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 Montpelier Magazine

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist greets JMU president Linwood H. Rose at the Library of Congress black tie event honoring James Madison.

Rose joins Rehnquist on national panel

"James Madison was clearly the right man at the right time," says U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "His Herculean efforts, along with those of others, resulted in the ratification of the Constitution with a Bill of Rights.

"This constitutional government enabled a fledgling democracy to grow into the most powerful force for liberty the world has ever known," said Sessions, whose legislation created a national commission to mark the 250th anniversary of James Madison's birth. Sessions' bill had 39 Senate cosponsors, including Virginia Sen. John Warner and former Virginia Sen. Charles Robb, and was signed by then-President Bill Clinton last December.

The James Madison Commemoration Commission tapped JMU President Linwood H. Rose to serve as one of 14 members of an advisory committee to the national panel. The 19-member national commission, chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, led America's celebration of Madison's 250th birthday on March 16. Leaders of both political parties in the U.S. House and Senate and representatives selected by the president serve on the commission.

Lawmakers who put the commission together sought representation from all three branches of government, according to Sessions, "in part to recognize the constitutional system that Madison created." The commission published a selection of Madison's writings and tributes to Madison, organized a national celebration held at the Library of Congress and sponsored a nationwide essay contest on Madison for elementary and secondary school students.

Joining Rose on the 14-member advisory committee is Phil Bigler ('74, '76M), who took his place when JMU appointed him director of the James Madison Center on March 16. Other members include the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, executive director of Montpelier, president of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, the U.S. archivist, and eight Madison experts selected by congressional leaders.

Rose says, "I am honored to be chosen as a member of the advisory committee. To be named to a committee established by the Congress of the United States is a great individual honor for both Mr. Bigler and myself, but it is more importantly a recognition that JMU has become accepted nationally as a focal point of knowledge and expertise about James Madison. We are most pleased to see the link between our university and Mr. Madison grow stronger."

By Michelle Hite ('88)