Montpelier Fall 1999
As President Linwood H. Rose navigates JMU on its starward course toward becoming the nation's gold standard for the total undergraduate experience, the university's main means of transport will be private giving.
"The ability to go above and beyond what the state and tuition can fund will distinguish excellent public institutions in the future," Rose says. "We can't count on taxpayers and tuition to do it all anymore."
While JMU has spent the last 20 whirlwind years on physical growth, the next 10 years will be spent on increasing the university's private funding base. "We have built the institution, and now we have to flesh it out," Rose says. "And that means gaining more private support. "
By JMU's 100th birthday in 2008, I want to see a multimillion dollar increase in private giving to the university," the president says.
Such a dramatic increase is an ambitious goal, he says, but a feasible one. And the president himself will be at the forefront of the effort. Rose says he envisions spending considerable time building JMU's base of private support - by meeting personally with potential donors, by visiting alumni gatherings and by getting college deans, administrators and volunteers to do the same.
"Over the next 10 years, we will increasingly turn to alumni, parents, business partners and other JMU stakeholders and ask them to join us in our journey to excellence. What we're really talking about," Rose says, "is establishing a responsibility for private support as part of our culture - one that permeates the entire university community."
That support is crucial to distinguishing JMU's quality and reputation in higher education, the president says, and he offers a case in point. Most Virginia students who apply to JMU also apply to the University of Virginia, William and Mary, and Virginia Tech. Unlike JMU, those schools have aggressively built their private endowments, which range from $330 million to $1 billion, over the last 15 years. That allows them to offer scholarships, programs and facilities that attract the best students and to offer professorships that recruit a world-class faculty.
JMU, which has a $23 million endowment, needs that same flexibility, Rose says. "What we do here at JMU is transform people's lives. We help students set life goals, offer them life-altering experiences, arm them with the skills and knowledge they need to lead happy, satisfied lives as adults and to become effective leaders in the workplace and society," he explains. "Every day, professors personally influence the students they teach and mentor, and that's the strength of our teaching culture. Inside and outside the classroom, students influence one another, and that's a strength of our student culture.
"Alumni know this because they have experienced it for themselves," the president says. "Now we're asking alumni to become part of that experience again by helping to change students' lives."
Changing lives translates into providing endowed professorships and eminent scholar funding to attract and keep outstanding professors, more release time, travel and research opportunities, and training on new technology. "The faculty come into contact with so many students," Rose says, "we owe it to ourselves to make sure they're as current as they can be."
Rose's funding wish list also includes support for more need-based and merit scholarships and an endowment to provide financial aid for the university's Studies Abroad and international internship programs. "Those programs involve extra expense which is prohibitive for some students," Rose notes. Those educational opportunities and the competitive edge they give JMU graduates should be open to all students, he says. "That's just one example of where we really have an opportunity to affect people's lives and what they do in the future."
Private giving comes down to supporting students and professors. "I really believe people give to people and want to be involved in their dreams," the president says.
Making those dreams possible means creating joint research opportunities for faculty and students, creating innovative programs that fill unique niches in higher education, improving academic facilities, upgrading JMU's communication network, and building a center for visual and performing arts.
Rose is counting on tapping the enthusiasm and loyalty alumni feel for JMU. "This institution has made a difference in their lives, and they're proud of their experience here, proud of their degree and proud of their alma mater. They are already actively involved and do so much for JMU. I know over time that they also want to give back."
Rose has already made the first moves to increase private giving. Last winter he hired Mitchell Moore, a veteran of major fund-raising campaigns at the University of Richmond and Sweet Briar, to build the university's fund-raising infrastructure and launch JMU's own ambitious campaign over the next decade.
He has renamed JMU's annual giving program the Madison Fund, which seeks restricted dollars for annual operating use by colleges and departments and unrestricted dollars for funding needs that tuition and tax dollars don't cover.
Additionally, JMU's future $3 million Alumni Center, to be built east of Interstate-81, is being funded now through a partnership between JMU and private gifts from alumni.
Last year JMU raised a record $5 million in private funding, $1 million more than the year before. Just under three-fourths of the total supports academic programs, and the remaining one-fourth supports athletics programs. Approximately $750,000 in private funds was added to JMU's endowment.
"Last year's success shows the tremendous support and generosity of our alumni, parents of students, the corporate and business community, and faculty and staff members," Rose says. "It's that same support and generosity that will make our future fund-raising efforts successful."