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 Montpelier Magazine


JMU President Linwood H. Rose

Message from the President

Thanks to Virginians who backed the bond issue, critical projects will move ahead at JMU

On Election Day, Virginia voters made an unequivocal statement about the importance of public higher education when they overwhelmingly approved a $900.5 million bond issue for higher education facilities. I want to extend my deepest thanks to every Virginian who backed the bond issue.

There was tremendous support for the bond issue from members of the James Madison University family throughout the state. Alumni, parents of students, the faculty and staff, and students all rallied to the cause and helped the bond issue pass by nearly a 3-to-1 margin. In addition to providing much-needed facilities for Virginia colleges, the vote was a powerful show of support for the value of public higher education.

JMU will receive more funding from the bond issue than will any other college or university in the state. Over the next six or seven years, $99.9 million in projects have been authorized at JMU. Our projects will include a new library for the campus east of Interstate 81, major renovations of Harrison Hall and Burruss Hall, and extensive infrastructure work on our heating facilities and handicapped accessibility.

The centerpiece of the bond projects for JMU is a two-building complex for the arts -- a Center for the Arts and a Music Recital Hall. Just under $51 million will be allocated from the bond issue for these two projects. In addition, JMU will look to the generosity of alumni, parents and other friends of the university to raise an additional $10 million necessary to construct these long-awaited facilities.

The arts center and recital hall represent more than bricks and mortar. They demonstrate JMU's commitment to the arts and a renewed confirmation of the intrinsic role the arts play in a student's total education -- whether it be on the primary, elementary, secondary or collegiate level.

Sadly, when funds dwindle at our schools and colleges, administrators and elected officials too often look at the arts as an area to bear the brunt of the reduction in funds. Programs in the arts, unfortunately, are sometimes seen as expendable niceties -- not as essential components to becoming "educated and enlightened citizens," as JMU's mission statement declares. This is clearly wrong. The arts are not peripheral to education; they are at the core of education.

Twenty-four centuries ago, Plato expressed a truth that has stood the test of time: "The patterns of the arts are the key to all learning."

The arts are fundamental to total education because they are directly connected to the human experience. They deal with representations of life as we know it, or perhaps as how it should be. One cannot study the arts without touching on other fields and gaining some understanding of them.

On a less lofty, but still quite important plane, the arts can contribute significantly to one's success after college. Writer/editor Norman Cousins points out: "Without the arts, education is not education, but vocational training. Practicing one's profession successfully calls for skills in dealing with people, for being able to comprehend the connection between cause and effect, and the ability to carry the burdens placed on the individual in a free society. The arts help to prepare the human mind for such needs."

There is little debate over the importance of the arts to the community's cultural development. The completion of our arts complex, which will be across Main Street from the original campus, will be a tremendous asset not only for JMU but also for the entire Shenandoah Valley. 

Finally, and most importantly, the arts are invaluable to the individual. There are two types of education, according to John Adams: "One teaches us how to make a living, and the other how to live."

The arts indeed show us how to live. The arts are integral to every person's life. Our personal, social, economic and cultural environments are shaped by the arts.

The arts surround us in everyday life: from the design of a cereal box to the masterpieces at the National Gallery of Art, from MTV to the New York Philharmonic, from community theater to Broadway, from the Macarena to the Bolshoi Ballet.

The arts are an essential part of our lives, and any great university has a responsibility to enhance their presence in our society. The new arts complex will be a key element in making James Madison University an even stronger force in this vital field.


Linwood H. Rose