ensemble. Balmages’ compositions also have been performed at various international conferences and by leading orchestras including the St. Louis Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony.
Balmages explains that he always found music, rather than words, as an easier and more precise way to communicate. Needless to say, the world is eager to hear what he will say next.
Listen to “Portraits in Bluestone” and view the video for the Centennial Celebration.
Inspiring people young and old, both on and off the basketball court, Dawn Evans (’11) never slows down — not even when faced with a serious kidney condition. The hoops standout garners national headlines, and not only for her triumphs as a point guard. Evans, who suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), also is an ambassador for the NephCure Foundation.
NephCure is a nonprofit devoted to finding a cause and a cure for FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome.Evans' determination to raise funds and generate national exposure of FSGS is something to admire.
Just one day after scoring a school record 38 points in a win over nationally ranked Virginia in 2010, Evans was diagnosed with FSGS. The incurable disease forms scar tissue in parts of the kidney called glomeruli that act as filters to help rid the body of unnecessary or harmful substances.
Shortly after, Evans began corresponding with Alonzo Mourning, who won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat while playing with FSGS. Mourning — a fellow NephCure ambassador — told Evans to keep fighting. “I just decided I am not going to lie down and let this take over my life like it can,” Evans said.
Impressive does not even begin to describe the stand Evans has made since her diagnosis. She is the Colonial Athletic Association record-holder for career points, won the 2011 V Foundation Comeback Award and was named Most Outstanding Player of the CAA tournament in 2010 and 2011. And she accomplished all that with kidneys that function at around 20 percent efficiency.
“[Evans] is a competitor,” Mourning said. “And when she was confronted with this disease, either you succumb or you overcome. Being the competitor that she is, the actual proof speaks for itself.”
Visit the NephCure Foundation and read about Dawn in the Spring/Summer edition of Madison. Check out her Be The Change profile and her learn more about her incredible story in USA Today, ESPN and Sports Illustrated.
For her unparalleled dedication to JMU and the love of learning, Montpelier characterized Inez Graybeal Roop (’35) as having a heart of purple and gold. For more than 75 years, Roop made her mark on JMU — as a student, teacher, graduate and benefactor. Roop is a rightful Madison legend, and was the perfect person to kick off our campaign recognizing 100 notable JMU alumni.
In 1977, as a Board of Visitors member, Roop made the motion to change the name of Madison College to James Madison University. She later stood by JMU President Ronald Carrier at the state capital as Gov. Mills Godwin signed the declaration to change the institution’s name.
A State Teachers College alum who graduated with degrees in English and history, Roop had a long and successful career in education. Her public service work included serving on the JMU Board of Visitors for eight years (1974-78; 80-84) and on the JMU Alumni Association Board of Directors — as chair of the Alumni Fund Drive, president of the Richmond Chapter and an officer in the Bluestone Society. In 1977 she was awarded the JMU Distinguished Alumni Award (later renamed The James Madison University Inez Graybeal Roop Distinguished Alumni Service Award), and in 1994 the university dedicated Roop Hall in her honor.
Aside from participating in almost every university milestone — including representing the Class of 1935 at JMU’s centennial celebration in 2008 — Roop and her husband, Ralph, demonstrated their commitment to JMU through a lifetime of giving, providing funds for student scholarships and faculty advancement. At the time of her death in Nov. 2010, 142 Roop scholarships had been awarded to students.
“Presidents get lots of advice about how to run their universities,” Madison President Linwood Rose said at a ceremony for Roop in 2011. “Some of it is listened to, some of it isn't. When I got a letter from Inez, I read it.”
Read more about Inez Roop in Montpelier: “24 Karat Purple” and on her Be The Change profile.
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