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March Madison Moments Through the Years

Untitled Document
Virginia Governor Swanson

Governor Claude A. Swanson
Courtesy US Senate Historical Office

On March 10 at 10:15 p.m., the Virginia General Assembly passed the appropriations bill which would provide $50,000 for the establishment of a new Normal School in Harrisonburg. This bill came after a four year public and legislative struggle by the Harrisonburg community to ensure the school would come to the Shenandoah Valley town.

Four days later, on March 14, Virginia Governor Claude A. Swanson signed into law the act passed four days earlier by the General Assembly. With his signature, the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg was officially established, and March 14 is considered and celebrated as the founding date of the institution.

Students in a circle with kindergarten students.
The Tiny Tots of the Kindergarten

In late March, at the request of the Harrisonburg school board, students from the Normal School began substituting for several Harrisonburg city school teachers who were placed under a three-week quarantine after being exposed to measles during a city-wide outbreak.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill on March 27 that dropped the term “industrial” from the names of the four state normal schools. Harrisonburg's institution became simply the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg.

On March 21, the Virginia General Assembly authorized the State Normal School Board to grant bachelor's degrees in education to its students.

Less than a month after sororities were authorized to be established at Madison College, 38 students signed a charter petition on March 1 to form a local chapter of the national sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma.

The U.S. Red Cross started a fundraising drive in 1943 to raise more than $125 million. Madison College participated without hesitation. Beating the campus goal by almost $700, students and faculty contributed $1,697 to the drive.

Ashby Hall
At the height of the Cold War in 1963, 264 students from Converse and Ashby halls packed the gymnasium and basement of Ashby Hall on March 2 as part of Madison College's first drill in preparation for a possible nuclear attack.  

Students from Converse and Ashby Halls participated in Madison College's first nuclear attack and fall-out drill in on March 2, 1963. Two hundred sixty-four students crammed into Ashby gym and Ashby basement as a mock preparation for a nuclear attack on campus.

The Standards Committee of Madison College sponsored etiquette sessions for all residence halls on campus throughout the month of March. The sessions were hosted by Dean Elizabeth Shafer and Dean Dorothy Garber.

John C. Heerlein, a junior Business major and member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, accepted his new post as Editor-in-Chief of The Breeze on March 11, making him the first male to occupy that position at Madison College.

Lou Campanelli
Lou Campanelli led the Duke to five NCAA appearances:  1974 and 1976 in Division II and 1981, 1982 and 1983 in Division I.  

Madison College's men's basketball team finished the '73-'74 season with a 20-6 record, the best in school history to that point. The team's regular season performance earned it a bid into the NCAA Southern Regional Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. The first round game on March 6, a 59-54 loss to Fisk University, was the first appearance by Madison College in the NCAA.

A committee appointed by the Student Affairs Office to study the campus alcohol policy concluded in March that kegs should be permitted in dormitory recreation rooms. Students throwing parties in dorms, however, had to follow specific regulations such as preparing a mandatory guest list, providing only one keg per 30 guests. Four students were required to accept full responsibility for the party, including damages and maintenance of crowd control.

The Virginia State Legislature passed a bill on March 6 requiring all incoming students to provide health histories to any four-year state college or university before registering for classes. The apparent reason for this change was because of epidemics of childhood diseases at schools such as Dartmouth College, Boston College, and Ohio State University.

March 18, 1991 – JMU Grad Competes in Miss U.S.A. Pageant
Tracey Dority, a 1989 JMU graduate and Alpha Sigma Alpha alumna, competed in the Miss U.S.A. pageant, which aired live on March 18 on CBS. She had qualified to compete in the national pageant when she was crowned 1991 Miss Virginia, U.S.A., in a Richmond pageant the previous fall.