Spring 1998

Carrier Steps Down, But Not Out
First JMU President to Become First JMU Chancellor

Like a college commencement, JMU's March 25 news conference marked an ending and a beginning.

On that bright spring day, Ronald E. Carrier announced from the front steps of Wilson Hall his plans to step down from the JMU presidency after 27 years - signaling the end of an era that saw tremendous change and growth at the institution.

Two days later, the JMU Board of Visitors accepted Carrier's request to step down and praised his nearly three decades of service to JMU, as well as the enormous contributions of his wife, Edith. Then, noting that the president's experience and his knowledge of the university were too valuable to lose, the board named him JMU's first chancellor.

As chancellor, Carrier, 65, will lend his advice and expertise on matters related to raising private support and building partnerships for the university and on international education.

The president, warning that traditional sources of income - tax dollars and student tuition - are not expected to increase significantly, has stressed that JMU's future success de- pends on increasing private support. He took a leave of absence from the presi- dency last fall to seek out alternate sources of funds for JMU.

Carrier, who at 38 was the youngest college president in Virginia when he took office in January 1971 and who will leave office as the commonwealth's senior college president, will remain as head of JMU until his successor is hired, but no later than Dec. 31.

The search for his successor began immediately with the naming of former rector and senior Visitor Alexander B. Berry III to head the presidential search committee to review candidates. The full board of visitors will make the final selection.

Berry, a Richmond banker, heads a 12-member committee that also includes Rector Paul J. Chiapparone of Plano, Texas, as an ex-officio member; five other board members; two faculty representatives, the current and former Faculty Senate speakers; two students; and the president of the JMU Alumni Association. Berry said the committee also would seek input from the faculty and staff, students and the public on the qualities desired of a new president.

During Carrier's presidency, the institution changed from a small, predominantly female teacher's school, Madi-son College, to a major com-prehensive institution, with the name change to James Madison University coming in 1977.

"A day has not gone by in more than 27 years when I didn't act, think, strain, push, pull, yell, plead on the part of James Madison University," Carrier said during his March 25 announcement.

His efforts are evident in the national acclaim JMU has received in recent years. For the past four years, JMU has been ranked first in academic quality among Southern public universities in the highly regarded U.S. News & World Report college ratings.

Among the major changes at JMU during Carrier's 27-year presidency:

  • Approximately 40 major facilities worth $210 million have been constructed.
  • Enrollment has increased from 4,041 to 13,714.
  • The percentage of male students has risen from 25 to 44 percent.
  • The percentage of minority students has risen from 1.4 to 11 percent.
  • Applications for admission have increased from 3,800 a year to 15,313 this year.
  • Average SAT scores for entering freshmen rose from 987 to 1174.
  • The number of full-time faculty and staff members increased from 500 to 1,750.
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