Alger reports, encourages at annual staff meeting
JMU President Jonathan R. Alger’s third annual address to the university staff highlighted many accomplishments, ongoing projects and goals JMU has identified as important to becoming the model of the engaged university.
“We share a special privilege in helping people to achieve their goals and dreams,” Alger said at the Aug. 15 event, which was sponsored by the JMU Employee Advisory Committee.
After recognizing new staff members who joined JMU since last year’s address to the staff, Alger focused his remarks on the theme of community and family, highlighting JMU’s recognition as a 2014 Great Colleges to Work For institution by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Eight staff members offered brief statements of what JMU means to them. Many focused on the sense of family engendered at the university, where they feel valued and sense a common purpose.
Alger reported that The Madison Plan, JMU’s strategic plan to make the institution the national model of the engaged university would help answer the question “Is college worth it?” – a frequently heard query throughout the nation. He reviewed the three pillars of engagement:
- Engaged Learning: The process is active, collaborate and can be different in different disciplines.
- Community Engagement: “We believe we should be engaged with the world in solving problems.”
- Civic Engagement: “As a part of our identity because of our relationship with James Madison, we all have a role to play.”
The president informed the staff about community and diversity matters, saying, “We have a strong commitment to access and inclusion.” He gave updates on two matters:
- Valley Scholars: A pilot program will commence this fall with 35 middle-school students from seven school districts in the Shenandoah Valley. The goal of the new Valley Scholars is to encourage students who may not think higher education is achievable for them to do so. A major component of the program is the offer of full tuition to attend JMU for students who meet enrollment standards.
- Campus safety and sexual assault: “All of us take these issues seriously,” Alger said, noting that these issues affect all colleges. Speaking as a father, university president and civil rights lawyer, Alger said, “Sexual assault has no place in our society and we will not tolerate it.” He cautioned that facts and circumstances matter and that as Americans, we must respect the rule of law.
On the topic of money and budgets, Alger reported that 367 gifts have been made to the We Are Madison effort to acknowledge relationships with inspirational JMU people. He stressed that “compensation is a high priority – a top priority” while noting that Virginia’s budget situation is still evolving in light of revenue shortfalls.
Continuing what is becoming a tradition at the back-to-school staff meeting, Alger invited employees celebrating birthdays ending in a zero to stand. He and JMU music Professor Dorothy Maddison led the group in singing “Happy Birthday” to their fellow employees. Maddison also led the group in singing the university’s Alma Mater.
“It’s an exciting time to be at the university,” Alger said. “Let’s continue to dream big together. Go Dukes!”
Also at the gathering, Cannie Campbell and Dietrich Maune reported that 41 percent of JMU faculty and staff made contributions to the university through the Employee Giving Campaign, setting an all-time record.
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Aug. 15, 2014