A new academic
year is an appropriate time to look back at some of the high points
of JMU’s 2001-02 academic year. I’ve briefly described here
what we found in our look back. My more in-depth review of the year
is available at http://www.jmu.edu/president/sept2002_letter.html.
Independent studies again cited JMU repeatedly as one of America’s
finest colleges or universities. U.S. News & World Report has cited
— for nine years in a row — JMU as the best public master’s-level
university in the South. It was one of many national publications to
praise JMU’s quality. The author of one guidebook summed things
up nicely when he wrote: “JMU is almost too perfect to be believed.”
At my inauguration in 1999, I announced that JMU’s enrollment
would stabilize after reaching previously agreed-upon state enrollment
projections. With relatively modest increases during the last few years,
our current enrollment is slightly more than 15,000. While our enrollment
has been relatively stable, current demand for admission to JMU continues
to grow, and we find ourselves in the difficult position of having to
decline many outstanding applicants. This past year, we received more
than 16,000 applications for an entering freshman class of around 3,300.
A variety of factors have combined to create a major budget shortfall
in Virginia. This necessitates budget cuts in public universities and
colleges as well as all other state agencies. At this time, the state
budget picture remains increasingly pessimistic for the 2002-04 biennium,
and we are dealing with cuts in our budget in a manner designed to minimize
the effect they will have on our academic programs. It is certainly
our hope that the state’s revenue picture will improve. However,
no immediate end to the budgetary problem is in sight.
In addition to JMU’s being recognized in national publications,
there have been many other activities and recognitions that illustrate
the excellence of JMU’s academic programs.
JMU has quickly
become a national leader in technology and is one of 36 universities
in the nation recognized by the National Security Agency as a Center
of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. JMU’s
first Ph.D. program — a research doctorate in communication sciences
and disorders — began this fall. Faculty members from throughout
the university community received a multitude of individual honors and
recognitions during the past year. I have listed the major awards in
my year-end review on the Web at http://www.jmu.edu/president/
As always, JMU students demonstrated that the learning process continues
outside the classroom. U.S. News & World Report recognized JMU’s
service-learning program as one of the nation’s 25 best. More
than 1,500 JMU students volunteer their time and energies each year
to more than 100 area civic clubs and agencies.
Shortly after the 2001-02 year began, we opened a new facility that
has been high on the wish list for faculty members and students for
many years — a 500-vehicle parking deck. A major addition containing
a conference center was added to the College Center with the opening
of the Leeolou Alumni Center, giving our alumni association —
for the first time ever — a major facility to call its own.
The need for private funding has become even more critical for JMU,
and the past year was characteristic of our increasing efforts to raise
private funds. Total private giving to the university in 2001-02 increased
by 7 percent over the previous year — from $5.6 million to a record
$6 million. Annual private support for JMU has more than doubled in
I have been a part of James Madison University since 1975, and I remain
excited about the university’s past, present and future. Still,
it is not a perfect world. Our funding is far less than it should be.
We need additional faculty members, staff members and facilities to
fully support top-quality programs for our outstanding student body.
Even with the needs that we have, I am extremely optimistic about the
future of our university. I continue to have great pride in JMU and
all the people associated with it. We are confident this will be another
wonderful year for the university.
Linwood H. Rose