Your generous gifts have far and reaching consequences. This year, 7,358 alumni; 625 organizations, foundations and corporations; 7,975 friends; and 1,624 students, faculty and staff of the university and foundation made gifts to the James Madison University Foundation. But it’s not just your 16,582 gifts that enrich the Madison Experience; your involvement is what sets the tone for a culture of philanthropy at Madison. Donors attended sporting events, came to concerts, mentored bright students, and watched the Marching Royal Dukes make a historic visit to Vatican City. You have provided support to students and faculty, university program initiatives like Valley Scholars, Vision Tour, and Madison Trust along with providing new equipment and departmental support—all vital things for James Madison University. 

Madison Trust

With the Madison Trust for Innovation in Higher Education established through donor funds, a variety of innovative projects are well underway. Fully funded projects include:

  • Culturally Anchored Eco-Games TM and the ERAMAT Project are exploring solutions to sustainability

  • Concrete Spit is devising ways to conserve oyster reefs and private aquaculture

  • The students of Embracing the Need for New Energy Sources are researching how to harness energy from infrared light

  • Evaluation of Polymer Applications that Affect the Stability of Highway Cut Slopes is studying ways to prevent rock falls on rural highways

  • Traumatic Brain Injury/New Hearing Test is helping our military service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries

  • Winning with Money TED Talk is preparing JMU students and young alumni to make wise financial decisions

All of the projects have the potential to create real change for a better future and are only possible because of you, our donors. 

Scholarship Gifts

The James Madison University Foundation received scholarship gifts totaling approximately $3 million during the 2015 fiscal year. 

Dr. Eileen Nelson, long-time supporter of JMU, donated a piece of real estate to establish the William R. and Eileen S. Nelson Family Athletic Scholarship Endowment. Both served the university as faculty members and were avid fans of JMU Athletics. They provided a home for the JMU bulldog Mascot Duke III and Duke IV, bringing them to athletic events.

In his lifetime, George Verlander believed that every child should have the opportunity to receive a college education, especially students residing in Lancaster County, VA. The Verlander Foundation and Educational Trust Scholarship Endowment makes it possible for such students to receive a college education.

The Whitten Maher annual scholarship has become an endowed scholarship. The late Whitten Maher’s (‘10) family and friends made sure Whitten’s commitment to fairness and justice continues through an endowed scholarship. Mr. Maher was dedicated to civic causes and worked for Demos: Ideas and Action, a nonprofit public policy organization before his premature death. The scholarship will honor his memory and support other young communicators who possess the traits that we admired so dearly in Whitten. 

Gifts to Departments and Centers

Dr. Charles Wynes (‘52) remembered JMU in his estate, generously providing a bequest to the history department and the Madison Forever fund. In a letter, Dr. Wynes expressed his appreciation for what the university had provided him. “I don't mind telling you, as I have told others, that James Madison University, freed me as a tenant farmer’s son, to be the first in my family, ever, to get a college education.” The lasting impact that JMU left on Dr. Wynes allowed him to become an accomplished faculty member, administrator and book author at the University of Georgia.

The Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism was created by a generous gift from JMU’s first Provost’s Distinguished Professor, Ralph Cohen and his late wife, Libby Okun Cohen. The center will serve as a model of collaborative scholarship, support graduate students and faculty research projects, offer experimental courses combining multiple disciplines and support inquiries into transforming graduate education.

Honoring Professors

Our professors make lasting impressions on JMU students and it’s not surprising when alumni and their families return to make gifts in honor of the professors who inspired them.

The Sarah Miller Luck ’14, ‘15 Endowed Professorship for Excellence in Education was established by the Luck family to honor Dr. John Almarode, who had a significant impact on Sarah’s experiences at JMU. The award will be given to professors who inspire students to believe in themselves, to take risks, to question, and to enjoy the process of learning, growth and self-discovery.

Likewise, Shirley Hanson (‘56) and Richard D. Roberts established The Shirley Hanson Roberts ‘56 and Richard D. Roberts Endowment for Faculty Excellence. The endowment will be awarded to professors who consistently engage with their students as caring, knowledgeable and collaborative partners in learning, and by doing so, inspire them to believe in themselves, to take risks, to question and to enjoy the process of learning, growth and self-discovery.

Forbes Valley Scholars Gold Tournament

We also wanted to take a moment to thank Lois and Bruce Forbes who hosted the first ever Valley Scholars Golf Classic at Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club. The Forbes', along with other sponsors, understand the value of an education and the impact it can have on young people and their future. You can watch a video of the tournament here.

Annual Stewardship Luncheon

The Annual Stewardship Luncheon is always an exciting time because it brings donors and their direct beneficiaries together to celebrate philanthropy and the Madison Experience. This year donors, students, faculty, administrators and friends heard tributes from alumni, thanks from grateful faculty and students, and encouragement from donors. Relive the event here and be inspired all over again.

This year’s stewardship luncheon also provided the opportunity to unveil an extraordinary gift from California Pizza Kitchen CEO, G.J. (‘84) and Heather Hart. Their $3 million dollar gift to name the College of Business School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management will enable the school to expand and continue to excel in teaching students values, commitment to service and ethical leadership.

It was an incredible year full of generous gifts and the innovation those gifts fueled. Thank you to all of our donors. 

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