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 Montpelier Magazine

John Douglas Hall represents the Father of the Constitution at James Madison Day; keynote speaker John O. Marsh Jr.; JMU President Linwood Rose recognizes Virginia legislator and JMU friend Kevin Miller; and 2003 James Madison Citizenship Award winner Leigh Buckley ('04) accepts her award from 2002 winner Vida Huber.

James Madison Day

Celebrating the founding father, academic honors, donors and JMU's largest gift to date

WHEN THE JMU COMMUNITY CAME TOGETHER on March 19 to celebrate James Madison Day 2003, the legacy of the Father of the Constitution remained undiminished, even on the eve of war in Iraq and amid the possibility of renewed terror at home.

"All of these circumstances point to the vulnerability of the open society and how much we need the wisdom of Madison today," said the Hon. Jack O. Marsh Jr., former congressman and secretary of the Army. During his keynote address at the James Madison Convocation, Marsh said, "In these troubled times, the stakes are high, the risks are large and the need is great. But the same could be said of Phila-delphia in 1787, when James Madison became a key player on a new world stage."

In the face of terror and risks to civil liberties, Marsh said, " … We must make shine brighter and wider and longer the light James Madison helped kindle more than two centuries ago in Philadelphia."

Marsh also issued some challenges to JMU. In its Life and Times of James Madison undergraduate course, Marsh called on the university to look beyond Madison's accomplishments. "Ironically, his extraordinary achievements as a political leader have obscured the philosophy that produced the achievements. ... I urge you to consider him from the dimension of a political philosopher."

He said JMU should play a leadership role by bringing its nationally acclaimed Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance to bear in creating a new cyber infrastructure in which "we maximize the great advantages of information technology, but minimize encroachments on civil liberty and citizens' privacy."

SGA President Levar Stoney ('04) welcomed guests to the convocation on behalf of the student body, while voice professor Dorothy Maddison sang The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. The JMU Wind Symphony, under J. Patrick Rooney, also performed.

Last year's James Madison Citizenship Award recipient, Vida Huber, associate vice president for the College of Integrated Science and Technology, presented this year's award to junior Leigh Buckley. On her own initiative, Buckley created Learning Leaders, which annually pairs 25 JMU students with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and other learning disabilities with 25 local schoolchildren with similar learning disabilities. Because of this mentorship, parents of these schoolchildren have reported higher grades, an increased motivation for academics and a more positive outlook on their future.

President Linwood H. Rose recognized the Hon. Kevin Miller ('57, '59M) for his 20 years of service in the Virginia legislature and his on-going support of JMU. Miller announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election.

Douglas T. Brown, provost and vice president for academic affairs, recognized Madison Scholars, distinguished teachers, valedictorians and faculty members who will retire this year. Find profiles of these award recipients and retirees at

During the ceremony,  Rose announced the largest gift in JMU history and introduced Charles Edwin Estes, former CEO of Great Coastal Express. He has contributed $2.5 million in honor of his late wife, Dorothy Thomasson Estes ('45). The gift will help build the future Dorothy Thomasson Estes Center for Theatre and Dance. "We will create a splendid home for the arts at JMU," Rose said. The donation will be part of $5 million in gifts to be raised for the Estes Center. The private funds will augment the $29.8 million for the building that was approved by Virginia voters in last fall's bond issue referendum. A reception later in the day honored Estes and his family and allowed the arts faculty to thank their benefactor.

Earlier in the day, JMU's scholarship donors saw for themselves how their gifts make a difference in the lives of students, who were able to thank their benefactors in person. A scholarship luncheon with student presentations and academic recognitions paired donors and their scholarship recipients. Rose thanked the donors for their generosity and, underscoring the need for increased private funding in the face of budget cuts, asked the 350 attendees to help identify new donors.

On March 18, two JMU senior debate team members won the inaugural 2003 Battle for the Madison Cup. Michelle Lancaster and Cate Morrison contested debaters from Mary Washington University and the universities of Richmond and Pittsburgh. The James Madison Center sponsored the James Madison Commemorative Debate and Citizenship Forum, and the four teams argued both sides of the resolution: "That the Patriot Act(s) are an unpatriotic infringement upon Amer-ican civil liberties."

JMU and MWU debaters were tasked with arguing for the Patriot Act, and both teams argued that the "founding fathers could not fathom the destruction that terrorists can wreak at the push of a button."

Debater Leah Harris of Pittsburgh countered that "The founding fathers could fathom today's devastating threats, but they would never give up civil liberties for security."

While debate judges from the Mary Washington academic affairs office and the Augusta and Rockingham County commonwealth attor-neys' offices deliberated, mem-bers of the audience shared their views. About 20 faculty and staff members, students, and guests spoke in a 50/50 split in favor of and against the Patriot Act.

Shelly James ('83), law clerk to Judge Robert P. Frank of the Virginia Court of Appeals, moderated the 2003 debate.

The statue of James Madison in front of Varner House was the setting for the finale of the student essay competition. Future teacher Diana Schwartz ('03) read her winning essay, "Leadership and Constitutionality in Times of War," there as part of the James Madison Day fanfare.