James Madison University has changed dramatically in
the last dozen years. The growth from 11,000 students to nearly
16,000 students has had a major impact on the university's academic
offerings, physical plant, its faculty and staff, and the
Harrisonburg community. While some changes have been fairly
dramatic, some equally important changes have occurred slowly and
only reveal their importance over a relatively long period of time.
The purpose of this Research Note is to highlight the major changes
in JMU and raise some possible implications for the next ten years.
The Office of Institutional Research has been collecting trend data
for more than 30 years. Many of these data are displayed in the
Statistical Summary. Last year the office developed a Web
application that shows
performance indicators. The purpose of these documents is to
display to the university community many important trends and
indicators. The data displayed in this Research Notes was collected
from these sources as well as several
historical studies conducting during the last two years.
The trends have been organized into several categories: admissions,
facilities, faculty, finance, financial aid, and students. Selected
trends are displayed below. The full list is placed at the end of
this Research Notes.
Significant changes have occurred in new freshmen.
In Fall 1990 JMU enrolled 1,912 first-time freshmen. In Fall 2002
3,283 first-time freshmen enrolled. In Fall 1990 men represented
42.3 percent of the freshman class as opposed to 35.5 percent in
Fall 2002. The Fall 2003 freshman class is expected to be around 36
percent male. The percentage of new freshmen who indicated that
their philosophy of education was primarily "social" increased from
32 percent in 1993 to 41 percent in 2002 while the percentage of new
freshmen who indicated their philosophy of education was primarily
"vocation" decreased from 54 percent to 46 percent.
JMU continues to be an efficient user of classroom
and laboratory space that still meets SCHEV's standards, but the
recent addition of new space has allowed the percentage of seats
filled to decline from 75 to 67 for classrooms and 77 to 72 for
laboratories. The $99.9 million approved in November 2002 for JMU
for construction will enable the university to construct facilities
to meet current needs.
Many important changes have occurred in the faculty.
The overall student-to-faculty ratio has declined from 18.8 in Fall
1990 to 17.4 in Fall 2002. The percentage of tenured faculty has
declined from 71.2 percent in Fall 1990 to 49.7 percent in Fall
2002. The percentage of full-time instructional faculty who are
female has increased from 30.1 percent in Fall 1990 to 38.1 percent
in Fall 2002. The percentage of full-time faculty who are minority
increased from 6.3 percent in Fall 1990 to 9.5 percent in Fall 2002.
The percentage of faculty with five years or less experience at JMU
has increased from 32.4 percent in 1990-91 to 46.6 percent in Fall
2002. In 1999-00 average faculty salary was $1,800 below the 60th
percentile of the peer institutions. By 2002-03 this had increased
JMU continues to be an efficient user of its
resources in times of budget constraints and retrenchment. The
percentage of the total Educational & General budget devoted to
instructional and academic support functions decreased slightly from
70.2 percent in 1989-90 to 67.7 percent in 2000-01. JMU still
devotes a higher proportion of its funds to these functions than the
vast majority of its peer institutions. On the other hand, the per
student funding for in-state student from the Commonwealth has
declined from $3,484 in 1990-91 to $3,296 in 2003-04 (in constant
Financial Aid from the Commonwealth increased from
$1,079,000 in 1990-91 to $4,078,000 in 2002-03. The average
undergraduate state grant or scholarship increased from $2,076
in1993-94 to $3,259 in 2002-03.
The number and percentage of undergraduate Asian
Americans and Hispanics increased from 345 (3.6 percent) in 1990-91
to 934 (6.5 percent) in 2002-03. During the same time period, the
number and percentage of undergraduate African-American students
decreased from 908 (9.4 percent) to 554 (3.8 percent). The
percentage of students from Virginia declined from 77.7 percent in
1990-91 to 71.0 percent in 2002-03. The six-year graduation rate
declined from 82 percent for the Fall 1989 freshman class to 78
percent for the Fall 1996 freshman class. On the other hand, student
satisfaction with: class size relative to type of course; course
content in major field; the university's concern for them as
individuals; and classroom/laboratory facilities have improved since
Summary and Implications:
What is remarkable about these trends is that while
students and faculty have changed significantly during a very
difficult financial climate, JMU students continue to graduate at a
very high rate and express very high levels of satisfaction with the
university. One might expect that a growth of almost 45 percent in
twelve years would have a significant impact on student perceptions
of the institution and how they perform academically. By all
indicators, JMU continues to be a very positive place for students,
both academically and socially. It is a testament to the skill and
quality of the instructional faculty that they continue to provide
an excellent educational experience despite the large changes in the
faculty and students.
What are the implications for
the next ten years for JMU from these trends? A few possibilities
are noted below:
The increased percentage of students who are female
has had an impact on the social and academic environment of the
university. It is likely that the overall graduation rate of JMU
will return to 80 percent or higher because women tend to graduate
at a higher rate than men. Support services have changed to
accommodate the needs of women. There may be implications for
intercollegiate athletics as it attempts to conform to Title IX
requirements for gender equity.
While the percentage of minority students at JMU has
remained fairly constant, the dramatic decline in African-American
students has been a source of concern to many individuals. The
impact of these changes on services to multicultural students has
been significant and may continue to be troubling to many students,
faculty, and staff as the university attempts to serve a diverse
The continued financial stress of the Commonwealth
will likely result in students funding higher percentages of their
total education. Non-Virginia students already pay 100 percent of
their total cost. Higher tuition costs will make it more difficult
for students and their parents to afford a higher education. Tight
budgets will require innovative instructional methods to be used to
educate a larger student body. JMU is significantly underfunded
relative to its peers and the Commonwealth's own standards. This
underfunding results in the need to instruct larger numbers of
students without significant increases in faculty, staff, and
operating funds. The need for external funds to support major
initiatives has never been greater.
The Commonwealth is expecting more than 38,000
additional students to seek higher education by 2010. Most Virginia
public institutions, including JMU, will not likely increase
undergraduate enrollment unless sufficient funding and facilities
are provided. The implication is that JMU will become even more
highly selective. The quality of undergraduates is likely to improve
in the next few years as more highly qualified students seek the
same number of spaces.
The trends described above and in the following
tables present significant challenges to JMU in the next ten years.
While it is impossible to predict what JMU will be like in 2012, it
is likely that it will be as different then as it is in 2003 from
from what it was in 1990-91.
You may view the tables at the following address:
The Office of Institutional Research intends to
track these major trends and report them to the university community
on a regular basis. Below is a list of the major trends.