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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. A rightful Madison legend, Roop was the perfect person to kick off the 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.”