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Top 10 of 2011

When we looked at our most-read stories of 2011, it was no surprise that they had a common theme: Change. After all, there were plenty of new developments on campus, from the selection of a new president for the university to the changing face of Bridgeforth Stadium. Add JMU's inherent "Be the Change" spirit into the annual ebb and flow, and you have a year's worth of positive change that included triumph over challenges, problems yielding to solution and an unquenchable enthusiasm for the future.


"Iraq and back"

Iraq and Back Originally published in Oct. 2010, this compelling story of JMU alum and Iraqi war veteran Major Justin Constantine ('92) was the top story of 2010 and captured so much of your attention it made it to the No. 10 spot for 2011. While experts predict that the strain that a decade of war has placed on the U.S. military will be evidenced in post-traumatic stress, suicides and unemployment, a nation wonders if the profound, potentially negative, effect of war be reversed? Constantine was faced with the challenge and found an answer. … Read More

Rescuing failing readers

Rescuing failing readers Reading statistics indicate that millions of America's adults are poor readers or functionally illiterate. Concerns for U.S. educational quality often mire in fractious, political debate, while schools with a substantial percentage of students from low socio-economic backgrounds find themselves in an uphill battle to meet educational objectives. How then, are a JMU graduate student, her professor and a Virginia school system managing to beat the odds? From June 2011. … Read More


Freewheeling How many muscles do you use when walking? The fact is, most of us don’t even pay attention to our body’s muscle movements as we go through daily life. And we don’t realize the luxury of unconscious movement. Born with cerebral palsy, 16-year-old Ricky Forgey has to think about the steps he takes for his muscles to respond properly; he needs a cane for standing and walking. His circumstance presented a challenge for JMU engineering students who wanted to help Forgey be more active and independent. How could they give him a measure of carefree movement? The answer — a bicycle made just for him. From August 2011. … Read More.

Venture and Gain

Something Ventured It's called the new industrial revolution — the push to a knowledge-based economy where highly skilled workers implement and manage technology. Preparing for what lies ahead may not always be clearly understood or agreed upon. Is capitalism good or bad? Can innovation be our economic salvation? Will our youth get the education they need to survive in this new era? Ask JMU alumnus Paul Holland ('82), whose documentary Something Ventured depicts events integral in the shift to a knowledge economy. Published July 2011. … Read More

The gift from September 11

The gift from September 11“If there is a legacy that we as a nation should cherish from the tragedy of September 11, it is this: What separates us should always be secondary to what unites us. Every one of us — all ethnicities, all political persuasions, all religions, all classes — should strive to recapture and hold on to the unity that was so pervasive in the weeks and months following September 11.” This “Be the Change” blog post from September garnered your attention, plenty of responses and a spot on the Top 10 list. … Read more.

The power of soccer

The power of soccer What if the world's next generation were free from HIV/AIDS? Impossible, some might say. Certainly medicines alone are not enough. According to the U.N., one key to achieving the goal is to empower young people to protect themselves from HIV. That's quite a challenge in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, home to 67 percent of the world's inhabitants living with HIV. In such an environment, how do you build a culture that is free from the attitudes and behaviors that cause infection? Sports fan and political science major Wes Mitchell ('10) answers in a word, "Soccer." From March 2011. … Read More

War, everlasting

War, everlasting Imagine for a moment that despite armistice, despite peace treaty, despite troops returning home, despite civilians resuming the rhythm of daily life, war's devastation does not end. It's a reality worldwide. Buried inches under the ground in country after country, war remains in the form of landmines that kill or maim thousands each year. Landmine survivor Kenneth Rutherford, director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at JMU, knows all too well the damage landmines cause and has dedicated his life to changing the reality of war. Published November 2011. … Read More

The biggest assist

The biggest assist When doctors diagnosed JMU women's basketball player Dawn Evans ('11) with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, they told her the disease would take away her career as a NCAA Division I athlete. FSGS can lead to kidney failure and has no known cause or cure. Her kidneys were in Stage 4, with about 20 percent of normal efficiency. It was devastating news for the All-American guard who was virtually rewriting the JMU record book. Yet Evans, ever the team player, was not ready to give up. From March 2011. … Read More

Is green living practical?

DNA makes a great metaphor for college life Many people want to live a greener lifestyle, yet an eco-friendly home seems out of reach for the average consumer. Most of the time, green-housing requires deep pockets, compromising spaces and out-of-the-ordinary house designs. While Zach Fettig ('06) was a JMU integrated science and technology major, he realized that there hadn't yet been a commercially viable example of what green living could look like. He decided to start his own company to help solve the problem. The result is Freedom House, a home that is completely independent — free — from any electrical or water utility grid. From February 2011. … Read More

JMU Selects Jonathan R. Alger as Sixth President

 Jonathan R. Alger Only five presidents have served James Madison University in its 103-year history. So it was particularly momentous when the Board of Visitors voted on November 28, 2011, to approve Jonathan R. Alger as the university's sixth president. In his acceptance speech, Alger said, "James Madison University stands at the threshold of an exciting new era at the beginning of its second century." Alger then addressed every group connected to the JMU community and said to students in particular, "I look forward to working with you to 'be the change' and to make the Madison Experience the best it can possibly be."… Read More