Seasonal Student Issues
There’s a seasonal ebb and flow when it comes to student issues. Here are a few things your student may be experiencing this month:
- Some students lose their motivation for the final push
- Spring fever hits and problems arise as students become restless
- Anticipating the end of the year
- Frustration and confusion develop because of class registration
- Papers and exams are piling up
- Summer job panic
- Feeling like they are no longer accountable for their actions – may turn to vandalism
- Sexual assault increases
- Concerns about moving home for the summer
Planning for a Successful Summer
The end of the term is right around the corner and there are decisions to be made and plans to be prepared. Here are some things to think about as you and your student ready for a successful summer season…
Figure Out Storage. Is your student moving off campus next year? Is there too much stuff to fit in the family car? If so, you’ll need to figure out storage options. Those might include checking with next year’s landlord, seeing if there’s storage offered on campus or renting a storage facility in town. That stuff needs to go somewhere!
Determine Classes for Next Term. Is your student all set with classes for next term? Those might include summer classes, internship credits or fall term choices. Or maybe she’s transferring. Just make sure those academic ducks are in a row.
Have Graduation Specs in Place. If your student is graduating, has he ordered his cap and gown and filled out all the necessary paperwork? Have plans been made for out-of-town visitors? What’s the plan for after the graduation ceremonies when it comes to dinner reservations? These kinds of details can sneak up on you.
Know What the Summer Will Bring. It’s difficult for students to plunge into their summers without having a plan. Does she have a job lined up? An internship? Or will she study abroad or take classes somewhere else? By getting these details hammered out now, your student will be able to take full advantage of her full summer.
Other Summer Considerations
- Scholarship deadlines
- Having housing lined up for the fall
- Transportation home after the spring term is over
- Budgeting for summer costs
- Living arrangements for the summer
The Need-to-Know about Distracted Driving
Too many of us are focusing on texts and phone calls, instead of keeping our eyes on the road. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 more were injured in distracted-affected crashes. But these aren't simply statistics. They are children and parents, neighbors and friends.
Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual — taking your eyes off the road
- Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing
While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.
Other distracting activities include:
- Using a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a GPS or other navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD or other device
Did You Know?
Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:
- 11% of all drivers under 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
- A quarter of teens respond once or more to a text message every time they drive.
- 20% of teens and 10% of parents say they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds – like driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
- Engaging in visual/manual tasks, such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting, increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
- Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
So, as your commuting student gets in the car each morning, talk with him about distracted driving. As your on-campus student catches rides with friends, talk with her about distracted driving. It’s a real issue with tragic consequences. That text or call can wait. It’s time to keep our eyes on the road.
Sources: Fastlane.dot.gov; Distraction.gov
Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, according to Distraction.gov.
Figuring Out Our Families
Taking a look at birth order
National Sibling Day is coming up on April 10, so focusing on family dynamics makes a lot of sense. Part of the equation can be birth order, which, according to some experts, plays an integral role when it comes to why we are the way we are.
Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, says that the following general characteristics fit various birth orders:
An Only Child or First-Born may be a perfectionist, reliable, a list-maker, well-organized, critical, serious, scholarly, an achiever, self-sacrificing, a people-pleaser, conservative, a supporter of law and order, believe in authority and ritual, legalistic, loyal and self-reliant. Only children or first-borns often feel confident that others take them seriously.
A Middle Child may be a mediator, have the fewest pictures in the family photo album, avoid conflict, be independent, extremely loyal to a peer group and have special friends. Middle children can have the most contradictory characteristics, such as being friendly and outgoing or quiet and shy. They may be the ones in the family who get “lost.”
A Youngest Child may be manipulative, charming, a bit of a showoff, a people person, a good salesperson, precocious, outgoing, affectionate, uncomplicated, rebellious, critical, temperamental, spoiled, impatient and impetuous. Youngest children may sometimes be viewed as absent-minded and have a tough time being taken seriously.
Of course these are generalities and characteristics may vary. Birth order is about the tendencies we have, based on where we fall in the family. Other factors that may influence birth order include:
- Spacing. If there are more than five years between children, a “second family” of sorts begins, causing children to take on different roles than those mentioned above.
- Gender. If there are two girls in a family and one boy (or some other mix), that can impact how birth order plays out.
- Physicality. The size of kids, their physical beauty/plainness, disabilities and more can also turn “typical” birth order patterns around.
No one person fits all these characteristics. Birth order is but one tool to examine family patterns and relationships in that never-ending quest to figure out your family!
Source: Family Issues Facts from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/4359.htm
Being a Coach & Encourager
One of the key roles that parents and family members can play during their student’s time at school is that of coach. This is different from doing things for your student or setting him off completely on his own. It’s a more nurturing, developmental approach that can have great results!
Listen to your student talk about her college vision – What is she looking forward to, what does she hope to accomplish, what will equal success in her eyes?
Inspire him to unlock his true potential – Encourage self-exploration, trying different classes, meeting new people and getting involved so he can explore what fits best. You can ask leading questions to help this process along.
Encourage her to take action when needed – This is something she needs to do on her own; no one else can do it for her.
Empower him – Some students may not fully know where to begin, so adapt a “Yes, you can!” attitude and talk with him about things he can do, one step at a time.
Solicit suggestions – Instead of putting words (and actions) in your student’s mouth, let her contribute to the process too. It’s important that she learn to trust her own ideas and instincts, rather than leaning on those of others.
Provide tools – Do your own campus research so you can point out resources he can tap into, from the career center (it’s not just for seniors anymore!) to the wellness center to the study abroad office.
Encourage creativity – There’s nothing saying that your student has to do things the same old way! Encourage her to tap into creative ideas, ways of thought, problem-solving strategies and more.
Energize him – We all need a boost now and then to keep us going. Provide him with the energy that comes from having someone recognize a job well done or root him on in person, when possible. He’ll feed off your energy!
Push her toward the journey – While it’s easy to get derailed from our path sometimes, having a coach to push us along and provide encouragement makes it easier. Talk with your student about how she’s feeling being on a certain path and try not to make demands that she stay on that path if it’s not feeling right. There are plenty of variations that might fit her more effectively.
Encourage reflection – As you coach your student through her college process, make sure that both of you set time aside to reflect on how things are going. The process of doing without reflection isn’t half as satisfactory, or effective!
Students may sometimes bite off more than they can chew. That can manifest itself with an overwhelming class load, too many hours at work or taking on student leadership positions in bulk.
One of the roles of a coach is to encourage students to “add rungs to their ladder.” They don’t need to take huge steps all the time – sometimes they can add smaller steps in between to help them get where they want to go.
Sharing the Funny during National Humor Month
The Month of Mirth is upon us, as National Humor Month takes center stage. And infusing a little bit of humor into your student’s life could be just what she needs during this busy month!
Here are a few ways to do just that:
Dress Up the Family Dog. Or guinea pig, cat, pot-bellied pig or neighbor! Take a photo of this goofy site and email or text it to your student, along with a fitting caption.
Make Some Mad Libs. At www.eduplace.com/tales you can create your own “Wacky Web Tales” and come up with some pretty wild stories. Send the link to your student, along with a sample one you did, just to make him giggle.
Tap Into Your Inner Muppet. Encourage friends and family to quickly take the “Which Muppet are You?” quiz at www.buzzfeed.com/jenlewis/which-muppet-are-you. It’s a hoot to see which Muppet personality best fits you!
Send a Funny T-Shirt. Whether it has your student’s favorite cereal on it, a photo of her little nephew making a wacky face or a word she finds silly (“persnickety,” perhaps?), send it along for a fashionable funny!
Find a YouTube Clip. What was it that made your student laugh when he was a kid? Chances are, you might find a clip of it on YouTube! Type in a keyword like “Cookie Monster” or “Grover” or “Smurf” and you just might encounter a funny blast from the past that you can send along to your student.
Sending a bit of mirth to give your student a laugh could be just what he needs right now!
Use an index card or piece of cardstock/cardboard, with different candies conveying your special message…
- You make me Snicker – thanks for the laughs!
- I appreciate all the Nuggets (Hershey’s Nuggets) of knowledge you share!
- Sending Mounds of support!
- You have so many great Twix up your sleeve!
- You’re putting in a Whopper of an effort at school – I’m proud of you!
- I love you is the Reese's-son for this card!
Seasonal Student Issues
There’s a seasonal ebb and flow when it comes to student issues. Here are a few things your student may be experiencing this month:
- Low energy levels and restlessness
- Mid-semester slump and sickness
- Making plans for next year – housing, classes and financial aid
- Hidden conflicts between roommates and friends begin to arise
- Drug and alcohol use may increase
- Mid-term anxiety
- Seniors thinking about graduation
- Excitement or depression about Spring Break plans
- Pledging begins for Greek organizations
- Changing or deciding on a major
Overtired & Overwhelmed
Most adults 18 and older need between seven and nine hours of sleep, according to The National Sleep Foundation. Yet, college students don’t always make this a priority – and it impacts them. They get overtired, which can lead to stress and being overwhelmed.
Getting Quality Sleep
The experts suggest a few simple tactics to help increase quality sleep:
- Get to bed around the same time each night so the body gets used to a regular sleeping schedule.
- Don’t make the bed a key study space because then it’ll be associated with stressful activity.
- Avoid watching the clock.
- Establish a relaxing routine about a half hour before bed, like taking a shower, reading or listening to music, plus turn off the TV and computer.
- Consider using “white noise” – like a fan – to help fall asleep.
- Try to make the bed as comfortable as possible.
- Finish eating about two hours before bed so the body won’t be working on digestion.
- Avoid exercise right before bed, since a dropping body temperature is what the brain associates with sleep.
By trying to get her sleeping patterns under control, your student will be doing herself the ultimate favor. Many students are unaware that their sleep deprivation can cause them serious problems – they may be so used to being consistently sleepy that they don’t realize their lack of sleep is unhealthy or abnormal. Good, quality sleep can go a long way in making students sharper, healthier, happier and more in-control individuals.
Being overtired can cause:
- Higher susceptibility to illness
- Lack of energy
- Motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty retaining new information
Lack of adequate sleep often causes students’ grades to drop – sometimes dramatically. And sleep-deprived all-nighters? They create a sleep debt that can be tough to overcome.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Does your student know what to do in case of fire? Whether he lives on or off campus, this lifetime skill is an important one to master. You can help by sharing this simple acronym with him…
- Pull the pin – this allows you to discharge the extinguisher
- Aim at the base of the fire – you want to hit the fuel, not the flames
- Squeeze the top handle or lever – this depresses a button to release the pressurized extinguisher agent
- Sweep from side to side – do this until the fire is out, starting from a safe distance away and then moving forward – keep an eye on the area once the fire is out to make sure it doesn’t re-ignite
Source: Oklahoma State University EHS, http://ehs.okstate.edu/modules/exting/howto.htm
Encouraging Students Through Midterms to the Finish Line
Students are facing midterms and Spring Break is around the corner. They’ve almost made it to the halfway point. Whew!
Now comes the trick of pushing themselves forward in order to finish up the year on a high note. There are a few little things you can encourage them to do that can make a BIG difference!
Do a Mind Dump. Your student likely has a million things on her mind, like starting that 30-page paper and figuring what kind of job she can get for the summer. Instead of letting the list make her dizzy, she can help herself by doing a Mind Dump. It involves grabbing a notebook and jotting down <<everything>> on her To Do List. It doesn’t have to be orderly – she can do that later. She just needs to capture what’s on her mind in order to clear her head, get organized and move forward with the things she needs to accomplish.
Knock Off a Few Lingering Tasks. Once a week, encourage your student to pick a task or responsibility that has been lingering too long on his To Do list and get it done! By picking just one of these things per week, it becomes more doable and he’ll feel better about not having them hovering over him constantly.
Plan Some Fun. We all need things to look forward to, whether it’s a Spring Break trip or taking a walk with friends after dinner. So, it’s a good idea for your student to plan some fun stuff that breaks up all the “have to's” and “shoulds” on her list.
Step Away from the Computer. It’s easy, especially during the midterm push, to spend <<a lot>> of time in front of the computer. The eyes sting, the back hurts and sitting all the time stinks! That’s why it’s important for students to step away from the computer now and then so it doesn’t feel like it’s running their lives. It’ll be okay if your student doesn’t check his Facebook page today because he’d rather shoot hoops with some friends. He can return emails tomorrow, once he’s had a good meal. Writing, researching and studying are important, there’s no doubt. Yet, everyone needs to step away from cyberspace now and then to get back into real time.
Stay Connected. Students need to reach out to family and friends regularly in order to feel in touch and in tune. So, encourage your student to take time for campus friends, even if it’s studying together or quickly grabbing coffee to catch up. And she should keep up with her community service efforts, too. It’s important to stay connected to others to increase well-being and to keep on going.
Take Care of Body & Soul. Students need to eat healthy stuff on a regular basis and get into some solid sleep patterns. Moving their bodies and heading to the health center if they feel a cold coming on is smart, too. A body that is working well supports a healthy heart and mind.
There are a few intense months left this term and your student can really use your encouragement and support to make it to the finish line.
"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." - Johann Von Goethe
Thankfully, it’s almost springtime! And students can spruce up their spaces with some simple spring cleaning tips…
- Moving furniture to do a thorough sweep and vacuum
- Thinning out their winter clothes as they realize what they haven’t been wearing this season, so they can donate those pieces
- Disinfecting items that get a lot of use – and germs – such as phones, doorknobs, handles and more
- Wading through collected papers so they can shred certain items, file others and recycle the rest
- Washing their blankets and comforters
- Scrubbing out their wastebaskets
- Thoroughly cleaning bathrooms (if they have their own)
- Getting reacquainted with the top of their desk!
Spring cleaning gives students an opportunity to start fresh and get to some of those tasks that get lost in the shuffle. Share your own tips as they continue developing cleaning competencies that will last them a lifetime!
Another benefit of spring cleaning now is that students won’t have as much heavy-duty cleaning to do at the end of the year when they’re trying to juggle final exams and move-out.
Helping Your Busy Student Put Things in Perspective. It’s NOT a contest!
Many students are guilty of it at one point or another: holding “I had less sleep than you did” or “I’m SO busy!” contests. This tends to be a particular phenomenon among student leaders. They swap tales of all-nighters, crammed schedules and three-page To Do lists, almost as a badge of honor, to prove that they are in demand and working hard. Yet, this approach really isn’t good for them. After all, it’s NOT a contest!
If your student seems caught up in this type of frenzy, there are a few discussion points you can tap into to help him assess what is really going on. For instance…
The “Why” of It All. What drives him to do all that he is doing? Interest? Fear of life after college? Competition? An inability to say “no”? By getting deep into the “why” behind his actions, you can help him break it down into a healthier approach.
Use of Time & Energy. What does she enjoy about certain involvements? And does the negative-speak you hear about others (i.e. when she complains about the inefficiency of her student group) indicate that maybe that’s not a healthy use of her time and energy?
Feeling Valued. How does he feel valued by others, whether it’s you, his siblings, his professors, his advisors, or his fellow students? Is he looking for approval or trying to meet perceived expectations?
Reactions to “Busy.” What are her reactions when someone else talks about being so busy? Admiration? Thinking that they’re showing off? Empathy? Feeling bad for them and offering to help? Help her examine WHY she might have those reactions.
Managing Time & Tasks. Is he “working smart” to manage time and tasks? Maybe he needs assistance with time management to juggle the multiple things on his plate.
Pros & Cons. Does she feel that anything in her life is suffering due to her hectic schedule? Sleep? Grades? Making new friends? Time to exercise? Help her look at her overall life to see what’s good and what might be missing.
By addressing this with your busy student before he burns out, you can help him determine how he wants to spend his time and the healthiest ways to accomplish that. Involvement and experiencing all that college has to offer is wise; acting like you’re in a “busy contest” is not. You can help him see the difference.
Why is My Student So Busy?
March can be a busy month when students may not be in touch with you as often as you’re used to. The reasons are numerous:
- Midterm exams and papers are fast approaching
- Student organizations they’ve joined are busy planning end-of-the-term activities
- They’ve made more friends on campus and are spending time with them
- They are job searching for the summer or after graduation
- Community service involvements have deepened, as folks learn how reliable and competent they are
Try not to take it personally, as being engaged is what helps many students stay – and succeed – in school. Reach out to let your student know that you’re there and interested in hearing about his life. He’ll likely have tales to tell!
Low Energy Solutions
A winter slump, sometimes accompanied by sickness, can hit students right about now. To chase the energy-sucking vampires away, here are some simple solutions to suggest…
- Join an intramurals team – regular exercise and social time increases energy levels
- Get outside the room – shaking up your environment can work wonders
- Stop staring at a screen – being engaged offline provides different stimuli
- Sleep well – a well-rested mind and body will automatically have more energy
- Get silly – go on a goofy campus photo shoot with friends for renewed vigor
A Safe Spring Break
If your student is traveling somewhere for Spring Break, you can offer the following reminders to make sure he or she stays safe…
Use the Buddy System – In a new place, you’ll stay safest if you stick together.
Be Smart about Alcohol – If you choose to drink, know where your drink is coming from, don’t trust strangers, and keep your wits about you so your well-being and judgment are never compromised.
Don’t Do Anything Illegal – The consequences are dire if you get arrested, especially in a foreign country.
Protect Your Eyes and Skin – Wear sunscreen, use sunglasses with proper UV protection and also have a hat.
Don’t Go with Strangers – Trusting unknown people can end in tragedy.
Take Care – Carry your wallet close to your body. Know fire escape routes from hotel rooms. Keep a clear head in order to keep yourself – and your friends – safe.
A safe Spring Break is very possible, as long as students stay smart!
Student gifts to make greater impact thanks to the JMU Alumni Association
By Paula Polglase ('92, '96)
Much to the surprise of the Student Alumni Association, the JMU Alumni Association Board of Directors announced a matching gift challenge to the SAA at their February meeting. The challenge offers a $25 donation to the Madison Forever Vision Fund for each new student who joins the SAA. Pratt Templeton (’14), SAA president said, “I felt a great deal of excitement and humility in the confidence that the Alumni Board has in the SAA, along with a tremendous responsibility to fulfill the goal of reaching 500 SAA members by the end of June.”
The Alumni Association Board was impressed with the progress the SAA has made in the last year in terms of leadership, strategic planning and results. “The group’s efforts have already resulted in an increase in student giving to the University over last year,” Larry Caudle, president-elect of the Alumni Association board said. “I was truly amazed at the group’s ‘eye on the ball’ approach to success.”
“I give to JMU for a simple reason- I care deeply about this institution, it's mission and the people behind it." Pratt Templeton ('14)
The SAA efforts have revived student giving at JMU. Although students are encouraged to give back any amount, students who donate $25 or more to any fund (excluding athletics) receive the benefits of SAA membership including volunteer, service and networking events where they interact with alumni. However, the real benefit is being part of a group who is changing the culture at JMU. Caudle says it is imperative to instill a culture of philanthropy toward the University in its young graduates. “The newly-created Student Alumni Association is a gesture by forward-looking students to take on the responsibility of educating our ‘Alumni in Residence’ on the financial realities of the Madison Experience and instill a tradition of giving back,” he said. “This will, no doubt, lead to a similar tradition in our alums.”
With the Alumni Association Board’s matching gift challenge in place Templeton can’t think of a better time for students to donate to JMU. He said, “I give to JMU for a simple reason- I care deeply about this institution, it's mission and the people behind it. I would encourage fellow students to give to what they are passionate about, all the while remembering that their gift, regardless of size, matters. If we want to see the success of JMU proliferate, our support is essential.”
Learn more about the Student Alumni Association
Wish you could participate in an Alternative Break but too afraid to dive into a full week of community service miles away from home? Well, JMU’s new Alternative Weekend Breaks would be a perfect fit for you!
Back in October, ORL staff members Kristin Stephens, FYI Coordinator, and Carson Rader-Bell, FYI Graduate Assistant, took their leadership skills to the farm. While neither considers themselves qualified farmers they donated their time and best effort to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farms in Marlboro Maryland.
Carson and Kristin aren’t new to the alternative breaks, Kristin having completed 5 and Carson 8, but this trip served as a first for both of them because of its length. Clagett Farms worked with JMU’s Alternative Break Program to offer an Alternative Weekend Break to students who were interested in sustainable farming. Opposed to the typical weeklong alternative break trips this trip took place over a single weekend.
Alternative Weekend Breaks generally begin on Friday late afternoon/early evening and last until Sunday afternoon. A team of approximately 10 students emerse themselves in local or nearby communities within 200 miles to do service projects. Trips are co-sponsored by Community Service-Learning (CS-L) and another JMU department, according to their website.
“I really like how they pair these trips with service learning so that a lot of the goals of the trip focus on what you can learn from your service rather than just doing volunteer work because I think there is a big difference,” Carson said.
Kristin served as the trips Learning Partner, an adult staff member to act as a type of chaperone, while Carson was the trip leader.
“I think Carson thought I would be a good fit for the trip because I am studying to be a nutritional therapist and I’m very passionate about locally grown food and locally raised meat as well as sustainably harvested/grown food,” Kristin said. “Getting away from processed food, that is not good for your health, and back to natural real foods is exciting for me. Being able to go see things like an eggplant growing on a vine makes me feel more connected to the foods in a way that I hadn’t before experienced before.”
The farm raises a wide variety of organic vegetables for sale to the public through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. A program in which you can participate in one of two ways. You can join the “Work Share,” where workers “pay” for their share of the weeks harvest by putting in labor or by purchasing a membership that allows you to come pick up your share of the weeks harvest from mid-May to mid-November for a fee.
“On Saturday, we got up, went to the farm and were separated into two groups. One group was assigned to harvest peppers and eggplants while the other group picked turnips,” Kristin said, “After lunch we washed the turnips that half of the group had picked earlier. We helped sort which ones were nice enough looking to sell and put all of the rest in a bin to be given away for free.”
For 20 years Clagett Farm has provided free and reduced-price, fresh produce to people living in poverty and near-poverty in Washington, D.C. The project, a collaboration with Capital Area Food Bank, blends local, sustainable organic agriculture with social justice.
“Prior to this trip I had never done anything related to farming. So I learned the basics of how vegetables grow and discovered that people who are below the poverty line can become a part of farms like this and get fresh food, which is a great program,” Carson said.
After a long weekend they left with sore backs and a new appreciation for sustainable farming.
“I think it’s important for students to get a better understanding of where their food comes from, especially since they are college students and may think that their food just comes from D-Hall,” Kristin said. “I think service learning trips in general are really great to open students' eyes up to places that they have never been before and new experiences.”
A shorter weekend trip opens up service opportunities to many who cannot participate in the longer Winter or Spring Break trips.
By Megan Martin ('11)
Stephen Lambert, a Ph.D. student in the School of Strategic Leadership Studies, is currently working on a dissertation about immigrants with professional credentials, a topic with which he has become very familiar from years of teaching English as a second language courses in Harrisonburg.
About Lambert’s dissertation
Virginia is home to over 285,000 internationally trained professionals (ITPs), many of whom are forced into jobs they are overqualified for based on their licensures and degrees from foreign places.
Stephen Lambert, a Ph.D. student in the School of Strategic Leadership Studies (SSLS), has had the opportunity to meet many of these immigrants from teaching English as a second language (ESL) courses in Memorial Hall. After hearing too many stories of underemployed immigrants with professional training, Lambert decided something needed to be done to change the way society treats ITPs--so he is writing his dissertation on this group of individuals and the ways Virginia, as well as other locations worldwide, can better integrate them into society.
While there is some literature discussing different aspects of the lives of ITPs and that, on average, 30% of the individuals are un- or under-employed, Lambert is interested in creating new knowledge on the subject that will lead to systemic changes.
“The wonderful thing about a Ph.D. and becoming a researcher is that your knowledge becomes public property,” said Lambert. “You are to publish and present at conferences, and I have done those things…I have a drive to continue to do those things.”
Lambert’s research is framed through the lens of new vocabulary. In his dissertation, Lambert examines how “activist entrepreneurs,”individuals who sense a perceived necessity, respond to the issue of ITPs in Virginia.
“[Perceived necessity] is something in the heart or the mind where you perceive an injustice and there is some kind of disequilibrium that is so strong in you that it forces you to act,” said Lambert. “When I had ITPs coming to me as their ESL teacher saying they have a master’s degree in law and people are telling them to get a GED, I sensed an undeniable need to help them because it was social injustice.”
According to Lambert, the decentralized credentialing and licensing policies in the U.S. were created with good intentions, but have seen very adverse effects. While the policies are created within the context of a certain geographical context, many are realizing now that those contexts are far too narrow, and perhaps someone with a license on a certain topic in one location is qualified in different locations as well.
“If we could have policies in place where we could better understand a European degree compared to an American, Canadian, or Mexican degree, “said Lambert, “then we could have a more fluid transfer of that intellectual capital that humans move from one place to another.”
Some communities are working on the current services provided to ITPs, although many still have work to do. Federal grants allow for ESL classes for immigrants, but the law says that the instructors can only teach up to an intermediate level of English.
“In the modern economy, that level of English is not getting ITPs into jobs,” said Lambert. “We need more advanced English training that is thematically and contextually organized so that they are learning English through the context of our cultural values as well as the potential career fields they may want to enter.”
Fortunately, there are some programs that help facilitate and mentor immigrants. Training Futures in Arlington, Virginia teaches the underemployed “soft skills” that employers look for, such as how to give a proper handshake and confidence in public speaking. The individuals are also taught how to market their skills and seek employment that they are suited for based on their training. Many of the immigrants in the program are ITPs.
According to the census, Harrisonburg has 1,734 immigrant professionals, yet many of the students in Lambert’s ESL classes worked in food or hospitality services rather than in their fields of training.
“If you think about everything that they could contribute to the local economy: their innovation, their skills, both multi-lingual and cultural,” said Lambert. “That’s huge. That impacts our education, economy, prosperity, and our mutual understanding of each other as well. They’re here, they’re documented, and we need to enable them to become fully engaged citizens.”
About Lambert and his strides toward improving society
Lambert has done extensive work with immigrants in the area. After receiving his undergraduate degree from JMU, Lambert taught high school Spanish. At the same time, he received a graduate degree in second language acquisition, received ESL endorsement, and earned certification in school administration, all of which came from JMU. While earning his certifications, Lambert also taught part-time at Bridgewater College and Bridgewater Community College. In 2007, the JMU College of Education invited him to teach an adult ESL program in Memorial Hall. This full-time position lasted six years. Then, in 2010, Lambert began his Ph.D. program in SSLS at JMU to earn a degree in nonprofit and community leadership.
In addition to meeting many of the ITPs in the area and doing extensive research on the issue, Lambert put together the Immigrant Professionals Community Coalition (IPCC), which helps legal, educated immigrants develop the skills necessary to succeed to their full career potential in the Rockingham County area. The coalition fights “brain waste” by providing ITPs with career advisement, English language training, engagement with the community, credential evaluation, and specialized training.
“It touches lives in so many ways and impacts behaviors because when you have deep descriptions, statistics, and influential information, sincere people across the globe are always interested in that knowledge,” said Lambert.
The connection between JMU and the community
SSLS, which is funded by the College of Business, is very innovative and interdisciplinary. It is necessary to forge strong connections between businesses, communities, and government in order to collaborate—a framework that has inspired Lambert to innovate in terms of activist entrepreneurship.
“CoB has empowered me to be a social innovator and to reach out across sectors to combine different pieces of knowledge in a new way and see the new way that is and will facilitate regional, cross-regional, national, and even cross-national dialogue of how we deal with the tough issues of the century, a lot of which are social issues,” said Lambert.
As many businesses are adding social aspects to their missions, it is evident that innovating a new society is a priority right now. SSLS, being as interdisciplinary as it is, is in a position to create new solutions for some of the most difficult problems in society today. Lambert believes the community-oriented perspective of CoB and SSLS can be found across campus and shared with the community.
“There’s something beautiful inside of JMU’s mission to prepare truly engaged and intelligent citizens and the nonprofit sector that is all about developing human beings and thriving communities,” said Lambert. “You put those two together and you can’t help but have this beautiful and productive dynamic in which true humans are involved.”
By Alix Carlin (Communication studies, ’14)
Group of students paint the Spirit Rock for DAW 2012.
by Tyler Rich and Troy Fultz
A rock by any other name would appear as dull as it is hard. However, the JMU Spirit Rock is not just any rock. Unveiled in 2011 on the Festival Lawn, the JMU Spirit Rock has come to be known as an endearing symbol of all that is great about JMU. It's frequently painted in loud and vibrant colors and is a place where people and organizations can converge to spread their messages and inform others of important things going on around campus.
The Office of Disability Services is no different. We love the rock and what it represents, which is why our office will be kicking off our fantastic week of events by decorating the Spirit Rock! Each year before Disability Awareness Week, we meet up and paint the rock in our week's colors. All are welcome to join in as we try to splatter, cover, and celebrate through paint our enthusiasm for Disability Awareness Week! No artistic ability necessary, just an enthusiasm for equality.
Be sure to join us on Friday, March 21st, from 4-5 pm. You'll meet new people, make a mess, and help spread the word through a unique opportunity!
When you first meet Emily Jolly and Martie Theron you’d assume that they’d been friends for years. From their inside jokes to the way they sarcastically poke fun at each other these two are the picture of college friends, which makes it hard to believe that they met only a short week prior to our interview.
In reality, Martie lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa over 8,000 miles away from Emily’s home here at JMU. Emily, an RA in White Hall, was selected to be a host for the First Years Leadership for Change program that brought Martie and seven of her fellow students from the University of the Free State (UFS) to America.
“I’ve always been interested in different cultural opportunities at JMU so I saw this program as a chance to learn more about another culture without having to be completely immersed in it,” Emily said. “I’m from a pretty conservative small town in Virginia so coming to JMU really opened my eyes to other cultures. When I learned about this opportunity only open to RAs I thought ‘why not apply for it.’”
While the selection process for Emily was fairly short, Martie had a lot more preparation and work to do in order to be selected.
“As a first year you apply to a leadership program, that is quite hard to get into, only 140 are selected out of close to 5,000 first year applicants,” said Martie. “First you are interviewed based on your merits your first year at the university, then you have to do a presentation on the programs three main topics: leadership, citizenship and diversity. Once you complete that, you are assigned a school to travel to, and I’m so glad I got JMU.”
Before she could travel to the U.S. Martie had to attend seminars focusing on ethnical diversity, ethical reasoning, leadership and what citizenship means. She also had to attend lectures that reviewed differences in education systems and government, knowledge that better prepared her for her 15-day trip.
Beyond noting that students at JMU sleep pretty late, 9 am being late in her eyes, and eating her first tater tot in D-Hall, Martie noticed other large differences between the universities.
“At my university we live in our residences for four years. You choose the residence you want to live in and they choose you, it’s a mutual thing, so you have so much residence pride. At JMU, everyone comes to JMU because of JMU, not because of Hanson or White,” Martie said. “At JMU everyone wears JMU stuff, at home we wear stuff for our residence not UFS. The first UFS labeled shirt I got is actually the one we got for this trip.”
The school pride she has seen in JMU students is one thing she hopes to take back to UFS.
Martie also pointed out another large difference that she and the other UFS students have noticed around campus. During their stay the students are encouraged to discuss these difference with each other and with their hosts in hopes of bettering both sides.
“The students do a lot for the students here. JMU has a lot of student clubs and associations. At UFS it’s difficult, you have to go through a lot of channels to organize something. Here, everyone is willing to work with you and you have a lot of resources so it seems easier and more accessible,” she said.
JMU’s BeInvolved website lists over 320 groups in the Organization Directory, a number that all JMU students should be proud of. These organizations provide students with a variety of options to fit their individual interests, and if you can’t find something that fits your interests you are encouraged to develop your own.
The best advice Martie has for other students who are participating in an exchange or study abroad program is to “keep an open mind. Learn as much as you can, take in as much as you can and give what you know. I can learn so much from you but I really want to teach you stuff as well,” she said.
While she doesn’t have any concrete plans yet, Martie definitely wants to return to JMU again, maybe even as a grad student next time. “The people here are so friendly. Everything here is just awesome, there is WiFi on campus. My life is easy here, everything is accessible.” We have undoubtedly sent one more student home bleeding purple with a new friend that bleeds the same.
By Megan Martin ('11)
Working for any company for five years is something to be proud of, but finishing five years of employment as a student is a huge accomplishment.
Annamarie Frost, a Master's of Arts in Teaching student, has held a number of student positions in the Office of Residence Life. She began her ORL career as a freshman on Shenandoah Hall's Community Activities Board (CAB). She became a more permanent member of the staff as a Resident Adviser in Weaver, continuing on to be a Hall Director in White, Dingledine, and finally in Rockingham as a Graduate HD this year.
"I knew I wanted to participate in a lot of things in college, being an out of state student is a big financial commitment and takes you far from home so I wanted to find a good safe way to meet people," she said. "In my CAB Secretary/Treasure position I had to meet with Rosie in the ORL office and that exposed me to the office early on. She mentioned that I would be a great RA, so I applied for the job."
Annamarie got the position and with support from the ORL staff she decided to apply to be a Hall Director her junior year. The Hall Director application process includes submitting a formal application, 3 references, and completing 3 separate interviews.
"The application process can be a lot of work, especially for an undergrad because the process starts so early. It takes a ton of planning to get recommendation letters together and to learn how to interview," she said. "I feel like this office conditioned me for the interviews that I have coming for teaching positions."
Being a Hall Director isn't just about designing bulletin boards and planning hall events, there are parts of the job that are a lot less enjoyable for many, like addressing violations and assigning appropriate disciplinary actions. Despite her initial feelings of guilt, Annamarie has learned that the best and worst parts of her job are often the same.
"I have never liked confronting situations but I know how important it is in my position. To this day after I have to address something I still feel that little twinge of guilt" she said. "In the end, the most rewarding part of this job is seeing some of your troublemakers, and I have definitely had a few, who really start the year in a bad place, go on to make life changes and get on the right track. So my least favorite thing ends up turning into the best."
One of the most important roles of an RA/HD is to serve as an outlet for students to seek help and advice. Annamarie makes a point to reassure her RAs and the students living in her buildings that she truly cares about their well-being and success.
"I think the biggest piece of advice I can give to students living on campus is to not feel like your RA and HD are 1) unapproachable and 2) out to get you, because that is not in our job description. Our job is to help you and to help you grow, that may involve confronting a negative behavior but we are so focused on learning that sometimes when you have to do that you learn about another side of you. Don't think that we are scary and that we live in a room alone and only come out when we know that you're doing something wrong. We want to get to know you not just get you in trouble. Everyone who applies for this job will say 'I want to do this job because I want to help people, not because I want to get them in trouble.'"
Annamarie will graduate in May with a Master's of Arts in Teaching and plans to teach 2nd or 4th grade next year, fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. While she's not exactly sure where she may end up geographically, she knows that she can always call JMU and the Office of Residence Life home.
To learn more about how to become an ORL student staff member click here.
By Megan Martin ('11)
New York, Massachusetts, DC, Charlottesville, Hawaii, Washington, Germany and now Harrisonburg have all been home at some point to Deena Agamy, a junior psychology and political science double major. Technically an international student, Deena has made a new home at JMU despite the fact that her parents are over 4,000 miles away in Germany.
Unlike many JMU students, Deena found JMU completely by accident. While applying online for Washington State University, she realized the two schools had the same application platform and easily applied for both with one click. She knew she loved Virginia from living here for a period as a child and after some research online she fell in love with JMU and its campus.
After being accepted and packing everything she thought she’d need for her first semester into three suitcases, she made the transatlantic trip with her parents. When she finally arrived at JMU she knew absolutely no one, so she had to start from scratch.
Deena immersed herself in activities on campus by joining the Marching and Pep Bands, as well as becoming the President of To Write Love on Her Arms, a National Organization that focuses on spreading hope and a sense of community to anyone who suffers with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
While searching on Joblink for work on campus, Deena came across a posting for RA positions and applied. After learning more about the job and completing the interview process, she knew she had found the perfect fit.
“My entire experience would have been completely different if I hadn’t gotten involved on campus in my first year.” Deena now uses that knowledge to help get her residents involved with something they are interested in.
Deena knows how important it is to find people and places that make you feel comfortable if you are going to succeed. It turns out that becoming an RA is just one more way Deena built her JMU community.
“Residence Life is a really great community,” she said. “I had no idea how much I would get to know all the other RAs and how much I would connect with them through this job.”
An RAs main job is to create positive communities on campus. They achieve this by making sure residents are safe, which includes following and enforcing residence hall policies.
“I’ve managed to get some of my residents to realize that I’m not just out to get them and that I’m not a mean person,” she said. “I try to tell them to think of me more as an older sibling opposed to their mothers. I’m a disciplinarian but at the same time still able to have a friendly relationship with them.”
A lot of what she has learned as an RA can also be applied to other aspects of her life, for instance the important of respect and being present in anything you do.
“I feel like if I wasn’t present in my building or if I didn’t treat my residents with respect, then they would treat me the same negative way,” she said. “The communities we have in our halls are as easy to ruin as they are to build. If you put yourself out there and give your residents a piece of you, they will give a little of themselves right back.”
Building a community and a home thousands of miles from her family seems to have come easily to Deena once she started putting herself out there. She’s not only a great RA, and soon to be Hall Director, but also a wonderful example for any freshman that is looking for their place at JMU.
By Megan Martin ('11)
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:30 PM - 2:00 PMLocation: Rose Library 5211; lunch will be provided at noon.Roundtable
The third in a series of roundtables on developmental teaching and student learning, this discussion is designed to build awareness of the state of mental health for college students. In partnership with the CFI, the Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) will engage participants in informed, reflective dialogue designed to explore mental health issues on university campuses and specific concerns associated with the JMU student population. Faculty and staff will be invited to share their perspectives; facilitators will also provide information about services provided at the CSDC in an attempt to address students' needs and concerns.
This roundtable is designed for faculty to make progress towards the following outcomes:
- Increase awareness of the state of mental health for college students in general and at JMU;
- Gain knowledge about student concerns from the perspectives of faculty members and CSDC staff;
- Learn about services offered at the CSDC for students; and
- Learn about how to use the CSDC as a resource.
Selected remarks from the Keynote Address by Jan Lodal
By Jan Gillis
During the Clinton Administration, Jan Lodal, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, was a key participant in U.S. decision-making. In his keynote address for the conference, Intelligence and the Transition from War to Peace, Lodal provided a senior official's perspective on the Bosnian Conflict.
'We are much more likely to resolve these conflicts if early on we understand the environment and culture we are operating in. '
"The Dayton Accords were much more than a cease fire," said Lodal. "Dayton created a governmental structure that has lasted for nearly 20 years and given the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina the absence of war, and because of that, a chance to return to their homes with a hope for a place in a prosperous democratic multi-ethnic, tolerant Europe."
Lessons of Bosnia
Lodal noted the Bosnia experience was distinguished by ethnic and sectarian struggles combined with a history of colonial rule that left warring factions inside artificial national boundaries, which impeded the establishment of stable self-governance. "These characteristics contrast with wars between established states or wars of conquest. The lessons of Bosnia, Lodal said, "are much more likely to apply to future conflicts of this nature rather than what one might call "traditional" wars between established states."
'Like it or not, peace after war requires nation building.'
Lodal acknowledged that "the aftermath in Bosnia has been rough indeed. ... Like it or not, peace after war requires nation building. When we've gotten it right --Germany, Japan, and Bosnia--we've enjoyed the fruits of our efforts. But when the international community abjures its role, we pay a very heavy price." Since the type of conflict in Bosnia and other such states are more difficult to resolve, Lodal pointed to the need for the U.S. to "get commitment early on from our own political system to carry through on all the aspects of what needs to be done to achieve a durable peace. There is no way to do that perfectly. While there will be bumps in the road, we can do a much better job than we have in the past."
Responding to a question about lessons to be learned from Bosnia posed by Laura Walters, a JMU student and representative of the Public Affairs Student Organization, Lodal encouraged better cross-cultural education. "Perhaps the most important is that we are much more likely to resolve these conflicts if early on we understand the environment and culture we are operating in. Personally, I believe it will never be possible for the intelligence community to handle this task by itself. The best hope is a better integration of our intelligence analysts, and even our collection methods, with universities and think tanks. [Within] the United States academic community ... every culture and every language is understood along with the history, politics and diplomatic challenges of every nation. There is so much more expertise collectively in these institutions than the intelligence community could ever afford. ... Some of that has begun with programs that you have here at James Madison University. This conference can help lead the way to further cooperation.
Enduring Challenges for Presidents and Citizens
By Martha Graham
In opening the conference, Intelligence and the Transition from War to Peace, James Madison University President Jonathan R. Alger lauded the event as: "the sort of convening that ... should take place as often as possible on this campus named for the fourth U.S. President....Exposing our students to such accomplished practitioners-scholars is a hallmark here at Madison."
'With the benefit of hindsight, I firmly believe that understanding the debates and decisions of the past can give us deeper and richer perspectives on the present and the future.'
In his remarks, "Navigating from War to Peace: Enduring challenges for Presidents and Citizens," Alger set the tone for the conference that will explore the decision making process with the luxury of hindsight. But, he said: "We are not here to issue proclamations from the academy's ivory tower. Instead, we are here to investigate and understand recent global events by analyzing the actual documents used by decision-makers to steer those events. This is real. Such engaged learning—especially at the undergraduate level—is the direction in which I believe we must head in higher education."
'Such engaged learning--especially at the undergraduate level--is the direction in which I believe we must head in higher education.'
Alger traced the parallel challenges and decisions that both Presidents Madison and Clinton faced, respectively, during the War of 1812 and the Bosnian Crisis of the 1990s. He noted how both men's attitude about war evolved when confronted by the realities of conflict and by the accumulation of knowledge and understanding. He cited President Madison's development of the notion of a "just war" as one product of considered reasoning.
Madison's brand of developed thinking is what Alger hopes the conference will inspire, he said, in particular the kind of ethical reasoning that ponders diverse points of view both nationally and internationally. He challenged the conference attendees "to understand how ethical reasoning might have led decision-makers to act in the Bosnian conflict as you listen to presentations."
Opening Staff Address
Wilson Hall Auditorium
August 16, 2013
President Alger praised the university staff for their contributions to the sense of community and family at James Madison University.
Good morning, everyone. We are thrilled to have all of you here. I hope you're ready because the academic year is quickly approaching. I hope you got a sense from the video we just watched of some of the things that you all know are true about this university—particularly the sense of community and family here at James Madison University. We care about each other and we try to help everyone succeed at JMU. I think the video really captured the personal side of the university as well as the educational process.
I think you all know that I'm now starting my second year at JMU with all of you. I want to emphasize that we do want you to work hard, but we also want you to have fun here. That's part of the magic at JMU. There was an event not too long ago where people had the opportunity to write three words on a streamer that described their JMU experience. After a year here, I wanted to share this as one of my sentiments: "JMU is home." And that's how we want it to feel for all of you—like home.
I've discovered more and more this past year, both through the listening tour and my own travels, about the growing national and international reputation of James Madison University. We have an increasing presence around the country and around the world. We made trips this summer to three of our study abroad programs in Spain, Italy and London. We had the opportunity to see JMU in action overseas and the impact our Study Abroad programs have on our students. We also visited one of our programs in Los Angeles where some of our students are studying film and media. We had a chance to witness what tremendous opportunities we provide all around the country and the world. I know all of you are a part of creating that educational environment both on campus and off campus for our students.
This is an institution that is about changing lives, as I think all of you know. Now that I am reflecting on the listening tour from this past year, we have to continue deciding where to go from here as a university. Why Madison? What makes this a special place to learn, to live and to work? We turned a page after this year as we started to get more and more tremendous answers from everybody to that question. We now have a lot of those answers, but it doesn't mean we're going to stop listening.
I can tell you that the No. 1 theme on the listening tours that came through loud and clear, both on campus and off campus, was the importance of personal relationships. Over and over again people talked about the personal touch, the spirit of teamwork and collaboration. Students talked about faculty and staff members who'd made a difference in their lives. Years later they remember and are thankful for all of your work. People and relationships are hallmarks here at JMU. Another theme that I heard repeatedly from alumni was the genuine hospitality here on campus. Students learn better in an environment where they feel valued, respected and known. That spirit of hospitality—that "opening doors" policy I know all of you are a part of--is really an important part of who we are, and it doesn't exist at every other university. I've been to a lot of other campuses where if you say hello to somebody on the sidewalk whom you've never met, they look for their wallet and wonder, "what do they want?" That is not the case here at JMU.
One of the times I was most impressed with your hospitality was during Madison Week in March. It was a tremendous team effort across the entire university. We had a lot of events, and many of you participated and prepared for those events across the university and in the community. We heard from guests from all around the country about how impressed they were with all of you and the effort you put in.
The listening tour has helped to set us up for this year as well as the next big stage of our planning—the strategic planning process that is going to take us forward from 2014 to 2020. Many of you know that the Madison Future Commission has been hard at work to help us think about all different aspects of life at the university and how we can plan for these next six years and beyond. The Madison Future Commission is helping us build on the momentum we have and to dream big for our future. They've been incredibly enthusiastic. They have had a lot of great ideas and they'll be bringing their report to the Board of Visitors this fall. We hope and expect that the plan will be adopted and that it will be in place for 2014 to 2020 and beyond. The listening tour feedback has been shared with the Madison Future Commission so that all of the great ideas you've submitted during the year are being shared with that group and helping us with our planning. I hope you'll see evidence of that as we go forward. It is an exciting time.
Our mission as a university, which is the basis for the rest of the strategic plan, has not changed. The mission statement says that we're a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives. Those are important words. "Citizens," implying that you have responsibilities beyond yourself, that you're part of a larger community, and that it's not just about you, but about all of us. It implies that we are all interconnected, and that's really what our mission is about and what we want to help our students realize as they are here. The working draft of our vision is for us to be the national model for what I call the "Engaged University." I consider this to be the opposite of an isolated, ivory tower. What does that mean? It means that we're engaged with ideas in the classroom, but also engaged with the world outside the classroom. It means that we take those ideas and knowledge and apply them to real world problems and challenges. That is a core part of what we do as an educational institution. We want people to use their education to make a difference in the world and to understand that it's a great privilege and a great responsibility to have such an education.
It starts with a great liberal arts background, which is why we have General Education. As I've traveled this past year on the listening tour, I've heard time and time again from alumni who have said, "Back when I was taking General Education classes, I wasn't so sure about them. Why did I have to take a course over here or over there that wasn't in my major?" But they then realized how those critical thinking skills, those communication skills, and the ability to see things from different perspectives were so valuable later in their lives and throughout their careers. Employers also tell us that those are key skills and attributes they're looking for in their employees. The liberal arts foundation is a key part of what we do and it's important that we recognize its continuing importance in the 21st century. At a time when everybody is so concerned about that first job, we are also trying to prepare people for a lifetime of learning. That is what a liberal arts core is all about.
Engaged learning also has many other elements to it. When we think about engagement with people and the world around us, it includes things like undergraduate research and creative performances. Teamwork, leadership and interpersonal skills are taught both in the classroom and outside of it through student organizations and other forms of involvement. Internships are also a very important part of what we offer. Intergenerational collaborations, through which students can interact and learn from alumni, are very valuable and something that we want to encourage more of. There is also service-learning, as well as international and travel experiences of all kinds. I hope that all of us will have chances to not just participate in the JMU Experience on campus, but to see the impact that we're having all around the country and the world. These are all elements of what it means to be an Engaged University—engaged with ideas, but also engaged with the world. Another thing I repeatedly heard on the listening tour is that JMU is an interesting place. We don't just talk about preparation for careers, but we talk a lot about public service, as well as community and civic engagement. Our students, faculty and staff take them very seriously. I've been working with our colleagues at Montpelier to strengthen the relationship between our university and our namesake's life and ideas. I also visited with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this summer to talk about our relationship with them. I wanted to think about, "What does it mean to be an engaged citizen in the 21st Century? What are our rights and what are our responsibilities that we have in a community as engaged citizens?" You are going to hear more about that idea of public service and citizenship as we go forward.
I got a real taste of our sense of community service when I witnessed lots of you in action all around the city, the county and the region this past year. For example, we had the Big Event in April, which I know many of you participated in. Over 700 people engaged in 42 local service projects. We also had a day of service during Madison Week and lots of other occasions throughout the year. I know that a lot of you are volunteering your time to make the community a better place and that is important. We want our community to understand that James Madison University wants to be a good neighbor, a good partner, and part of the solution to the challenges that we face all around us. I want to thank all of you who participate in community service. And for those of you who'd like to participate more, talk to almost anybody in this room and they can give you ideas of how to get involved in the community.
As we think about citizenship and our roles as citizens going forward, another exciting thing we're unveiling is the "Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action." This initiative encourages us as an institution to talk about ethical reasoning in students' professional, personal, and civic lives. We're going to jumpstart it at JMU's upcoming 1787 Orientation by unveiling this new initiative to all of our new first year and transfer students. But, I hope it's also something that all of us can participate in, so be thinking about how you can get involved in that conversation.
I am also pleased to officially announce the leadership for this exciting new initiative. After a competitive national search, Dr. Bill Hawk has been selected as the chair. Dr. Lori Pyle will be assisting him as the associate chair. I want to thank both individuals for their leadership. We are very excited to have them here. We know it's going to be a busy time, but I believe this idea of thinking about ethics and ethical reasoning is going to be a real signature for the university as we go forward.
We have over 4,000 incoming freshmen who will be participating in their orientation with us very soon. The part of their orientation that will be focused on ethical reasoning is named "It's Complicated." When you see that phrase around campus, whether on t-shirts or other places, you will recognize the phrase in relation to our Ethical Reasoning in Action initiative—that it's complicated to think about ethics and ethical reasoning, but that it's important for our students to have those skills. Thank you to all of you who volunteered to be facilitators for those sessions. We had over 150 volunteers for 130 slots, so that's a terrific reflection of your teamwork and your commitment to this institution. That initiative, by the way, came out of our 10-year SACS review, which is the accreditation review that the university goes through every 10 years. We had a site visit this past spring and the visiting team gushed about JMU. They had zero recommendations as part of the process by the time they were finished, which is extremely unusual for one of these visits. We were thrilled with the outcome. It reflected a lot of hard work across the university and it shows the quality of education that we provide.
I also want to talk a little bit about compensation, the budget and enrollment as we go forward. I think all of you know that one of our big challenges when I first came into office last year was addressing compensation issues. And believe me, I was very excited in June to hit that send button as soon as we got final board approval to get across-the-board salary increases for the first time since 2007. That was a very exciting moment for us. We were very grateful that we had support in Richmond, that people understood our message, and that the budget folks here at JMU worked really hard to push those increases. Not to mention that these were on top of the bonuses that we had also already had in the past eighteen months. We made some significant progress. And while we know there's much more work to be done, we wanted to send the message that we value our people as our top and most important resource. I hope people have felt that this message rang loud and clear and that it will continue to be the message as we work on these issues.
Compensation is still a top priority in our six-year plan that we'll be presenting later this month to the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia. We'll continue to talk to legislators about this topic and the need to invest in their people in higher education. I believe it's the best investment our state can make for its future. I also want to acknowledge the Compensation Task Force; we had a lot faculty and staff who helped us to look at these issues and came up with a lot of good recommendations—not just about salaries, but a much broader set of issues to be thinking about when we think about your life here at work. We're going to be appointing a Compensation Advisory Committee to continue this work as was recommended to us. And, more importantly, to take a comprehensive look at how we can be a great place to work. We want to focus on work-life balance issues as well, where we can be a real leader. I hope some of you enjoyed the summer work hours this summer. It was something of an experiment, but we'd heard from a lot of people that they thought it would be possible. We will be surveying the staff after the end of this summer because we do want to get your feedback on that. If you have any ideas for tweaks or what we can do to improve, we would like to hear from you. Thank you for your participation and for your flexibility in that regard.
We also want to continue working on issues such as professional development and training. You should know that JMU is a real leader in that regard—investing in its people in terms of training and professional development. I am so impressed with the leadership programs we have here, like the IMPACT3 program, for example, in which many of you have participated. It's a real strength for us and one that I want to continue as we go forward. I want to make sure we can celebrate the accomplishments of our people and recognize each other in various ways. If you have thoughts about that, I would love to hear them. I know the EAC would like to hear them as well.
Speaking of the budget, I have some good news to report on the fundraising front. Let me just share a couple of numbers with you. The number of alumni donors over this past year went up by almost 10 percent in one year. In terms of the annual giving—and this is a phenomenal number—we had a 59 percent increase in the amount of new commitments, which was just shy of 13 million dollars. Now, no pressure, but I think a 59 percent increase would be good every year. I do want to especially acknowledge all of you who participated in the Employee Giving Campaign. It speaks volumes about the kind of place this is that so many of you would participate in this campaign, particularly in tough economic times, and we fully recognize how hard it is with all the challenges that we face. I know we can get that number even higher as we go forward. We are, by the way, making plans for a next comprehensive campaign that will coordinate with our strategic planning. You'll be hearing more about that as we go forward. We are not going to rest on our laurels by any means; we know we have a lot of work to do to develop a culture of philanthropy, and to convey that achieving our hopes and dreams requires a lot of resources.
Here is another quick update in terms of this coming year. I wanted to share information with you regarding the incoming freshman class and our fall enrollment. We expect to have a record enrollment again this year—slightly over twenty thousand. The incoming freshman class alone represents 29 states and the District of Columbia. They come from 30 different countries. In terms of the top female names in our incoming class, the No. 1 female name is variations of Sarah, No. 2 is Emily and No. 3 is variations of Catherine. Now, on the male side of the equation, No. 1 is... anyone care to guess? It's John or Jonathan. I'd like to think that's not just a coincidence! No. 2 is Matthew and No. 3 is Ryan. The majors they are interested in are notable as well: No. 1 is Biology; No. 2 is nursing; No. 3 is health sciences; No. 4 is marketing; No. 5 is IDLS. Then we have management, psychology, accounting, finance and No. 10 is media arts and design. This may give you a sense of how things are changing at the university. It's a very different list than you might have seen 20 or 30 years ago.
On the academic side, we have many highlights. The new 2012-2013 Annual Accomplishments Report has just been completed, and I hope you'll all take a look at that. The state has top jobs legislation, as you've probably heard about, to prepare students for the 21st century. Here at JMU we've been very responsive to the state's needs. Over the last five years, we've increased the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates by 65 percent and the number of health graduates by 33 percent. Those are big numbers that show we are preparing students for the economy of the 21st century. You may also know that Student Affairs has been hard at work all summer preparing for our incoming students. We have a program that is recognized all across the country as one of the very best with tremendous leadership from Dr. Warner and his colleagues. Residence Life has now implemented online room and roommate selection. They've created a Res Life app for iTunes and Android that allows students and families to have a virtual 3-D tour of their residence hall. So be on the lookout for the latest and greatest from Student Affairs.
Now, just a couple quick words about facilities and construction updates. Renovations are continuing at Montpelier and Madison Hall. These buildings will have more than 250,000 square feet of space and will serve as a leading center for student health and success as well as behavioral studies programs, among other things. We are excited about the reuse of that old hospital facility. Duke Hall, as you all know, is being renovated at the corner of Grace and Main streets. That's on schedule for substantial completion late this year and that renovation and addition will include sorely needed space for the visual and fine arts. We are excited to have Duke Hall right across from the Forbes Center. You may have noticed, speaking of the Forbes Center, that a median has gone up. We are always trying to increase safety here. We have seen a lot of people crossing the street in the wrong place and creating issues for traffic. So, please don't climb over that fence, but go around and through the tunnel.
We also have a housing project on Grace Street coming up that will house 500 students. It is slated to open in August of 2014, so be on the lookout for that additional residential space. In addition, we're bringing together several community-based programs that will be located in the Ice House, a building in downtown Harrisonburg, to underscore our relationship with our community. That building is still under renovation and we'll have more announcements about that as we get a little bit later into the fall.
UREC will be experiencing some changes as well. Listen to these numbers: UREC's daily visits have increased nearly 100 percent since 1996 and sports club participation has increased by 200 percent. Last year alone, UREC recorded 550,298 visits. So our facilities need to reflect this increased usage. We want to encourage health and wellness education, which is a big challenge in our society. UREC plays an important role in that, so renovations are currently in the design stage to accommodate more visits. University Park, which opened last year, has been very well used already. University Park is another part of the equation, so work will continue there over the coming year. The Convocation Center will also undergo changes in the near future. We don't have a timetable just yet, but we know that the building is approaching the end of its useful life and is going to have to be replaced. In the meantime, our teams had a pretty good year and we're hoping for more this coming year in basketball and other sports.
As we close, I hope you remember that this is a family; this is your JMU family and we're all a part of it. As you think about this coming year, I hope you can reflect on the fact that our people are the most important resource we have. It's all about you. You're the ones that are making a profound difference in the lives of our students and of your colleagues around you. What I urge all of the incoming students and their families to do is what I also want to urge all of us to do as we go forward. Dream big about our hopes and possibilities for this coming year. We dream big. Let's dream big together and have a great year. Thank you all so much for coming.
“James Madison didn’t just embody compromise,” Kat Imhoff said. “He built it into our system of governance.”
In the fourth installment of JMU’s Madison Vision Series: Contemporary Issues in an Engaged Society, Kat Imhoff, president and CEO of The Montpelier Foundation, shared with the JMU community why the Father of the Constitution—and his former home—are still incredibly relevant and important today.
Despite his passing in 1836, Madison’s name continues to pop up in today’s current events. Just this past year, Imhoff recalled news articles on the government shutdown or Syria in which journalists posed the question, “What would James Madison think? What would he do?”
As Imhoff explained, Madison was, of course, a go-to intellect in politics from the very beginning. When President George Washington was elected to office, he called on Madison to write his inauguration address. Not knowing he’d been the author, Congress subsequently asked Madison to craft an eloquent response to the inauguration speech he himself had ghostwritten for Washington. Laughing at the situation’s irony, Imhoff pointed to Madison’s complete lack of ego in his political life: he was simply dedicated to the prosperity of democratic government.
One of the reasons that journalists continue to restore Madison’s ideals and revive his spirit is due to his grace in dealing with the “grey areas” of political matter. “For me, the grey is those radical concepts of statesmanship and compromise,” Imhoff explained.
Madison himself exemplified these characteristics. He was a close friend of James Monroe, despite running against him for presidency. He defended individuals’ freedom of consciousness. He composed what has been called “the most powerful defense of religious liberty ever written in America” in writing the document Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments. And, unlike most wartime presidents, Madison did not quiet or interfere with dissenting opinions on and protestors of the War of 1812.
Imhoff explained that a group of intellectual thinkers, including JMU’s own President Jonathan Alger, was created to discuss Madison’s role in civic engagement. Among the topics that arose, three ideas dominated the conversation’s framework: that the stories of our past are critical to our present, that community engagement is deeply personal, and that the most transformational experiences in our history have not been evolutionary, but revolutionary—they come from bold risk takers.
“Madison’s life shows that when we find passion and have the opportunity to make change, we must seize it,” Imhoff asserted. Madison demonstrated “disrupting the present for the sake of the future.”
A look into Madison’s life and former home gives us incredible insight about the past, but also tells us a great deal about the present and future. Returning to the idea of Madison reacting to the government shutdown, or the type of partisan gridlock we see today, Imhoff spoke on his behalf: “Madison would say, ‘Go get elected. Be involved in a campaign. Serving the public should be honorable.’”
“There are now about 317 million people in the United States, compared to roughly 4 million in Madison’s time,” Imhoff reminded the audience. That is 313 million more voices that can be put to democratic use like Madison’s.
Imhoff explained that, in line with JMU’s mission to be an “engaged university,” Madison would want us to, above all, contribute something to society. Students and professors alike can look to James Madison for inspiration. “We should know our democratic DNA,” she added. “One of the first strands is knowing about Madison and his home.”
Ms. Imhoff’s presentation was the fourth of many lectures in the Madison Vision Series. The series is funded by donors to the Madison Vision Fund and sponsored by the JMU Office of the President and JMU Outreach and Engagement’s Madison Institutes.
The next lecture will be held on Wednesday, April 9, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Forbes Center MainStage Theatre. It will feature Former CEO of Hewlett Packard, Republican candidate for Senate from California, and current JMU Board of Visitors Member, Carly Fiorina.
March 19, 2014
By Rosemary Girard (’15)
Recently, Management department head and professor Dr. Scott Gallagher won the 2013 Best Practitioner Paper Award for his article titled, “The Battle of the Blue Laser DVDs: The Significance of Corporate Strategy in Standards Battles.”
The article, published in Technovation, argues that dueling companies should utilize parallel industries to win competitive standards battles. To support his contention, Gallagher studied the battle between Sony’s Blu-ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD for the next generation of DVD players.
After analyzing the product preannouncements, pricing, and availability of complements for both Sony’s Blu-ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD, Gallagher found that Sony won the standards battle over Toshiba thanks to Sony’s corporate strategy which allowed for Blu-ray to be used not only in DVD players, but also in the PS3 game console systems.
While Sony won the battle, research indicates that the price of the win was too high since Blu-ray costs more to manufacture and has generated lower numbers in market revenue compared to HD-DVDs. According to Gallagher, a standards battle forces companies to focus on profits, particularly in cases involving technology that continually evolves. His article warns that if companies do not focus primarily on profits, the cost of winning the battle may be too high to win the industry war—as in the case of Sony’s Blu-Ray.
In response to his findings, Gallagher proposes a heuristic to help companies assess the strengths of indirect network effects in their industry—information that could prove invaluable in a standards battle.
Through his research, Gallagher is opening discussion for managers, practitioners, and scholars about the relation of network effects and parallel industries in market competition.
Gallagher’s full article can be found at:
Gallagher, Scott. 2012. “The Battle of the Blue Laser DVDs: The Significance of Corporate Strategy in Standards Battles.” Technovation. 32: 90 - 98.
JMU students get hands-on opportunities teaching art skills during art nights
By Jen Kulju
An art tradition
"Art nights have been going on at least as long as I've been here," says Martha Yankey, the art teacher at Elkton Elementary School for the past 10 years. Yankey, who graduated with an art degree and minor in education from JMU, made the initial contact with the founder and director of the Art Education Center, Kathy Schwartz.
According to Schwartz, "art nights" officially started at Spotswood Elementary in the fall of 2000. "We built upon the success of the first program and now sponsor at least one art night each semester at one of the area schools." Schwartz adds that Yankey is "one of our supervisors for practicum, and a very important part of our program."
'Art nights were designed to give JMU students practical, hands-on opportunities to share their art teaching skills with children and their families.'
Planting seeds of college
Between 100 and 150 children in kindergarten through fifth grade participated in the Elkton Elementary Art Night in late January. "Art night is usually very well attended," claims Yankey. And that attendance isn't just by students in grades K-5. "The three and four-year-old, younger siblings come to art night. They have fun and get involved, which helps them develop a favorable attitude toward school." Yankey also shares that many middle and high school students who loved art when they were at EES come back for art night because they want to "relive their olden days." Whatever the age, children have the opportunity to "interact with JMU art education students in a positive way," which Yankey believes may help to "plant the seeds" of college in young minds.
Nine art education students and one elementary education student from JMU were on hand for Elkton Elementary Art Night. Graduate student Sarah Brown facilitated the event. Brown graduated from JMU in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in studio art and a licensure in art education. She worked for several years as an elementary art teacher before returning to her alma mater in the fall of 2013 to pursue a master's degree in art education. Brown enjoys facilitating art nights, and stresses the importance of them. "We're here to develop relationships. Anytime you can get children excited about creating things, it's worth it."
JMU students met, talked and worked with children at various art "stations" throughout the evening. Allison Nickens, a junior art education student with a concentration in painting and drawing, drew caricatures while Sarah Florjancic, a studio art/art education major with a concentration in painting and drawing, helped with Valentine's Day crafts. Sophomore Megan Murdock, a graphic design major with a concentration in art education, worked with children to color and create "Humphrey the hamsters," an activity designed to tie in with a book they were reading at EES. Murdock appreciated the chance "to gain experience, but also to give back to the community."
'We're here to develop relationships. Anytime you can get children excited about creating things, it's worth it.'
Experience that "matters most"
Schwartz says art nights were "designed to give JMU students practical, hands-on opportunities to share their art teaching skills with children and their families." According to Brown, events like the Elkton Elementary Art Night are "really what matters most because JMU students get to see and practice how to conduct themselves as professionals, and to interact with the public, real art teachers, and children in local schools."
Other JMU students who participated in art night include Megan Hartsoe, Gwen Jones, Hannah Suh, Melissa Carter, Laura Mertins, Megan Barnes and Caleigh Balsamo. Elkton Elementary Art Night was sponsored by the school's PTA, who donates $500 for supplies every year.
The next art night takes place at Spotswood Elementary during the Harrisonburg City Public Schools Fine Arts Celebration at the end of April. It is called "Imagination Celebration," and JMU art education students will be on hand to work with children and families on artwork to take home.
Learn more about the Madison Experience.
“When we tap into peoples’ values, we can influence them in a positive and powerful way,” says Dr. Laura Leduc, management professor in the College of Business. As a professor of management, Leduc is interested in how values and personality traits relate to performance and motivation in the workplace. She believes that in order to be effective, managers must incorporate an understanding of an individual’s values that goes beyond simply understanding their personality traits.
Leduc recalls, “Before going back to school to get my PhD, I worked as a manager. I was fascinated that I could give employees the same set of instructions and they would do different things. I found it puzzling and fascinating. I wanted to understand that process and figure out individuals and their performance.” This observation led Leduc to research personality traits, achievement values and performance in an academic setting.
According to a general consensus, personality traits are characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behavior; are consistent across all situations and; are based on biology or genetics. Most researchers use the “Big Five” taxonomy to categorize personality into five main traits: conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
It has become popular to use solely personality traits to predict behavior. Many researchers believe that by understanding everything about these five traits, all behaviors can be predicted and explained. But Leduc believes that this approach is inadequate. Values also play an important role in predicting and understanding behavior.
Values, as Leduc explains, are beliefs about what is important. Values have a learned component because they are modeled from parents, culture, teachers and peers. Achievement values provide information about worth in our society. Promotions, raises and any socially recognized accomplishment are achievement values in the workplace. In an academic setting, being a part of a winning sports team is an achievement value that Leduc has found to contribute to an increase student exam scores which goes beyond using only personality traits to predict behavior.
Leduc says the reason that values predict behavior and performance above personality is because values are related to conscious decisions about what goals people pursue, while traits are automatic. She explains that there are two parts to the motivation process: choosing a goal and pursuing a goal. Values influence our choice of goals, and as Leduc explains, once those goals are chosen, personality traits determine how we pursue them. Going further, Leduc emphasizes the importance of knowing that achievement values not only contribute to better performance but that they can change.
She notes, “As a parent, it’s nice to know you can influence your children and instill values, encouraging your children to do better in school. As a professor, it’s good to know students’ values are still changing. You can still have an impact. You can teach values and business ethics in a way that has an impact.
“As a manager, you can hire for personality, but still influence values. The best transformative leaders are able to get people to follow them by tapping into their individual values. People are happier when they behave according to their values.”
These findings were recently published in Applied Psychology: An International Review. Leduc is currently on sabbatical, continuing her research into how personality and values are related.
Every year, James Madison University awards one rising senior the Raymond C. Dingledine, Sr., Leadership Scholarship based on academic excellence and leadership. In 2012, the recipient of this prestigious award was Shelby Wiltz. Wiltz, who is majoring in justice studies, with a concentration in social justice, and minoring in both creative writing and women’s and gender studies, continues to make a remarkable impact at JMU, in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.
Within the JMU community, Wiltz teaches a course on diversity through the JMJ Teach Program; serves as the Educational Coordinator in Madison Equality, JMU’s student lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization; volunteers for JMU’s LGBT & Ally Education Program and; works in the Office of Judicial Affairs as a Civic Learning Program Assistant. Wiltz uses her role as an educator to speak authoritatively, compassionately and effectively about public policy issues that affect marginalized populations in the JMU community and at large.
In the Shenandoah Valley, Wiltz aims to create a more inclusive, just environment through her work as an intern. Wiltz has helped provide a safe, youth-centered, confidential support space for LGBTQ youth through aiding in the creation of the Shenandoah Valley YES! Alliance. In addition, she has used her knowledge and leadership skills in interning for both the Harrisonburg Reentry Council and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute’s 2013 Congressional Internship Program in Washington, DC.
As an intern with the Harrisonburg Reentry Council, which provides assistance on housing, restoration of civil rights, and employment assistance, Wiltz worked alongside local community members, professors, parole officers, attorneys, social services professionals and religious organizations on a committee dedicated to assisting formerly incarcerated individuals in their transition from prison to civilian life.
While involved with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute’s 2013 Congressional Internship Program, Wiltz worked with House of Representatives member Gwen Moore on a variety of policy issues, most notably the reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Wiltz was responsible for assisting congressional staff in conducting research, creating fact sheets, and writing memos leading up the introduction of the bill.
The Raymond C. Dingledine, Sr., Leadership Scholarship was not Wiltz’s only award. In the spring of 2013, she was awarded the JMU Diversity Enhancement Award and the JMU Woman of Distinction Award. Additionally, in the fall of 2013, Wiltz was awarded the Richard L. Schlegel National Legion of Honor Award for Emerging Activist, a national award given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to LGBT communities. In every role Wiltz assumes, she continues to make a difference at JMU and in society.
Megan Rodgers Good, a doctoral student in the Assessment and Measurement program at JMU, is constantly searching for the answer to how classes, research projects, and university centers make a difference in the lives and learning outcomes of JMU students, faculty, and staff.
From her participation on research teams as a master’s student in Psychological Sciences program to her work as a graduate assistant in the Center for Faculty Innovation, Rodgers Good has sought research projects that lend insight into how to evaluate a program’s effectiveness and learning impact. With her eyes to the future, Rodgers Good is now working to build a model that “closes the gap” between program assessment and educators’ use of the results.
Rodgers Good credits JMU’s unique culture of collaboration for enabling her work with an advisor, Dr. Keston Fulcher, to build a research program that she hopes will result in a national model for how to use assessment results. Rodgers Good’s research and passion has emerged through and has been fostered in partnerships between, among others, JMU’s Center for Assessment and Research Studies and the Center for Faculty Innovation. “There is really not another place where this could happen, where such diverse offices are working together to achieve something bigger than they could do alone.”
Working at JMU’s Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI) has played an important role in helping Rodgers Good develop an understanding of how educators make sense of assessment results and has afforded her with opportunities to participate in numerous studies of CFI programming. Recently, The Chronicle of Higher Education cited Rodgers Good’s research on the impact of centers that was done with Dr. Cara Meixner, Assistant Director of the CFI and Assistant Professor of Graduate Psychology.
As the Chronicle tells, Rodgers Good’s and Meixner’s research “found that the center’s [CFI] services resulted in an increased sense of belonging to the institution among faculty members; more-frequent opportunities to engage in metacognition, or thinking about their thinking; and greater confidence in designing courses.” Throughout their work together, Dr. Meixner noted Rodgers Good’s poise and confidence and commented on Rodgers Good’s desire to seek feedback while always thinking critically about other’s perspectives. Meixner recalls “Just after our ‘standing-room only’ co-presentation at a national pedagogy conference, numerous colleagues from other institutions commented to me about how fortunate the CFI is to have [Rodgers Good’s] talent, grace, and intellect.” Meixner could not agree more. She believes that Rodgers Good “Is a rare professional who has created a dual career niche in the assessment and faculty development communities.”
Rodgers Good’s educational path as a future “double-Duke,” has also been characterized by a commitment to mentoring undergraduates in the classroom, in research teams, and on thesis projects. As a member of a research team in the Psychological Sciences, Rodgers Good had the opportunity to take on team leadership roles under the direction of Dr. Michael Stoloff. Rodgers Good’s role of supervisor and mentor to teams of undergraduate students in conducting original research, encouraged some students to stay on the project for as many as three semesters. Interestingly, one research project that surveyed alumni found that students who participated in undergraduate research were more likely to report that JMU enhanced their life.
Given her leadership in graduate and undergraduate research teams as well as her varied experiences across campus in program assessment, it is not surprising that Rodgers Good was invited to participate as the graduate student representative on the Madison Futures Committee. As a member of the academic subcommittee, she contributed to vital conversations about the academic direction of the university. Rodgers Good’s eyes lit up as she described her work on this committee: “It was a really meaningful experience. It felt like we were making a difference.”
When asked to describe her experience at JMU with one word, Rodgers Good chose “fulfilling.” “It has enabled me the opportunity to develop into a professional and to be part of a larger community.” She explains that one of the benefits of staying at JMU for both her masters and doctoral programs has been the varied opportunities to build partnerships across the university, to not only develop confidence in her skills and abilities, but to also develop a professional identity with a clear goals for the future.
Rodgers Good’s and Meixner’s research in the Chronicle can be found here: Views Diverge Sharply on Whether Learning Centers Improve Teaching.
In Case You Missed It… is a feature of the Center for Faculty Innovation blog providing resources from our programs for faculty who were are unable to attend our events. Although no substitute for hands-on experience, we hope these follow up posts prove a useful resource for our faculty.
Thanks to the excellent proposals received from the JMU community, the Center for Faculty Innovation is proud to present over 40 sessions for the 8th annual May Symposium. Visit the 2014 May Symposium website to explore the various workshops, roundtables, and institutes being offered to support faculty work in Teaching, Scholarship, and Career Development.
This year, Conference Wednesday represents an evolution of the May Symposium experience based on feedback requesting more offerings after the grade submission deadline. Register for Wednesday, May 14th, and attend any sessions taking place on that day – including the lunch plenary by visiting scholar, John W. Creswell. Wednesday concludes with the Noftsinger Celebration of Madison Scholarship talks and reception.
May Symposium 2014 also has a full range of institutes and lockdowns offered throughout the week. These sessions may require applications or pre-registration, so plan now to attend if you are interested in one of these offerings.
A master schedule of the week’s offerings is available in the resource box on the home page so you can start planning your May Symposium experience now. Please visit the website for a full listing and description of everything being offered at May Symposium 2014.
Harrisonburg, VA — This fall, the Furious Flower Conference, “Seeding the Future of African American Poetry,” builds on a foundation established 20 years ago when the first conference devoted to African American poetry and criticism convened at JMU in Harrisonburg, Va. At the time, The Washington Post called it “historic” because it was probably the largest group of black American poets and scholars ever assembled.
The 2014 symposium is dedicated to Rita Dove (pictured above), who attended the first conference in 1994 when she was the poet laureate of the United States. Addressing the more than 30 eminent poets, plus another 300 writers, critics and scholars who attended, she acknowledged her debt to black writers who had preceded her, crediting them with preparing an audience to accept African American poets who investigate all subjects, even ones not traditionally associated with “black issues.”
At the heart of this year’s conference is a commitment to present and celebrate diverse voices within the genre. Literary trailblazers Toi Derricotte, Michael Harper, Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson, Ishmael Reed and Quincy Troupe Jr. will be recognized with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Other special guests include Elizabeth Alexander, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Jericho Brown, Kwame Dawes, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Patricia Smith, Afaa Michael Weaver, Aracelis Girmay, Evie Shockley, and Frank X Walker.
The schedule is packed with speeches, poetry readings and critical roundtable discussions. More than 20 scholarly panels and papers range in topics from “We Are Cowboys in the Boat of Ra: Sonny Rollins and Ishmael Reed’s Black Cowboy” to “Who Stole the Soul: An Avant-Garde History of the Dark Room Collective,” from “Everything Is Animal: African American Nature Poetry” to “Electronic Corpse: The Role of Social Media in Collaborative Poetry Making.”
Highlights of the conference include an art exhibit at the newly designed Sawhill Gallery on campus and a concert with the Morgan State University Choir and the JMU Chorale. The conference finale features Ravi Coltrane, the American post-bop saxophonist. Reviewing Coltrane’s 2013 album, NPR described his approach as “sleek and modern ... loosely suggesting his father’s [John Coltrane’s] adventurous spirit.”
Connections like this infuse the conference with a sense of legacy, of history. But it’s a history that inspires people to innovate and to lay claim to their lineage in their own way. This has been one of the hallmarks of the Furious Flower Conference since its inception.
A professor of English at JMU, Dr. Joanne Gabbin conceived of the first event as a tribute to the great poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and she drew its name from one of Brooks’ poems:
cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face
all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.
In 2004, Gabbin staged an encore conference, dedicated to Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez, two architects of the Black Arts Movement. Under the banner of “regenerating the black poetic tradition,” audiences had the rare opportunity to see more than 50 poets and scholars share their work and comment on the development and the future of this genre. In response, the award-winning activist poet Nikky Finney was moved to remark, “This is black poetry planet.”
After the second conference, JMU established the first and only academic center in the world dedicated to African American poetry, the Furious Flower Poetry Center, and made Gabbin its executive director. With continued support from the university and financial gifts from the prestigious Poetry Foundation and other organizations, the center is poised to deliver a third event, much of which is free and open to the public.
For further information about the conference, visit furiousflower2014.com or call the Furious Flower Poetry Center at (540) 568-8883.
With its national conference now less than a year away, the Furious Flower Poetry Center has announced the initial slate of poets who will be its special guests. The event is dedicated to Rita Dove, the youngest person to have held the post of Poet Laureate of the United States (1993–1995), and the first African American to bear the title. She’ll also be the youngest poet to have been honored this way by Furious Flower. In addition, the conference recognizes the achievements of literary trailblazers Toi Derricotte, Michael Harper, Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson, Ishmael Reed, and Quincy Troupe, Jr. with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
These legendary poets will attend panels, participate in sessions, and read their work, as will several others who have been invited because of their important contributions to the genre of African American poetry. Among the notable poets who will attend are Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Jericho Brown, Kwame Dawes, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Aracelis Girmay, Duriel Harris, Tyehimba Jess, Evie Shockley, and Frank X Walker.
Furious Flower executive director Dr. Joanne Gabbin remembers, “Twenty years ago, we dedicated the first conference, ‘A Revolution in African American Poetry,’ to Gwendolyn Brooks and spotlighted the powerful writings of the 1950s to the present. A decade later, we celebrated the poets of the 1960s Black Arts Movement and their effect on contemporary writers with ‘Regenerating the Black Poetic Tradition,’ dedicating that conference to Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez.”
Both Brooks and Baraka are now gone, but their influence extends to the generations of poets that follow. At the first conference in 1994, Dove acknowledged her literary debt to the Black Arts Movement, crediting it with preparing her audience to accept an African American poet who explored themes other than blackness. She also gave tribute to Brooks, to whom that year’s conference was dedicated, saying, “Standing in front of this literary congregation as a grown woman, a woman who has entered her forties, I feel very strange thinking that when Gwendolyn Brooks was awarded the 1950 Pulitzer Prize ... I was not even, as people used to say then, ‘a twinkle in my daddy’s eye.’ ”
In 1987, Dove was the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Appropriately, she serves as a bridge between the elders of black poetry, like Brooks, the vigor of the poets of the Black Arts Movement, and African American writers today.
This year’s event, happening Sept. 24–27 and dubbed Furious Flower’s “third decade-defining conference,” takes the next natural step with “Seeding the Future of African American Poetry.”
“We’re focusing on issues particularly important in the 21st century, including the globalization of black poetry, communication technology’s effects on poetic expression, and gender equality,” Gabbin explains. It will also highlight emerging voices in the genre, many of whom have been especially invited to bring their diverse work to the attention of scholars and writers in the field, and for the appreciation of everyone who attends their readings, all of which will be free and open to the public.
Intelligence analysis through the lens of religion and culture
By Jan Gillis ('07)
James Prince with Dr. Frances Flannery, associate professor of religion
College changes you. Just ask James Prince (’14) who came to JMU imagining he would get a religion degree and then go on to graduate school for Biblical Studies.
The class Apocalypticism, Religious Terrorism and Peace with Associate Professor of Religion Dr. Frances Flannery prompted him in a new direction. Flannery teaches in the areas of Hebrew Bible, Judaism and religious terrorism. She is also director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Terrorism and Peace. “Dr. Flannery deeply influenced my academic career. Her commitment to her students' education and her immense interest in foreign affairs and religious terrorism really ignited my passion for this field,” he says.
A chance to make a difference
He has since added a Political Science minor to complement his Interdisciplinary Religion major, enrolled in Arabic courses, and has immersed himself in the study of counterterrorism and international affairs. “I'm just enthralled by it all,” he says. Prince feels religious studies can inform national security efforts and improve the chances of solving a critical problem in our global society.
"There’s a great need to take into serious account religious motivations when analyzing intelligence and evaluating terrorist organizations' agendas.”
“Religion and national security intelligence may seem unrelated, but there’s a real need to put them to work together. There is a big blind spot in intelligence, and in public policy in general, because most analysts have backgrounds in intelligence analysis, in political science, or in international affairs. They typically don’t have a background in specialized religious education that helps them view intelligence from the religious and cultural standpoint of a given area,” he says.
“Unfortunately, many terrorist organizations have religiously motivated goals. All forms of religion typically have some kind of terrorist branch that the mainstream branch denounces as heretical,” he says. “When you ignore terrorists' radical religious theologies, and think religious extremists are only motivated by political and financial goals, you’ve got a blind spot as an analyst.”
Prince's interests have led to an undergraduate teaching-apprentice position under the tutelage of Dr. John Newman, former Executive Assistant to the Director of the National Security Agency, in an upper-level political science course on counterterrorism.
James Prince (second from left) listens as Dr. Tim Walton, intelligence analysis professor, explains recently declassified CIA documents.
“My hope is that the declassification of the CIA documents can shine a light into the current Syrian conflict and that the lessons learned can somehow help find a peaceful path forward.”
He also conducted research in preparation for the 'Intelligence and the Transition from War to Peace Conference' held at JMU in March. Prince and other JMU students analyzed recently declassified CIA documents on intelligence and presidential policymaking during the 1990s Bosnian War that were the basis for the conference scholarship. Prince used the documents to produce a new analytical schema for understanding the origins of genocides, which he presented in poster-format at the conference.
Religion and Intelligence Club
Prince put his cross-disciplinary training to work in another way, founding the Religion and Intelligence Club at JMU. “This semester we're reading through The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. Last semester we held a Zero Dark Thirty movie-night in the JMU Planetarium, and we've also functioned as a book club that meets over lunch. Our focus is not to debate about individual faiths," he says, "but rather to discuss how religion can play a significant role in the world theater when it comes to terrorists and their motivations. Often times, radical religious theology can be the catalyst for terrorists to push the envelope and do the unthinkable.”
After graduation, Prince is interested in a career in Peace Studies for a political think tank or academic institution and is currently weighing several job offers. What’s his ultimate goal in combining his interests in religion and counterterrorism? “[Being] in the best position to hopefully make a positive impact for peace in this world.”
Learn more about the Madison Experience.
As part of the JMU Women's Basketball Team, Nikki Newman certainly has what it takes on the court. Her passion and talent just won her the title for CAA's Defensive Player of the Year, and helped her lead the Dukes to win the 2014 CAA Championship. She brings that same passion and talent into her classroom as she wraps up student teaching and her final year here at JMU.
After considering sevral majors, Newman says she heard that the programs at the College of Education are fantastic and since "I've always had a passion to work with kids, without hesitation, I began the Elementary Education program at the CoE. I can definitely say it was one of the best decisions I've made while being at JMU."
Newman was inspired by her father, also a teacher, to start on the path to becoming an educator but says her experiences in the field give her a great opportunity to form relationships with her students.
"There are so many great experiences that I have had, especially from my student teaching placement - I'm fortunate enough to still be with the same class from my practicum experience - and it is very exciting to able to spend so much time with them and see them grow. The kids got the opportunity to make Valentines day boxes to put all their Valentines in that they got from their classmates. They were able to make it anything they wanted to, so a variety of things came in the classroom, bu there was one little girl who came in with a bag over her box. She said 'Miss Newman! I made my Valentines day box because of you!' She pulled the bag off, and she had made a basketball hoop for her Valentines box. She had turned it upside down and it was basically a basketball court, and she had 2 hoops on either side of the box. It was super cute!"
Newman says she believes that playing basketball has helped her be more patient in the classroom, but that her sense of humor from the classroom is brought onto the court.
"Sometimes I stay in teacher mode as if I am still with Elementary school kids. The girls always laugh at me! I definitely believe it is beneficial for me though, as well as the girls on the team. I always have stories for the girls about the kids coming up and asking me questions, or telling me how much fun they had at a game and how much they look up to us. There have been a few times where some of my teammates were able to make it to the schools I have been placed in to help out! I can relate from being on a college level women's basketball team to an elementary classroom, and I love it!
To anyone considering education as a career, Newman has some advice:
"If you are truly passionate about becoming a teacher, I can promise you that you will not regret it! The professors are great and you can tell that they genuinely love what they do. You form so many great friendships and you learn so much about teaching. Without a doubt I can promise you would enjoy your time if you decided to pursue teaching here at the College of Education at JMU."
Nikki Newman is wrapping up the fifth-year of her M.A.T. program. She is an Interdisciplinary liberal studies major with a minor in elementary education.
Majors: Finance and Biology, Pre-medicine Program
Interests: Netflix, sweet tea, football season, and snowboarding
Campus Affiliations: Boarderline and American Medical Student Association
Ethnic conflict became the most destructive crisis in Europe since the end of World War II
Map shows ethnic composition of various regions of the former Yugoslavia.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, most of the countries in Eastern Europe made the transition more or less quickly and peacefully to democratic governments and market economies.
Yugoslavia, however, was different. Starting in 1991, and for most of the following decade, Yugoslavia was wracked by violence as various ethnic groups fought among themselves and the country disintegrated.
Initially the U.S. government was not deeply engaged with this problem. Officials in Washington were concerned with more strategically significant crises such as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. The American government left the handling of the fighting in the former Yugoslavia to the European Union and the United Nations. These two international organizations provided humanitarian aid and peacekeepers, among other things, but were unable to stop the conflict.
As time went on, the fighting, especially in Bosnia, continued and became the most destructive crisis in Europe since the end of World War II. Tens of thousands died; and half of the Bosnian population—some 2,000,000 people—became displaced within Bosnia or refugees in other countries. There was also massive damage to infrastructure and private property.
Finally, in 1995, after years of only fitful involvement, the United States reversed its long-standing policy and decided to commit its resources, including possible use of military force, to stop the conflict.
In November 1995, as a result of this use of American power, the warring groups signed the Dayton Peace Accords and ended the fighting; a peace that still holds.
The documents released from the archives of the Central Intelligence Agency in September 2013 show how American policy evolved from 1992 to 1996 and the role of intelligence in that process. The collection also includes materials from the Department of State and the National Security Council. These documents are especially noteworthy because it normally takes 30 years or more for sensitive intelligence documents to be declassified.
In preparation for the arrival of our visiting scholar, Dr. Laura Stachowski, JMU College of Education faculty gathered to discuss Dr. Stachowski's work and provide a "pre visit" opportunity to share present understanding and possible dreams for our programs.
Lead by Dr. Noorie Brantmeier, Dr. Ed Brantmeier, and Dr. Aaron Bodle, this discussion group reflected on their personal intercultural expereinces, what the CoE Intercultural program is doing right and ways we can grow and deepen our expereinces for our students.
Visit our flickr page for images from this wonderful experience!
From Oktoberfest to Gluehwein—my Study Abroad year in Germany taught me to live like I've never lived before
By Morgan Robinson ('13)
Morgan Robinson ('13) studied in Germany during the Junior Year Abroad and now lives and works in Italy.
"There are two things children should get from their parents: Roots and wings"—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
After spending a year abroad I can truly attest to the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote above. And, my parents have done a great job applying it. A year abroad will no doubt change a person. You will learn to spread your wings and embrace the endless opportunities presented. As you learn to live in a foreign city, you will recognize your roots at home. I spent just shy of a full year living in Munich, Germany. I say living rather than studying because a Study Abroad experience is so much more than actual studying; it's living like you've never lived before.
Learn about yourself
Living abroad will absolutely leave you asking yourself 'is this real life?' Hopping on planes to exotic locations for weekend trips, taking advantage of the incredibly rich culture—$10 world-class operas, yes please!—and connecting with people from all over the world never gets old. But it's not all glam. As Americans we are used to a pretty cushy lifestyle; foreign bureaucracy can be quite stressful. There is culture shock, and a bit of homesickness is bound to happen. You are pretty much independent—you pay your own bills, make your own plans, deal with consequences on your own. You learn a whole lot about yourself and learn some serious real-world, relevant lessons.
'Study Abroad challenges you to follow your dreams and to get the most out of life.'
I went to Germany through the JMU Junior Year in Munich Program, and my trip was funded by the merit-based German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship, Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst. I lived in student apartments in the city and studied German, French and Norwegian at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet. I quickly fell in love with Munich and all of Bavaria.
Experiences exceed expectations
I experienced the organized chaos that is Oktoberfest and loved every minute of the Christmas Markets —I don't know what I'll do without Gluehwein! And the majestic castles and landscape of the region never ceased to amaze me. I love the language and found the Bavarian dialect oddly charming. My class schedule allowed for a great deal of traveling; I made it to 11 countries throughout the year and became quite a savvy traveler. I learned from experience the right and wrong ways to pack a suitcase, how to book tickets and that it is a good idea to always bring a Lonely Planet book to get the most out of a trip. I had an incredible year. It far exceeded any expectations.
In my experience, it was the year in Munich that really taught me the incredible value of home. I went to Europe with the mindset that I could possibly live there full-time. The inner-Euro girl in me came out big time, and I found myself wondering if I'd like to live in the cities I visited. More often than not that answer was yes. After that initial excitement of the first months in Europe faded, I began to realize that expat status would be really difficult. I am not necessarily a homebody, but there is no way I could ever get used to the idea of starting a family 3,000 miles away from my home in Virginia. And, of course, I'd miss living in the good old U.S.A. Being away for so long made me realize everything I had to appreciate at home and how important family is. I think this was probably the most valuable lesson I learned.
Follow your dreams
I absolutely advise every JMU student to spend time abroad. It arms you with experience that gives you a real can-do attitude. Study Abroad challenges you to follow your dreams and to get the most out of life. I was a little worried about what I might miss at home over the year, but the things I got to do and the priceless life lessons I learned made it worth it.
I graduated in May with a degree in Modern Foreign Languages, concentrating in German and French. I originally planned on attending graduate school to study literature, but I changed plans. During my last semester, I learned Italian and decided to put it to use studying Italian cuisine. I am currently in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, working as an intern for a chef. I plan to move to Florence soon to learn more!
Follow the Sicilian culinary adventures of Morgan Robinson ('13) on her food blog at twoburnersandaminifridge.com.
Learn more about the Madison Experience.
Hillcrest Scholar Emily Thyroff ('15) studies in Australia's rain forest
By Martha Graham
Emily Thyroff ('15) says working with Professor Heather Griscom led to her interest in forest ecology.
Waking in the understory of Australia's rain forest to the sound of tropical birds, scurrying bandicoots and musky kangaroos, Emily Thyroff ('15) is far away from her JMU "home." Thyroff is spending the spring semester in the rain forest.
Thyroff was heavily influenced by the opportunity to do undergraduate research at JMU, as well as because Madison felt like "home."
For four months, the junior biology major from Rochester, N.Y, is living and studying outside in the rain forest as part of The School for Field Studies, earning 16 JMU credits. The school, an international nonprofit, is the premier college level program for undergraduates committed to environmental studies abroad, experiential learning and research. Thyroff is studying rain forest ecology while participating in conservation and restoration efforts.
Thyroff, whose interests include biology and global studies, was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by biology Professor Heather Griscom, herself an alumna of the field school. Griscom also assisted Thyroff during the rigorous scholarship application process.
Thyroff credits Griscom with stirring her interest in forest ecology during a class her sophomore year, studying non-timber products such as ferns, mushrooms, and ginseng. Subsequently, Thyroff worked with Griscom on research on ginseng, an indigenous species once abundant in the Shenandoah Valley that is not doing well today. It's important to find out why because to reintroduce it without understanding why it has declined could make restoration futile, Thyroff says.
The close relationships Thyroff found with Griscom and with Patrice Ludwig, also of the biology department, affirmed her decision to choose JMU. She was heavily influenced by the opportunity to do undergraduate research, as well as because it felt like "home." "Family is everything to me," Thyroff says. And she found a second home at JMU. She tells of one difficult moment during her freshman year when she was teary and homesick: "Dr. Ludwig put me in her office, so I could pull myself together. That meant the world to me."
Learn more about the Madison Experience.
To learn more about the Honors Program: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/
On February 9, 2014, JMU’s Men’s Club Basketball won the NIRSA Regional Basketball Championship for the first time in the club’s existence.
It was a victorious weekend long in the making, as the team has been building strength for several years in order to reach this point. The club had been close to attaining a regional title in years past, but the character and drive of this year’s team proved to be something special.
Club President Chris Sheehy had this to say about his teammates’ will to succeed in regards to previous seasons: “We had come close to winning regional and national tournaments in the past, and I think those losses helped us focus and put in the effort necessary to win this year. We have had good team chemistry this semester and the guys made necessarily individual sacrifices without complaint.”
The journey began on Friday, February 7 at College Park at the University of Maryland. JMU was one of 18 men’s club teams from the area. The Dukes played Stevenson University at 6:30 PM and came out swinging, defeating their opponent by 34 points.
On Saturday, JMU showed remarkable resilience as the club was able to come from behind and pull off a victory against St. John's University by a margin of 3 points in bracket play. After the comeback win, JMU advanced into single elimination, where the Dukes defeated Loyola and Drexel. JMU came out slow during the quarterfinal game against Drexel, which kept the game close in the first half, but the Dukes were able to increase the tempo and edge out a victory by a margin of 14 points in the second.
The semi-final game was held Sunday morning and JMU took on UMBC, a strong team that gave the Dukes a tough match. After a closely contested first half, JMU was able to blow the game open and help themselves to a 15-point winning margin, which sent them into the finals.
Having advanced all the way to the Sunday afternoon championship game, JMU was ready to take home the trophy. Their opponent was St. Johns, a team they had narrowly defeated the day before, who had beaten several other talented clubs on their way to the finals. The game was extremely close throughout both halves, but in the end JMU had pulled ahead by 7 points by the time the whistle blew.
“This victory is good for us because it gives us necessary confidence going into the key part of our season,” said Sheehy. “This one felt like getting the elephant off our backs and was much needed recognition for the work we put in.” The team also noted that it was extremely helpful to have the support of parents and JMU club basketball alumni in attendance during the competition.
In anticipation of the national tournament, which will be held in April at NC State University, the club plans to keep drilling and working on skills that can help them make a run at another title. JMU will host a tournament in late March and plans to go to other competitions before Nationals.
Dr. Joshua Pate will use the experience to inform his teaching and research at JMU
By James Heffernan
Dr. Joshua Pate, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, will be covering wheelchair curling for the Paralympic News Service.
Dr. Joshua Pate, an assistant professor in James Madison University’s School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, is in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, which get under way on Saturday and run through March 16.
Pate was selected to work at the Games as a volunteer reporter for the Paralympic News Service. In addition to his teaching and research, he has a master’s degree in journalism and electronic media, and has worked as an interactive producer for Turner Sports as well as in athletic communications.
Pate, who has been in Sochi since Feb. 28, answered questions this week via email.
As a professor whose research focus is disability sport and the Paralympic Games, what does the casual sports fan need to understand about the Games?
'[These athletes] are not competing at this level to be an inspiration or a great story. They are competing to win.'
These are elite athletes competing at the Paralympic Games, many of whom train full time or balance full-time training along with a part-time job or school. Many of them are sponsored or work to gain sponsorships. The Paralympic Games, both winter and summer, occur every four years at the same site of the Olympic Games, in the same venues and just a few weeks after the Olympic closing ceremony. It’s elite sport, much like we view the Olympic Games; it’s just not covered as much by media in the United States. I think the athletes will tell you — and the disability community will predominantly agree — that they are not competing at this level to be an inspiration or a great story. They are competing to win.
How many athletes from the U.S. are competing?
The United States sent 74 athletes and six guides for athletes with visual impairments. That is a large contingency compared to other nations. It is the largest team the USA has sent to the Winter Paralympic Games.
How has your professional background prepared you for this assignment?
As a professor, I research disability sport and more specifically the Paralympic Games. I felt I was doing myself and my research a bit of a disservice having never even been in the Paralympic Games environment, and I have been fortunate to have this opportunity to do just that. My experience writing at NASCAR.com as well in athletic media relations at the University of Tennessee was very similar in many ways and allowed me to become extremely familiar with the role of a sports journalist. That is what led to me being selected for this position.
Was this the first time you applied to cover the Games? What is involved in the volunteer selection process?
I had applied to volunteer at the Vancouver Games [in 2010] and the London Games [in 2012] but did not get selected. For this process, I submitted my application two years ago and it required passport numbers, travel history, work history, current profession, etc. It was a fairly invasive process. Then last February I had a Skype interview for a position in the Paralympic News Service. The interview went well, and I was invited to accept a volunteer position as a flash quote reporter.
Talk about that role. Will you be covering specific events?
As a flash quote reporter, I will be interviewing athletes as soon as their competition is over and then the Paralympic News Service distributes these quotes to media worldwide. There are about 70 flash quote reporters on the ground here covering five different sports. I also get to write some news stories throughout the week when they are timely.
I’ll be covering wheelchair curling. I was not very familiar with the sport and had to do quite a bit of research. Still, I have learned more about the sport while here in Sochi than I did in the months leading up to my trip. Wheelchair curling is similar to curling; it’s just that the athletes cannot sweep the ice in front of the stone as it moves. That is the biggest difference viewers will notice. I did get a chance to work ice sledge hockey, which is hockey with athletes moving on sleds rather than using their legs. It is so intense. I worked one day as a flash quote reporter there during practice, and will go back on my off day during the Games.
Where can readers find your work? Will you be blogging about the experience?
My work as a volunteer will be anonymous. We work as a team to provide quotes and news stories for the Paralympic News Service. However, in addition to my volunteer work, I have been blogging for mpower-sports.com about the energy and environment here in Sochi. And finally I will be transforming my own experience into research, as I have been maintaining a journal throughout this experience and hope to create a qualitative manuscript from it.
What are your impressions of Sochi?
This is my first time in Russia and it was extremely difficult to adjust at first. Another volunteer offered to meet me at the airport, and without her I may still be at the airport. The language barrier was difficult to overcome for me at first when I was trying to get settled into a routine, and therefore it made social life a bit difficult as well. I found myself checking Facebook, Twitter and email all the time just for some familiarity and communication. After a few days and meeting my coworkers, everything got so much better because I was able to connect with people and do what I came here to do, which is work.
What are the conditions like for the athletes and others with disabilities at the games? Are there special accommodations?
Russia is a place in transition with regard to accessibility. The people here have been overly generous with help and concern for access. The systems within Russia, however, will still take some time to change. Sochi, from what I have been told, went through a dramatic overhaul to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In talking with locals, much of Russia is simply not accessible for a wheelchair or someone with mobility impairment, particularly in bigger cities. Many of the ramps into buildings here are temporary because the facilities are temporary, like food canteens or check-in and security locations. The sport venues have great accessibility, but small issues like sideway curb cuts or flat transitions still are absent. Sochi now has a chance to be a leader for Russia in showing other cities how to become accessible.
Where will the games be broadcast in the U.S.?
NBC and NBCSN will broadcast 52 hours of the Paralympic Winter Games, and this is of major significance in the United States. It is the most coverage of the Paralympic Games ever shown on television in the United States, so this will be a monumental moment for Paralympic sport in our country. Many of the events will be in the middle of the night because of the time difference, but some will also be shown on NBC, such as the opening ceremony and the gold medal sledge hockey game on March 15 at 1 p.m. Check out the full broadcast lineup. Additionally, all events can be seen live online at TeamUSA.org.
How will you involve your students at JMU?
Just being in Sochi has opened my eyes to many things about the Paralympic Games and events of this caliber that I can use in the classroom as well in the areas of event management, facility management, accessibility, sport communication and branding.
'I wanted to use this to inform my teaching at a higher level in sport management, ... I also wanted to be a more informed researcher. '
I teach sport sociology and sport communication, so my experience relates to both courses. When I return, in sport sociology we will use this experience to begin our discussion of disability in sport and how it is perceived. Typically, audiences label disability sport performances as inspirational or greater than they actually are. What these athletes want, however, is to simply be viewed as just that — athletes. In the sport communication course, we will discuss branding and broadcasting. The entire Olympic Park had to be rebranded from the Olympic rings to the Paralympic Agitos logo in a matter of one week. And while many crews packed up and went home after the Olympic Games, an entire international sporting event was staged in that same location and virtually ignored by comparison. Again, how can we bridge that gap?
What will you take from this experience?
I wanted to volunteer at the Paralympic Winter Games for the experience of being in the environment. I wanted to use this to inform my teaching at a higher level in sport management, and I feel I have achieved that already in many areas. I also wanted to be a more informed researcher, and I feel I have accomplished that as well. I can now say I have been inside the Paralympic Games environment and have a greater sense of the operational side of an event of this magnitude with more than 25,000 volunteers and a separate paid workforce.
What I did not anticipate gaining was a network of connections. Our faculty preach that to students all the time, and I naively came here without taking my own advice. Yet I will leave here with sport connections across Russia, France, Scotland, the U.K. and Canada as well as other parts of the United States. The people I have met have made this experience complete for me.
By Taylor Hudson
The All Together One Award plaque on the Commons. Picture by Evan White for JMU Technology and Design.
The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 21, 2014. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
During President Rose’s inauguration address in 1999, the phrase “all together one” was born. “All together one” describes the atmosphere that JMU is well known for—an overwhelming sense of community. This sense of community is displayed all over campus—whether it is a random stranger holding a door, a professor staying on-campus beyond the typical work day to help a struggling student, or a housekeeper that greets every student with a smile. As a result, the All Together One Awards were created to recognize and thank the individuals who embody the spirit of community at JMU.
The All Together One awards are hosted and organized by JMU’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, a National Leadership Honor Society. The first awards ceremony was held in the spring semester of 2000, and ODK has recognized superb members of the JMU community every year since.
Unlike other awards ceremonies held on campus, the All Together One Awards boast a unique difference: any one can nominate, and anyone can win. The nominators and awardees are not limited by any sort of organization, class, department or role on campus. “You can have anyone from a housekeeper or bus driver to an associate vice-president on the same stage. And that is really special,” says Dave Barnes, the University Unions director.
Student members of ODK are in charge of selecting the award winners. Each year, ODK receives countless nominations from every corner of the school, and it is their goal to select the people who best embody the spirit of JMU. To help their decision process, the selection committee looks at several aspects of the nominee and their contributions to JMU. Inspiration, community building, dedication to learning, a caring attitude, teamwork, and uniqueness are just a few of the qualities that are considered.
The committee aims for approximately five recipients each year; however, the number is flexible. The goal is quality, not quantity. In the past, anywhere from four to six people have received the award.
The awards recipients are recognized at a ceremony and receive a pin. They also are honored with a stone, on the Commons outside of D-Hall, engraved with their name to commemorate their contributions.
This year, the awards ceremony takes place on April 15, 2014 on the Commons at noon (rain location is Grafton-Stovall Theatre). The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 21, by 5 pm. So, keep an eye out or that one person who you believe truly embodies the spirit of JMU, and don’t hesitate to thank them for what they do by submitting their name for an All Together One award!
Send your nomination as an email attachment to email@example.com. ODK considers the following criteria when evaluating nominations:
- Impact on the community
- Inspiring others
- An attitude of caring/humility/kindness
- A dedication to learning
- Committed to working together
- Unique contribution of nominee
How do you get a head start on graduate school? Physics major Emily Dick ('16) has a plan.
By Meaghan MacDonald ('13)
From Winter 2014 Madison magazine
Physics majors are in high demand across the job board, whether it’s engineering, graduate school, medical school or working for companies. Sophomore Emily Dick (’16) credits the appeal of physics majors to their never-ending quest to both ask questions and to make connections of the unknown to the known.
“You have to justify the connections that you are being taught,” Dick says. “You can see the equation, but unless you understand why and how to get there, you’re not going to remember it. And you’re not going to know why it’s like that. … Making those connections really helps things stick.”
Dick says that professors who teach the fundamental skill of “making connections,” and JMU’s small class sizes, are two things that drew her to the JMU physics and astronomy program. A local student from Broadway, Va., Dick says a physics major — and even JMU — were not her first choices until she visited campus and met professors in the JMU Department of Physics and Astronomy.
'JMU is unique in that it gives all undergrads the opportunity to work in the labs as soon as their sophomore year.'
"I visited all my other college choices, but after I toured JMU, I knew I wanted to come here.”
Dick was accepted for admission at the College of William & Mary, Christopher Newport University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She also made the interview round at Princeton University which, she says, “was an honor. However, the name of a university isn’t enough to base a final college decision on,” explains Dick, who also is a JMU Second Century Scholar. “Most of these universities have graduate schools that give graduate students first choice of all the research laboratory positions. But, JMU is unique in that it gives undergrads the opportunity to work in the labs as soon as their sophomore year,” she adds. “This really appealed to me.”
Gaining the advantage
Dick, who plans to study astrophysics further after graduation, was one of three undergraduate students to complete active galactic nuclear research with Anca Constantin, JMU physics and astronomy professor. The summer 2013 research was part of a $10,000 grant from the Jeffress Memorial Trust to continue Constantin’s project — finding water megamasers suitable for measuring distances from Earth to the galaxies they reside in and for measuring the mass of these galaxies’ supermassive black holes.
For the whole history of astronomy, we wanted to get estimates of these,” says Constantin, who is part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Megamaser Cosmology Project. “We do have some other methods for weighing supermassive black holes, but this method gives us the most accurate estimate on how massive they are.”
JMU Physics and Astronomy Professor Shanil Virani says, “JMU physics and astronomy undergraduate students get to complete hands-on research early in their academic careers and this makes them more marketable. It also gives them an advantage for their futures careers in physics and in their continued educational careers.”
Learning collaborative skills
Dick plans to pursue both a master’s and doctorate degree, and says she feels she has a “head start” on graduate school because of her JMU undergraduate research experiences.
“My mom says when I was 4, I asked her what was at the end of the universe,” Dick says. “I was always thinking about it. I always loved math and science, and I like figuring out stuff for myself, so physics was a perfect choice. Now, working with Dr. Constantin this summer, I have been studying black holes at the far reaches of the universe — hands-on research looking beyond my 4-year-old imagination!”
Dick also likes the collaborative nature of physics and astronomy studies. “Answering science’s greatest questions is up to everyone — all fields of study. When people think of physicists, like Albert Einstein, those are the great leaps and bounds everyone needed to make. But now, it’s going to be everybody working together to figure stuff out. We already have the equations; we just have to analyze things and discover more.”
Learn more about Constantin and Dick’s megamaser research.
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Jesse Humphries, an elementary education major, began her impressive journey in educational leadership at JMU as a TEACH Ambassador for the College of Education (CoE). Part of her role as an ambassador involves assisting students through Praxis core tutoring, peer advising sessions, and answering questions about the CoE and the Teacher Education program application process. Like every senior TEACH ambassadors, Humphries is now completing an Education Leadership Project (ELP). She chose the JMU ROTE Program (Raising an Organization of Trained Educators).
ROTE, developed by CoE alumnae, Jen Bailey (’13), allows JMU students in the College of Education to have hands on experience at Smithland Elementary School in Harrisonburg. The program is headed by Humphries, her peers and Smithland Elementary School principal, and JMU alumnus, Gary Painter (’91). Painter teaches two sections of EDUC 401: Issues in Education, a one credit course designed specifically for ROTE participants, and Humphries is in charge of scheduling the 20 ROTE members placed at Smithland as well as helping conduct interviews into the program.
When looking for for students who would really benefit from ROTE, Humphries seeks students who have a genuine passion for education, who perhaps have taken on leadership positions in the past, and who are flexible. “The point [of ROTE]” Humphries explains, “is to see how a school works, all together. How the teachers work collaboratively: not just working within their own grade level, but working cohesively with all grade levels as a faculty.”
All JMU ROTE participants spend time in-class with a teacher for two hours a week, one month at a time. As Humphries explains, ROTE members “don’t see the same teachers until they’ve seen all the teachers. There is [also] a requirement to attend a minimum of four events outside of the class: PTO meetings, faculty meetings extracurricular activities, afterschool events; ROTE members do what the teachers do.” Humphries adds that the teachers at Smithland “are willing do to anything, bend over backwards, to better a student’s experience and shape them to have great character, intelligence and a firm belief in themselves.”
Through the program at Smithland and the EDUC 401, JMU students get to explore topics which interest them. “Last semester,” Humphries describes, “we talked about poverty in education, we had ESL teacher panels, we looked at the Smithland Newcomers program, and this semester we’re focusing on teacher evaluations.” She believes that the JMU ROTE program provides “a rare opportunity for pre-professional teacher candidates to actually get into classrooms their freshman year,” which is a great way for students to find out what really interests them in the field of education and perhaps what grade level they could teach in the future.
In traditional teacher licensure programs, students do not get into the classroom until their senior year during practicum placements. Through ROTE, Humphries says, this year’s freshmen class will really benefit from the program and will have already learned the basics by the time they enter student teaching as graduate students. Humphries expects JMU CoE students to be “hands-on student teachers” who are “able [to] understand what’s expected of teachers beyond the lesson plans and activities” and will have the experience to go into the classroom confidently. As Humphries notes, JMU student teachers will be past the “observing-learning phase and they’ll be able to jump right in and get their hands dirty.”
As she moves into the graduate program at JMU, Humphries hopes to stay at Smithland for practicum in the 2014-15 school year, but she knows she will be able to take what she learned so far and apply it to any school setting. “The leadership experience has been phenomenal. It’s a TON of work,” Humphries mentions, “Time management is important” but she believes that “ROTE is going to change what type of teachers its members become, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
In addition to her involvement in ROTE program, Humphries is an honors student, a member of Kappa Delta Pi, Childhood Educators, TEACH Ambassadors, and she is also working on her senior thesis. Her concentration is in math, science and technology and she is minoring in educational media.
Humphries has created and maintains both the ROTE website: http://rotejmu.wix.com/rotejmu and the ROTE Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JMU-ROTE/512734192138681
Rose Library, June 9-13, 2014
JMU's Course Redesign Institute for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) will provide an opportunity for faculty to learn and apply the principles, methods and strategies for developing an aligned course in a STEM discipline. This Institute will focus particularly on the design of tools for assessing student learning in STEM disciplines. Topics will include measurable learning objectives and associated assessment methods, evidence-based pedagogies and technologies, and content development. Faculty will also have the opportunity to start building new relationships with colleagues from other departments, colleges, ranks and institutions and reflect on the various approaches to teaching and learning.
Rose Library, June 16-20, 2014
JmUDESIGN encompasses an array of initiatives designed to guide faculty through the course design and course redesign processes. JmUDESIGN begins with an intensive, 5-day summer institute succeeded by on-demand consultations and optional summer workdays. Whether one is envisioning a brand new course, redesigning a course that has been taught the same way for years, or wanting to change delivery mode (Face to Face, Hybrid, Flipped Classroom, Online, etc.), jmUDESIGN will provide participants with the skills, knowledge, and support necessary to foster a learner-centered environment within which each activity and evaluation is mapped to meaningful outcomes.
Both empirical research and practical experience indicate that, across our nation, increasing numbers of students with more severe problems requiring additional time and resources are coming into counseling centers for help. However, counselors are not normally the first people students turn to when they have problems. Students most often initially reach out to friends, resident assistants, advisors, faculty, and family members, confiding in those closest to them when they are having difficulties. At other times, students attempt to hide their problems and struggles from those who care about them and, if approached, may deny that anything is wrong. In either case, here are some signs to look for and suggestions for helping a student who is in distress.
Common Causes & Signs of Student Distress
- Changes in personality (e.g., more noticeably sad, irritable, anxious, indecisive, apathetic, etc.), especially when these changes persist for more than just a few days.
- Changes in academic performance (e.g., skipping classes, failing grades, falling behind, etc.). Academic problems are often indicative of a deeper personal problem that is making it difficult for the student to concentrate or be motivated to do the things necessary to be a successful student.
- Recent significant losses (e.g., ending of a relationship, death of an important person, experiencing a traumatic event, etc.). While students have probably dated in high school, college is often the first time that students involve themselves in long-term, serious, intimate relationships and commitments. When these relationships are threatened or break up, it often takes a heavy toll on students.
- Withdrawal from others (including friends and family) and previously enjoyed activities.
- Helplessness/hopelessness (e.g., person may be unable to see a better future; feels nothing will ever change) is a particularly ominous sign. Most of us are willing to press on in life and work on our problems if we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, a day when things will be better. When students don't have that hope, they are much less motivated to put forth an effort to change their lives, and they may even have thoughts about taking their lives through suicide.
- Changes in eating patterns (e.g., loss of or increased appetite) and/or sleeping habits (e.g., insomnia or oversleeping). Sustained periods of significant changes in eating habits or insomnia can have serious consequences on both a student's academic and psychological functioning. On the other end of the spectrum, sleeping all the time may indicate that a student is trying to escape from problems by retreating to dreamland.
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs, especially when substance use leads to antagonistic, impulsive, reckless and/or violent behavior.
- Financial difficulties.
- Appearing disoriented or "out of it" (e.g., less aware of what is going on around them, more forgetful, rambling or disconnected speech, and/or behavior that seems out of context or bizarre). These may indicate either a drug-induced altered state or a serious mental health issue such as psychosis.
- Talking about committing suicide (ranging from vague statements like "Everyone would be better off without me" and "It won't matter soon" to direct and clear statements like "I'm going to kill myself"). Most people who contemplate suicide give some warning of their intentions to someone close to them.
- Talking about harming others (e.g., verbal threats, threatening emails, harassing or stalking behaviors, papers/exams that contain violent material). All such statements and actions must be taken seriously.
Assisting a Student in Distress
While it is not expected that you provide a thorough assessment, you may be the first contact for a student in distress and in a position to ask a few questions and make a few suggestions. Here are some practical tips to help a student in distress:
Speak directly to the student about your concerns, preferably in a private place.
People in distress are almost always receptive to an expression of genuine interest, caring, and concern. It is important to realize that confronting someone does not mean judging, attacking, or blaming the person; it means finding the courage to talk with the person about what you've noticed, your concerns, and your willingness to help.
Talk about why you are approaching the student and what you hope will and won't happen as a result.
Example: "I'm really worried about how sad and depressed you've been. I'm hoping that you'll listen to what I have to say and not just blow me off, because I really want to find a way to help you start to feel better."
Be specific about the behaviors you've observed that have caused your concern. Clearly stating your observations in a nonjudgmental way makes it more difficult for the person to deny that a problem exists and also lets the person know that you care enough to notice. Example: "Your attendance at class has been very sporadic, and your grades have fallen off. When you have been in class, you haven't been actively participating, and you've looked very down and withdrawn. I also thought I smelled alcohol on you a couple of times."
Express your feelings about the student's situation.
Example: "I'm really worried about you. I've been a bit nervous to approach you, because it seems like you don't believe you have a problem. At the same time, I feel that, as your professor, I need to share my concerns with you and encourage you to take advantage of resources here at JMU that could help you."
Recognize the value of emotional release and encourage the student to "talk it out."
Simply talking about the situation and knowing that someone cares can be tremendously healing.
Ask direct questions.
Don't be afraid to ask the student directly if they are drunk, confused, or have thoughts of harming themselves or someone else. You will not be "putting ideas into their heads" by doing so. Most distressed students will be relieved and comforted by such an up-front, direct approach.
Be a good listener.
Listening to the student is more important than coming up with the "right thing" to say. Even if you don't agree with his or her view of things, the important part is that the student feels heard and understood. A few helpful tips include:
- Stop talking. Your objective is to listen, not solve the student's problems.
- Ask open-ended questions that encourage the student to go further into the subject, rather than simply give a yes/no answer (e.g., "Tell me more about . . .," "How have you been feeling since that happened to you?").
- Check out your understanding of what the student is saying. In your own words, reflect back what they said.
Don't dismiss the student's perspective. What may seem like a temporary or insignificant issue to you may feel momentous and overwhelming to a student in distress. It may be helpful for you to reflect upon a time in your own life when you experienced something similar (remember when your heart was broken for the first time?).
Avoid labeling the student or his/her behavior.
For example, don't say "You're an alcoholic" or "You're bulimic." Such labels, even if they are true, can frighten or anger the student and reduce the chances that they'll acknowledge and address the problem.
Frame the decision to seek and accept help as a courageous, mature choice.
Suggest that a willingness to seek and accept assistance from others, including a counselor, indicates that the student is not running away from problems. This is especially important for guys, as men in our society are encouraged to be independent, keep feelings to themselves, and solve problems on their own.
Don't dispense glib advice.
While offered with the best of intentions, phrases like "time heals all wounds", "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade", and "this too shall pass" normally cause people in distress to feel misunderstood and as though their problems are being minimized.
Offer alternatives and establish hope.
Intense emotional pain frequently blinds distressed people to alternative solutions to their problems. Help the student develop a plan and locate needed resources so that he or she can start to feel more hopeful and begin to act to improve the situation.
Know your own limits.
While you may be able to help most people by simply listening to them and providing a little support and guidance, others may require much more than you may want or be able to provide. Signs that you may be over-extending yourself include feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by the situation, feeling angry at or afraid of the student, and having thoughts of "adopting" or otherwise rescuing the student.
Respect the student's privacy, but only up to a point.
Confidentiality is vital for trust, so you typically should not share with others what the student has shared with you. However, you must never fall into the "confidentiality trap". In situations involving a serious risk of harm to the person or someone else, don't promise to keep secrets. Despite any protest ("You're making this worse!"), the potential risks must be your first concern. Point out the bind in which the student is placing you (e.g., "If someone came to you with a situation like this, what would you do? Keep it a secret or get them help?").
Recommend that the student meet with a counselor at the Counseling Center.
- Describe the benefits of counseling. Let the student know that counselors work hard to understand students, to see things from their point of view, and to then collaboratively help them to figure out solutions.
- Let the student know that counseling services are free, voluntary, and confidential.
- Help the student make an appointment with the Counseling Center (540-568-6552). If the student is really upset, or if you're worried that he or she might not follow through, suggest making an appointment right then and there. Some faculty, staff, and friends even escort students directly to the Counseling Center when that level of support is necessary.
- Follow up with the student. The counseling process is often most difficult at the very beginning, and your encouragement may help to get the student over this initial hurdle. Ask how the first appointment went (you don't need the details, just that they connected with someone). Please remember that, because of confidentiality constraints, counselors cannot talk with you about a person you have referred without an authorization to exchange information signed by the student.
Call the Counseling Center (540-568-6552) if, at any point, you aren't sure what to do.
The mental health professionals at the Counseling Center are available to support and guide you in your efforts to help a distressed student. We will consult with you about the situation and help you to develop a plan to appropriately address it.
The new experiences of becoming a college student can be exciting but may also prove to be challenging and stressful. Sometimes students feel like they can't handle the pressures on their own, and talking with friends or relatives either seems impossible or doesn't help. This is an especially good time to consider the possible benefits of counseling.
25 Signs that Counseling Might Be Helpful to You
We compiled a list of the most common concerns voiced by students who seek counseling at the Counseling Center. As you read through the list, keep in mind that all of us have experiences like these at times. Normally, these problems are temporary and we recover fairly quickly. But if you see yourself in a number of the items or if one problem is significant enough to really disrupt your life, it might be a good idea to call or drop by the Counseling Center.
- Difficulty adjusting to life at JMU
- Anxiety related to academic work (e.g., test-taking or public-speaking anxiety)
- A dramatic fall-off in academic performance
- Relationship breakup that has really disrupted your life
- Difficulty concentrating (e.g., when trying to study) and making decisions
- Feeling tired, fatigued, like everything takes a lot of effort
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Recent change in your sleeping patterns (e.g., difficulty sleeping or sleeping all the time)
- Recent change in your eating patterns (e.g., loss of appetite or eating more than usual)
- Feeling guilty or inadequate
- Problems in your relationships with your roommate/friends
- Wanting to avoid most people, even those you like
- Wishing you were dead, having suicidal thoughts
- Having panic attacks or experiencing intense anxiety for no apparent reason
- Unexplained crying
- Bursts of anger or unusual irritability
- Use of alcohol or drugs is causing personal and/or academic problems for you
- Lack of financial resources/budgeting problems
- Problems with weight control (e.g., overeating, bulimia, anorexia, excessive exercising)
- Having experienced sexual assault or harassment
- Sexual abuse as a child or adolescent
- Concern about sexuality issues, such as; sexual performance, questions regarding sexual orientation
- Problems in your relationship with your parent(s)
- Lack of assertiveness
- Difficulty coping with the death of someone important
Each year, the Counseling Center provides counseling to over 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students at JMU. The Center is staffed by a psychiatrist, psychologists, counselors, social works and graduate students, and the services are free, voluntary, and confidential. The Center's staff is dedicated to assisting students in their pursuit of personal and academic growth, to helping students gain a better understanding and appreciation of themselves, and to supporting students as they make important decisions about their lives.
Any member of the JMU campus community may come into contact with a suicidal student. Being aware of distress signals, ways to intervene, and sources of help for the student can help you respond more effectively to such situations. Saving the life of a student might come down to you having the right knowledge and being available in the right place at the right time. The psychologists and counselors at the Counseling Center are available to students, faculty, and staff for consultation regarding these issues.
How You Can Help:
- Know the warning signs of suicide
- Familiarize yourself with the facts about suicide
- Follow the our suggestions to C.A.R.E.
Suicide Warning Signs
To help you develop some of the knowledge and skills you'll need to help suicidal students, let's begin by reviewing twelve warning signs that might tip you off that a student is thinking about taking his or her own life.
- Talking about committing suicide. Some statements may be direct and declarative (e.g., "I'm going to kill myself"), while others may be more vague (e.g., "I don't know how much longer I can take this," "It won't matter soon," "Everyone would be better off without me"). All such statements must be taken seriously.
- History of past suicide threats or attempts. All studies agree that one of the warning signs for death by suicide is a past suicide attempt and that the more serious and lethal the past attempt, the more serious the current risk.
- Developing a plan and/or obtaining the means (e.g., buying a firearm, collecting pills) to commit suicide. A student who has developed a plan to commit suicide or collected the items necessary to carry out a plan should be considered at heightened risk for suicide.
- Recent significant failures, rejections, or losses (e.g., ending of a relationship, family problems, death of an important person, financial problems, some traumatic event). The impending or actual loss of a romantic relationship seems to be particularly traumatic for many students, with feelings of being overwhelmed and distraught increasing the risk that students may act impulsively to end their emotional pain.
- Helplessness/hopelessness (e.g., person may be unable to see a future without intense, interminable pain and suffering; nothing will get better, nothing will ever change). Students who see their life as an endless road of suffering that they can do nothing about are much more likely to think about taking an early exit ramp of their own making.
- Impulsive, reckless, or risky behavior. Individuals who display such behaviors are more likely to act out on suicidal impulses. In fact, people who commit suicide are often described by those who know them as "wild" and "willing to do anything" and "the life of the party".
- Changes in academic performance such as skipping classes, failing grades, falling behind, etc. A sudden worsening of school performance in which a typically good student starts ignoring assignments and cutting classes may indicate a student is in distress.
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. Research suggests that the abuse of substances plays a role in the majority of completed suicides, especially drugs that act as depressants (e.g., alcohol).
- Withdrawal from people and previously enjoyed activities. Depressed and suicidal students often isolate themselves, even from their friends and family. Even when they are in the middle of a group of friends, they may feel psychologically isolated and alone. Activities they used to enjoy no longer excite them, since the world of a suicidal student tends to get more and more limited, more and more constricted.
- Changes in eating patterns (e.g., loss of or increased appetite) and/or sleeping habits (e.g., insomnia or oversleeping). Changes in both eating and sleeping patterns are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety disorders that increase the risk of suicide.
- Changes in personality (e.g., more noticeably sad, irritable, anxious, indecisive, apathetic, etc.). A sudden change in personality or dramatic mood swings in which a student becomes sullen, withdrawn, or angry without apparent reason may suggest that personal problems are overwhelming the person's coping abilities, with suicide seen as an option to end the distress.
- Has experienced the loss of a close family member or friend to suicide. Research suggests that suicidal behavior is much higher among people who have first degree relatives or close friends who have taken their own life through suicide.
Myths and Facts About Suicide
Myth: Suicide typically happens without warning.
Fact: Most people who attempt or commit suicide give some indication of their intentions.
Myth: Suicidal people want to die.
Fact: Suicidal people are typically ambivalent about dying and will often seek help immediately after attempting to harm themselves. Part of them desires to stay alive in the hope that their distress will end and their lives will improve in the future.
Myth: Asking people about suicidal intentions will "put the idea into their heads" and increase the risk of an attempt.
Fact: Asking direct, caring questions encourages emotional ventilation and shows that someone cares and is willing to help.
Myth: All suicidal people are depressed.
Fact: Depression is often associated with suicidal feelings, but not all people who kill themselves are noticeably depressed. Paradoxically, an observed improvement in mood may be attributable to the person having decided to "solve" their problems by committing suicide.
Myth: There is no correlation between drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.
Fact: Alcohol, drugs, and suicide often go hand in hand. Even people who do not typically drink or use drugs may use substances shortly before killing themselves.
Myth: Suicide is most common around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Fact: Research suggests that suicide peaks in the spring. The reasons are likely complex but seem related to heightened distress over the contrast between the awakening springtime world and the experience of a bleak inner life. College students may be especially vulnerable during this period due to the build up of academic stress.
Myth: Once someone attempts suicide, that person will always be suicidal.
Fact: If the person receives the proper support and assistance, he or she is normally able to manage life successfully and to experience no further suicidal action.
Myth: Mental health professionals are the only people who can help a suicidal person.
Fact: Professional counseling is very important in reducing the risk of suicide, but nonprofessionals also play an important role in detection and early intervention. It is important that students, faculty, and staff who may interact with a suicidal student (i.e., everyone) know what to do in such circumstances.
C.A.R.E. - Suggestions for Helping A Suicidal Student
C - Show that you Care
- Work to remain calm. It is normal for the topic of suicide to evoke anxiety and apprehension, even in experienced mental health counselors. It may help to remember that you are responsible for the process (e.g., assisting the student in seeking help from a professional), not the outcome (e.g., solving the student's problems).
- Be a good listener. Listening to the student is more important than coming up with the "right thing" to say. Stop talking. Show that you are paying attention. Maintain eye contact, don't interrupt, and nod when appropriate. Also, check out your understanding of what the student is saying. You might say something like, "Let me see if I understand . . ." and then paraphrase for the person what you've heard them say to you.
- Be non-judgmental. It is typically not helpful to debate whether suicide is right or wrong, moral or immoral, or to lecture the person on the value of life. These actions may cause the person to shut down and stop talking with you. Remember, your primary goal is to have the person openly share thoughts and feelings with you so that you can better understand his or her situation and secure needed help.
- State directly that you care about the person. Talk about your feelings and your concerns. You might say to the person, "I'm concerned about you...about how you feel" or "You mean a lot to me and I want to help" or "I'm on your side...we'll get through this together." The person may not appear to appreciate or even hear what you say in the moment, but these statements may have an important and lasting impact in ways that are not immediately noticeable.
A - Ask Calmly and Frankly About Suicide
After telling and showing the person that you care, the next thing you need to do to help a potentially suicidal student is to ask about suicide. In the "Suicide Myths" section of this web site, you learned that asking about suicide will not put the idea into a person's head but actually decreases the risk by providing the person an opportunity to talk about their distress.
- "Has it gotten so bad that you thought about suicide/killing yourself?" It is important that you ask calmly and directly about suicide. Your frankness will communicate to the person that you care and that it is safe to talk about this "taboo" subject with you.
- Ask follow-up questions, such as:
"Have you thought about how you would do it?"
"Do you have access to what you would need to carry out your plan?"
"Have you ever tried to hurt or kill yourself in the past?"
"Are you able to see things getting better in the future?"
The risk of suicide increases if the person (1) has a specific plan and the means to carry it out, (2) has made past suicide attempts, and (3) feels helpless and hopeless about the future.
R - Refer the Person to the Counseling Center/Varner House
Once you've asked about suicide and the person confirms that this is, indeed, a concern, you then enter the third part of the C.A.R.E. process. Your goal now is to get them into the hands of a mental health professional. For most students, the best initial referral option is JMU's Counseling Center. Located in Varner House by the statue of James Madison, the Counseling Center provides a variety of free, confidential services to assist a suicidal student and others who are concerned about him or her.
You might say something like "Let's talk to someone who can help you feel better. . . Let's get in touch with the folks at the Counseling Center/Varner House right now."
- Remember, your role is not to take on the person's problems or to provide counseling. Your primary goal should be to get the suicidal person into the care of the mental health specialists in Varner House. Here's how:
- Call the Counseling Center at 540-568-6552 between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, or come to Varner House. To ensure a quick response to these types of emergencies, the Counseling Center reserves a limited number of crisis hours each day on counselors' schedules.
- After 5 pm, over weekends, or when there is imminent danger, call the Office of Public Safety at 540-568-6911. The dispatcher will gather information about the situation and, if necessary, contact the Counseling Center on-call counselor.
- Public Safety should also be your first call when there is imminent risk of harm to the person for example if he or she is intoxicated, violent, or unconscious.
- Do not leave the person alone. JMU faculty, staff, and students often escort students in crisis to the Counseling Center to provide comfort and reassurance, and this type of support is critical with acutely suicidal students. It is also important to remove firearms, drugs, sharp objects, and anything else that could be used in an impulsive suicide attempt. However, if you feel in danger of being harmed by the person, leave the area and call Public Safety at 540-568-6911.
- Let the individual know that Counseling Center services are free and confidential. Suicidal students are often concerned about the cost of receiving crisis services and, even more commonly, about who will know about their situation.
- Remind the individual that the decision to seek help is a courageous, mature choice. Because of the stigma that is still associated with mental health issues, people often mistakenly see going to counseling as a sign of weakness. To counter this belief, frame the decision to seek counseling as a mature choice which suggests that the person is not running away from their problems.
- Follow up with the person after the appointment. The counseling process is often most difficult at the very beginning, particularly for suicidal students in crisis, and your follow up support may help to get the person over this initial hurdle.
- Do not fall into the "confidentiality trap". Once you believe that a student is at risk of committing suicide, you must never agree to keep this information secret or confidential. The student may say, "You're making this worse than it already is," but despite any protest by the student, you must relay information about the situation to the Counseling Center, Public Safety, Residence Life, or some other responsible professional party. One helpful strategy is to point out the bind in which the suicidal student is placing you. You might say, "On one hand, you're expressing these serious desires to end your life, and on the other hand, you're basically asking me to ignore what you're telling me. Do you see the bind that puts me in? If you were in my situation, what would you do?" Whatever you do, do not keep a secret that may cost a life.
- If the person refuses to seek help, contact the Counseling Center, Public Safety, or Residence Life. If all else fails, you may have to take a more assertive, even authoritarian, approach. You might say something like, "When a person tells me things like you have today, I feel obligated as someone who cares about you to do all that I can to stop you from hurting yourself." If the situation occurs during a weekday, you should call the Counseling Center or come to Varner House and ask for assistance. After normal working hours and on weekends, you should contact Public Safety.
E - Encourage Hope for the Future
Now that you have expressed your caring, asked about suicide, and referred the person to a mental health professional, the final step of helping a suicidal student is to encourage them to begin developing some positive expectations for their future. Suicidal people tend to share a common mindset that is characterized by overly negative views of the world, themselves, and their future. These include:
"I will never feel better, life will always be awful, I will always be in pain."
"I can't do anything to improve my situation. I am helpless and hopeless."
"I can't change my past, but I can't live with it either."
"I am so tired, I have to get some relief, some rest, an escape."
"I do not deserve to live. I contribute nothing. I am unlovable."
"I have no control over anything -- except this."
"I want to be missed by someone."
"I want someone to know how much I hurt."
These thoughts are often accepted without any challenge or debate, and thus suicidal people see them as true and unchangeable. Your goal is to begin to help the person challenge some of these automatic thoughts and to instill some reality-based hope that the future will be brighter.
- Don't debate the person about the right to die. In your effort to be helpful, don't argue with a student to try to convince him or her that suicide is wrong, immoral, or illegal. Because suicidal people frequently feel out of control in many important areas of their lives, they will often vigorously defend their perceived right to remain in control of whether or not they will continue living. Once the student feels that he or she can retain this power, they will often be more open to considering other alternatives.
- Don't make statements that blame the student or dismiss the pain he or she feels. For example, in an effort to "snap" the person out of being suicidal, you may be tempted to say things like "You're just feeling sorry for yourself" or "Other people have a lot more to worry about than you do." These kinds of statements are likely to cause the person to shut down and withdraw.
- Work to frame suicide as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Remind the person that crises and problems are almost always temporary. Problems are solved, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur.
- Offer alternative solutions. The intense emotional pain they're feeling frequently blinds suicidal students to alternative solutions to their problems. Alternatives include going to counseling, taking medication to reduce the acute distress the person is experiencing, and engaging in spiritual/religious practices.
- Explore and reinforce the person's reasons for living. Reasons for living can help sustain a person in pain. Victor Frankl, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, noted that a person who has "a why" (a reason for his or her life) can live with almost any "how". Family ties, love of art or nature, religion, pets, and dreams for the future are just a few of the many aspects of life that provide meaning and gratification but which can be obscured by the emotional pain of a suicidal person.
Dear Incoming Students and Parents,JMU's Counseling Center has a "New Student Support Program" to assist students with previous or existing mental health concerns successfully adjust to their new college environment. The Program offers incoming students and their parents the opportunity for a 30-minute consultation with a Counseling Center staff member. During this consultation, the counselor will review your individual situation with you and help you to determine how your counseling and/or medication needs might be met at JMU or in the Harrisonburg community. Possible recommendations include but are not limited to:
- Suggesting an intake appointment to become a client of the Counseling Center. If not already provided, the counselor may suggest that the student request that his/her previous treatment provider(s) send a treatment summary to the Counseling Center.
- Making a referral to a local community agency or private practitioner. Given the Counseling Center's short-term focus our services are not sufficient to meet the needs of some students, and a local referral may be in a student's best interests.
- Suggesting that you continue receiving services from your current treatment providers. To help ensure future well-being and success, students should continue with their prescribed therapeutic regimens, whether it be counseling, medication, or both. In particular, students should make arrangements to maintain the necessary supply of their medication while away at school.
A link to the online application form for the New Student Support Program is provided at the bottom of this page. This form gives students and parents the opportunity (1) to briefly describe themselves and their physical/mental health history and (2) to indicate whether they would like a consultation with a Counseling Center staff member or would simply like the information they have provided to be kept by the Counseling Center for future reference. Completing and submitting this form does not establish the student as a client of the Counseling Center but merely indicates the desire for further contact.
In conclusion, we are here to support your efforts towards a successful first semester and future career at James Madison University. Please accept our invitation to take advantage of the New Student Support Program and all of the other services and programs offered by the Counseling Center.I want to enroll in the New Student Support Program
The following information is designed to provide JMU's faculty with appropriate, effective, and legally sound principles for dealing with disruptive student behavior, especially that which occurs in the classroom. The goal is to help faculty more confidently, fairly, and safely address incidents of disruption in a manner that discourages such behavior while retaining the dignity of the learning environment.
Disruptive Behavior on the Rise
On college campuses, the term "disruptive behavior" is most commonly associated with large-scale demonstrations and protests. There is, however, another form of misconduct on campus which is seldom reported by the media but which causes individual faculty members considerably more personal turmoil: disruptive behavior in the classroom.
The climate of higher education has changed over the past few decades, and faculty are now faced with serious issues of disrespectful and inappropriate classroom behavior that previously were of little concern. Unfortunately, instructors frequently fail to address the disruptive behavior of students, because they may (1) be unsure how to handle the situation, (2) fear legal or physical retaliation from the student, and/or (3) conclude that reporting the disruptive behavior will cause emotional pain to an already fragile or unstable person. Failure to address disruptive behavior, however, is likely to encourage further disturbance, as it sends the message that such behavior is not problematic and that university personnel are indifferent to it.
Examples of Disruptive Behavior
Disruptive behavior is defined as repeated, continuous, and/or multiple student behaviors that hinder the ability of instructors to teach and students to learn. Common examples of disruptive behaviors include, but are not limited to:
- Eating in class
- Monopolizing classroom discussions
- Failing to respect the rights of other students to express their viewpoints
- Carrying on distracting side conversations
- Constant questions or interruptions which interfere with the instructor's presentation
- Overt inattentiveness (e.g., sleeping, reading the paper, using laptops for non-class-related activities)
- Creating excessive noise with papers, book bags, etc.
- Entering class late or leaving early
- Use of cell phones in the classroom
- Inordinate or inappropriate demands for time and attention
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., noticeably offensive body odor)
More extreme examples of disruptive behavior include, but are not limited to:
- Use of profanity or pejorative language
- Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
- Harassment (e.g., use of "fighting words," stalking)
- Threats to harm oneself or others
- Physical violence (e.g., shoving, grabbing, assault, use of weapons)
An Ounce of Prevention...
Perhaps the best thing faculty can do to address disruptive student behavior is to create an environment in which it is unlikely to occur. For example, an instructor should:
- When class size permits, learn and use the names of your students.
- Serve as a model by demonstrating appropriate, respectful, and responsible behavior in all interactions with students.
- Use the class syllabus to inform students in writing of standards and expectations (e.g., respect, courtesy, timeliness, etc.) for classroom conduct and of possible consequences for disruptive behavior.
- Devote time during the first class to review this information in the syllabus.
Responding to Disruptive Behavior
Some general suggestions for dealing with disruptive student behavior are:
- Deal with the disruptive behavior immediately. Ignoring the behavior will likely cause it to increase.
- A general word of caution directed to the class rather than at an identified student may effectively deter the disruptive behavior.
- Make direct eye contact with the student engaged in the disruptive behavior or ask a question of someone sitting close to him/her.
- Work against the human tendency to take the disruptive behavior personally. The behavior usually has little to do with you, and you are simply the unfortunate person who must address it.
- If the student's behavior is irritating, but not particularly disruptive, consider talking with the student privately after class to remind him/her of your expectations for classroom behavior. If you feel unsafe being alone with the student for some reason, request that a colleague or your department chair attend the meeting.
- If it is necessary to deal with a student's behavior during class, you should calmly but firmly inform the student that the behavior is disruptive and ask that he/she stop it. Example: "Your use of your cell phone is bothering me and disrupting the class. Please end your conversation now and refrain from in-class phone calls in the future."
- If the disruptive behavior continues during either the present or some future class, warn the student (perhaps in private) that such behavior may result in student disciplinary action. Example: "I've already warned you about talking when I am speaking to the class. If you disrupt the class again in this manner, you will be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs."
- If the student continues the disruptive behavior despite being given a warning, the student should then be asked to leave the classroom. Following the class, the instructor should contact the Office of Judicial Affairs and provide pertinent information about the student's behavior. The Office of Judicial Affairs will determine if a charge will be placed against the student.
- If the student refuses to leave the classroom after being instructed to do so, s/he should be informed that this refusal is a separate instance of disruptive behavior subject to additional penalties.
- If the student continues to refuse to leave the classroom, the instructor may choose to adjourn class for the day.
- Keep a log of the date, time, and nature of all incidents of disruptive behavior and any meetings you have with the student. Document incidents and meetings immediately, while specifics and details are still fresh in your memory.
- Keep your department chair informed as the situation develops. Ask for guidance and support from her/him and from colleagues.
What if a Student Reacts Negatively or Says He/She Has a Disability?
When a faculty member addresses disruptive behavior in the classroom, students sometimes accuse the faculty member, subtly or directly, of being rigid, unfair, insensitive, and/or uncaring. Such accusations often trouble faculty members who (probably accurately) perceive themselves as being flexible, fair, sensitive, and caring individuals. To provide support to and a rationale for the decision to address disruptive classroom behavior, faculty should remind themselves that college mental health professionals regard setting and enforcing reasonable behavioral limits with students as not just appropriate but as highly desirable.
Regarding the issue of disabilities, it is important to be aware that even such conditions as physical or psychological disabilities are not considered a legitimate excuse for disruptive behavior on a college campus. Prevailing law recognizes that students with disabilities can be held to the same reasonable behavioral standards as individuals without disabilities, even if a violation of institutional rules is the result of a disability. This practice accords each student with the dignity of a presumption that they have at least some personal accountability for their actions.
Possible Sanctions for Disruptive Student Behavior
The Student Handbook specifies the minimum level of conduct expected of every JMU student. These standards are higher than those imposed on all citizens by civil and criminal law and serve to foster an environment in which learning and scholarship can flourish. Students who are found responsible for policy violations due to their disruptive behavior face Judicial Affairs sanctions including, but not limited to:
- Fines and/or restitution.
- Sanctioned programs specific to the incident and the needs of the individual. A variety of programs are in place to address alcohol, drugs, values, civic responsibility, and service learning.
- Disciplinary probation: Such status indicates that any future policy violations may result in more severe sanctions and/or suspension from the University.
- Dismissal from course: The instructor may dismiss the student from the course. The department chair should be notified of the dismissal. The student has the right to appeal this decision to the department chair.
- Suspension: The student is prohibited from enrolling in classes or being on University premises for a specified period of time. Readmission is conditional upon reapplication and approval.
- Expulsion from the University: The student is permanently prohibited from enrolling in classes or being on University premises.
Campus Resources to Help You Deal with Disruptive Students
Counseling Center (Varner House, 540-568-6552)
Counseling Center staff members provide consultation and support for faculty/staff who are dealing with a disruptive and/or emotionally disturbed student. Psychologists and counselors can aid in the development of a more comprehensive understanding of the student's problem behavior and in the design of effective intervention strategies. You may encourage the student to voluntarily seek assistance at the Counseling Center, but the Center does not provide services to students who are coerced or mandated into treatment.
Judicial Affairs (Frederickson Hall, 540-568-6218)
The Office of Judicial Affairs administers sanctions to students whose disruptive behavior violates the policies found in the Student Handbook. Sanctions serve to demonstrate to the student that s/he is responsible for the behavior and that disruptive behavior has predictable consequences. Further, educational sanctions address ways to prevent the behavior from happening again in the future.
Office of Public Safety (540-568-6913) (In an emergency, 540-568-6911)
While not typically involved in most situations of disruptive student behavior, the University Police Department is the primary source of immediate support when the disruptive student engages in threats or actions to harm her/himself or someone else.
Coping with Misconduct in the College Classroom: A Practical Model by Gerald Armada (1999). Asheville, N.C.: College Administration Publications, Inc.
Boren Scholarship winner Justen Silva develops the skill to make critical assessments in crisis situations
By Rosemary Girard
At JMU, Intelligence Analysis majors learn concepts and methods to analyze complex situations in the real world. Whether they are determining potential outcomes in Syria or focusing on national security issues, intelligence analysts are trained to make critical assessments with little time to prepare and with a great deal at stake.
But buckling under pressure isn't a problem for Justen Silva, a junior Intelligence Analysis major and Modern Foreign Languages minor. As one of JMU's top-tier students, Silva is a Second Century Scholar, a Boren Scholarship winner, a club soccer player, a fitness manager at the University Recreation Center, and a go-to student for undergraduate research projects in his field.
The Boren Scholarship is a national-level award given to undergraduate students for traveling to underrepresented study abroad countries and who are advancing their skills in languages that are less commonly taught in the U.S. After competing against hundreds of applicants, Silva was recognized for his outstanding credentials and was awarded a scholarship to study in Jordan during the summer of 2013, where he advanced five levels in his Arabic proficiency.
'[We pledged] to speak in Arabic 24/7... by the end of the program, I was able to communicate with my teachers, my peers, and the locals on many different topics.'
"We had to sign a language pledge saying that we'd only speak in Arabic 24/7," Silva explained. "For the first two weeks, it was difficult and frustrating. I had a lot of thoughts that I couldn't express. But by the end of the program, I was able to communicate with my teachers, my peers, and the locals on many different topics."
What's remarkable, though, is that Silva only began his Arabic training at JMU recently, where he started the new language from scratch. Still, his Arabic language skills have improved at such a rapid pace since then that he is now able to help other JMU students who are less experienced.
For Silva, studying abroad in Jordan was not simply an exciting semester overseas--it was a peek into his life after graduation, where his interest in the Middle East might dictate the course of his career; it was a chance to experience the cultural context that is so vital to thorough intelligence analysis; and it solidified his work ethic and view of education. "I saw kids in Jordan who were yearning for education--kids who had become fluent in English on their own by watching American television," Silva explained. "I thought, 'Why can't we learn their language too?'"
Now that he's back at JMU, Silva continues to up the ante on his academic rigor as he works hand-in-hand with professors and fellow students on complex projects. In March, Silva will be presenting research at the Five Eyes Analytic Training Conference, an international conference representing the alliance of intelligence agencies between the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
'A partner and I are working on Middle Eastern-based terrorism and the large spread of that we're seeing into Africa...[gaining] insight as to how it will progress by 2030.'
"A partner and I are working on Middle Eastern-based terrorism and the large spread of that we're seeing into Africa," Silva explained. "We're observing trends and providing some insight as to how it will progress by 2030."
Simultaneously, Silva is working closely with JMU professor Dr. Tim Walton, a former CIA analyst who was responsible for much of the intelligence during the Bosnian conflict. Recently, the CIA declassified about 300 of the documents, which will be available for examination during JMU's "War to Peace" conference held in March. For future analysts like Silva, this opportunity provides a chance to evaluate intelligence efforts with the advantage of hindsight.
Amid his schoolwork, scholarship applications, research projects, fitness management position at UREC, and club soccer practices, motivation is paramount. For Silva, it involves a healthy balance of doing work and enjoying himself. "I'm constantly thinking about my future and what I want to do," he said. "You just have to be willing to put in some Friday and Saturday nights at the library. It's worth the sacrifice."
It comes from a selfless mindset as well. Describing his inspiration, Justen Silva explained simply, "I'm in an ideal situation, so I don't have an excuse. I have to do the most with my potential. I'm just trying to keep up with everyone else here at JMU."
Learn more about the Madison Experience.
You may have seen Tyler Rich traveling campus on his Segway or hanging out at his favorite spot, the Carrier Starbucks. He’s been featured in the yearbook, the local newspaper, and widely recognized across campus. In just a year and a half of being a student at JMU, Tyler has made his mark in the community.
"Tyler Rich, you inspire me. You don't even know it,"
an anonymous student wrote in chalk on the Commons.
Last year, Tyler got to see firsthand of the effect he has had on other people. The Commons area occasionally has events where students can write in chalk words, advice, or inspirations on the walkway. “Tyler Rich, you inspire me. You don’t even know it,” an anonymous student wrote in chalk. “I go about my day not knowing the effect I have on other people,” Tyler said, stating that the chalk note left him humbled.
One of Tyler’s most gratified achievements at James Madison University is being a Peer Access Advocate. A PAA is a student at JMU who is registered at the Office of Disability Services and gives guidance and support to other students.
“The Segway changed the way I get around as I was no longer limited by my stamina and could stand taller and navigate better.”
Tyler was born with cerebral palsy, which is a condition that affects part of the brain that controls balance and coordination. In December 2007, Tyler got a Segway to assist his mobility. “The Segway changed the way I get around as I was no longer limited by my stamina and could stand taller and navigate better,” he explained, since he used a walker beforehand.
In his position as a Peer Access Advocate, he has had the opportunity to have a voice on campus by presenting to the Student Senate on accessibility around campus. His favorite part of being a Peer Access Advocate, however, is helping other students.
Tyler is a senior majoring in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication, with concentration in technical and scientific, and will be graduating this May. On moving on after JMU, he says “It will be sad to leave JMU, if it was warmer for 6 months out of the year, I’d stay here.” After graduation, he plans to move back to the sunshine state to pursue a career as a freelance writer, specifically for an outdoor publication.
If you would like to make an appointment with a Peer Access Advocate, please stop by Wilson 107 or call the Office of Disability Services.
Thanks to generous donations from TEK Systems, Carahsoft, and SAP, the marketing department has developed and implemented a professional sales lab for its students. Located on the first floor of Zane Showker Hall, the professional sales lab is a soundproof conference room that can be accessed by four different classrooms.
First introduced in the fall semester of 2013, this lab allows students to develop selling skills by conducting student-to-student role-plays. In the lab, there is a dual-screen computer, a video camera, microphones, and a large conference table and chairs. The recording equipment, linked to classroom projectors through video conferencing software such as Lync, allows the students in the classroom to view the students role playing in the professional sales lab. While watching, students are asked to complete forms that evaluate their peers on their professionalism, level of engagement, use of materials, and attitude while working in the professional sales lab.
The professional sales lab is a safe environment where students can implement lessons learned in class during situations that closely mirror real-world, professional interaction. According to senior Marketing student, Alex Grizzell, “The sales lab is definitely helpful. You know the class is watching you, but it takes a lot of the pressure off of you by not having to see or hear them. The lab enables us to simulate a real sales pitch without any of the distractions that usually occur in a classroom.” Alex and senior Marketing student Rachel Sturm are shown working in the lab in the top photo.
Student review of their role-plays makes it easier for them to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their selling technique. Marketing professor Dr. Joe Derby explains, “The ability for students to critically analyze their sales role-play is one of the most valuable resources provided by the professional sales lab.”
For students preparing to graduate, the professional sales lab is a boon. The lab provides sponsoring recruiters the chance to see students in action, and students’ valuable interaction time with hiring companies. Furthermore, the lab’s distance communication technology provides for increased student – recruiter meeting frequency, including the capability for students to role-play with sales recruiters without either having to travel.
The professional sales lab is one of many tools being used to prepare students for marketing careers and is an example of the College of Business’ focus on experiential learning.
Joe Balsamo conducts cutting-edge research on the development of the auditory system
By Martha Graham
Joe Balsamo looks at science as a team sport. And next summer, he will team up with a lab at the University of Virginia to conduct cutting edge research into neuronal signaling mechanisms.
The junior biotechnology and pre-med major, who grew up in New Jersey playing hockey, is the recipient of the 2013 Hillcrest Research Scholarship. The scholarship provides $5,000 for an Honors student to conduct an off-campus summer enrichment experience following the junior year.
With his scholarship stipend, Balsamo will assist in the lab of Dr. Christopher Deppmann, assistant professor of biology at U.Va. Balsamo will use microfluidic devices to study neuronal interaction in vitro. What he learns he'll bring back to JMU — like any good team member would do.
"My part," he says, "is to learn as much as possible and bring that experience back to Dr. Gabriele's lab. Science is about collaboration," Balsamo says, "and this experience is a win-win for everyone."
"If we can figure out how hearing develops, we can discover ways to better address hearing deficits and hearing loss."
Being a leader in lab and working with biology professor Mark Gabriele, Balsamo has found the direct mentorship he desired in his undergraduate experience and values the open sharing of ideas and "back and forth" discussions about science.
"Part of being a leading researcher is being proactive to learn new techniques, and to then share that knowledge openly with others," Balsamo says he learned from Gabriele.
Balsamo currently spends up to seven hours a week in the lab where Gabriele studies the development of the auditory system prior to the onset of hearing in mice. "My research project," Balsamo says, "specifically deals with connections between the auditory system and the somatosensory [touch] system."
"If we can figure out how hearing develops," he says, "we can discover ways to better address hearing deficits and hearing loss."
The kind of team approach to research requires good communication — something that Balsamo says can break down between medical practitioners and academics. He'd like to see that change, which is why his goal it to acquire both an M.D. and a Ph.D. Ultimately, he says, he would like to study pediatric cardiology.
But for now, he's focusing on what's just ahead — and what he can learn for his research team.
To learn more about the Honors Program: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/
To learn more about Hillcrest Scholarships: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/current-students/scholarships/hillcrest/index.shtml
“What I am learning in school coincides perfectly with what I do at work; I use it every day,” says Blake Wenger, a current Innovation MBA (iMBA) student at JMU.
Wenger earned his mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech and started working as an engineer at Howell Metal in New Market, Virginia before joining JMU’s iMBA cohort 5 in August of 2013.
After interning and landing a job at the global manufacturing corporation, Howell Metal, which was recently purchase by Mueller, Wenger soon became interested in the business side of the company. At work, he branched out into environmental supervising, managing safety programs, and handling financial reports.
Since Wenger had a new found interest in business, he decided that it would make sense to pursue an MBA. His boss at Howell Metal, Ashley Driver, graduated from the iMBA program at JMU in May 2013. Driver spoke highly of the program, and encouraged Wenger to consider it.
Now a student, Wenger appreciates the help and support of the faculty in the program as well as his fellow classmates, noting “The social networking is very good. I have met people with different backgrounds from different areas. This networking opens up a lot of possibilities for people, and helps us make valuable contacts. We also share real world experiences.” In class, Wenger is studying the lean manufacturing and Six Sigma process which he follows daily at his job. He also uses class studies in operations and supply chain management to help refine his work’s production cycle times.
Wenger knows he made the right decision in getting his MBA and that it has helped him become a more marketable, flexible, and valuable employee. “I have been able to immediately use everything I’ve learned. Before, I had broad knowledge of a lot of areas, the MBA program has given me more focus and detail,” explains Wenger, “Now, instead of just knowing how to complete a capital expenditure report, I understand the background and why it’s important.”
As Wenger explains, he believed that he would be able to apply what he learned in class at his work, but didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. The Innovated MBA program at JMU focuses on leadership and Wenger adds, “I would recommend the program to others. You’re not just learning numbers; you’re learning overall management principles. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into business management.”
Wenger is expected to graduate in May of 2015.
Dr. David Stringham, professor of music education and director of JMU’s jazz band, is working hard to engage our community through music. Recently, Stringham helped create MUS 498: Music and Human Services at JMU. Taken for academic credit, the course allows students to select an offsite practicum for music outreach. One such practicum is the iPad Music as Therapy program that pairs JMU students with oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy at the Hahn Cancer Center at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital Medical Center.
One JMU student involved with the program at RMH is interested in doing research on the impact of iPad music on patients. As Stringham believes, “there are those healing, wellness, therapeutic aspects of music that I think we can help people draw out themselves.” He would like to take the research one step further and explore “what it’s like at 19 to sit next to someone with a life-threatening illness and bond over music.”
The iPad Music as therapy program is one of many programs established as part of the JMU-RMH Collaborative, and it’s one that Janet McArthur, Director of Oncology, Hospice and Palliative Care at RMH, hopes to see “grow and continue.”
Stringham expresses, “Music is part of what makes us human and how we’re designed to communicate and express and experience things. We learn music in the same way we learn language: through a system of immersion.” Stringham was immersed in music at a young age; he grew up in a musical family and began taking piano lessons at age four.
Now, Stringham tries to nurture what students instinctively have to offer and is fascinated by “just watching kids and what they do that is inherently musical.” Stringham spends part of his time as a professor of music education working with pre-service teachers to “get them comfortable in their own musical skin,” and he stresses the importance of learning to “improvise, compose, and play something by ear.” Not only does Stringham help students cultivate these skills and teach music, he also prepares them to be performers. As Stringham states, “If they are an instrumentalist, I encourage them to sing in a choir, learn to play the guitar, play in a jazz ensemble or take vocal or jazz arranging.”
Stringham himself is not a stranger to the classroom or the stage, he earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in music from the Eastman School of Music where he played in jazz and wind ensembles and sang in choirs. He has also taught instrumental music in both middle and high school settings and has taught jazz ensembles, young composers, and small-group instrumental lessons as a K-12 educator.
A native of Western New York, Stringham enjoys the Valley, JMU, and being the change by always finding new ways to “expand music into people’s lives.”
Three students, Courtney Herb (SCOM), Lauren Holder (SCOM and MATH) and Alison Steed (Political Science) are exploring ways to research, design, facilitate and assess public conversations about issues that are both complex and value-laden. Their interest stems from their work in the Honors program Civic Engagement track and their experiences in Professor Lori Britt’s course that teaches students how to create and facilitate public processes.
The students are working under the direction of Britt and Political Science Professor, Rob Alexander, who both engage in scholarly and applied scholarship about deliberative democracy, an area of study reflective of recent work on behalf of local governments and civil society organizations to re-engage citizens in public issues. Deliberative democracy is based upon political theories suggesting that healthy democracies rely upon that citizen involvement in public problem solving. Deliberative democracy in practice seeks to create spaces for citizens to learn about community issues, practice ethical reasoning, hone democratic attitudes, and contribute to improved community problem solving.
Britt, Alexander, and the honors students are all part of an initiative started last year called 4C: Campus Community Civic Collaborative. The initiative seeks to train undergraduate and graduate students in design and facilitation skills so that they may become leaders in civic engagement. Between on-campus classes and additional training opportunities, Britt and Alexander teach students the hands-on skills to help groups, organizations, and communities have productive conversations that are grounded in theories of public dialogue and public deliberation. These theories are interdisciplinary and influenced by theories of interpersonal and group communication, democratic process, and conflict negotiation. Students learn how to ask questions that help public dialogue participants explore the values associated with public issues and to move from taking positions about issues to identifying their interests. In this way, space becomes created for finding common ground and for arriving at sustainable, community-based solutions to public problems.
Herb, Holder and Steed serve as 4C Associates and have already facilitated 4C-sponsored conversations about guns, security and public life, values and public choices, and shared visions for public places that bring people together and reflect our community’s diversity.
This innovative approach to implementing an Honor’s project reflects strong CAL student initiative as well as Britt and Alexander’s broader research and teaching collaborations that include an examination of the relationship between a community’s deliberative culture and its related ability to engage in public dialogue, the evolution of transdisciplinary working groups focused on place-based planning processes (with Engineering professor Elise Barrella), and an expansion of 4C training workshops to include graduate students in the MPA and SCOM graduate programs. By building bridges across disciplines, between academic units, and from gown to town, Britt, Alexander, and their students intend to produce new ways of engaging with our disciplines, our communities, and with one another.
Individual attention is key at JMU
By Lee Ward, director of JMU Career and Academic Planning
Advising is one-on-one at JMU.
College is not just about which classes to take; it's about a student's whole life. Your college experience is really about one decision—preparing you for your future. And making decisions in concert with one another, not separately as many other universities require.
'JMU's integrated model provides students with a coherent set of resources and life skills that can help them succeed.'
That's why JMU's career and academic planning team combines the process of academic advising with the process of career development, job search and alumni networking, a distinct rarity for a school as large as JMU. This integrated model provides students with a coherent set of resources and life skills that can help them succeed.
JMU's freshman advising philosophy is incredibly more powerful than just deciding which classes to take.
It's also about the why. Our freshman advisers help students navigate what skills a class may provide them for use in a future career. We show students how to connect interests and skills and student experiences with their futures.
And many alumni help us give detailed career information and advice to our students. Our students learn what kinds of out-of-class experiences best complement their academics—from internships, community service, student organizations, leadership roles and student work experiences.
We want students' academic choices and their out-of-class experience decisions to be meaningful and intentional—meaning that they have value and that they lead to something that's important to the student. That could be the Peace Corps as opposed to a high-powered corporation.
We teach students to prepare themselves to get to where they want to go.
If you could watch our advisers and alumni work with students, you would see a very different kind of interaction than you see at a lot of universities.
Our advising is one-on-one. The National Academic Advising Association has recognized that philosophy by naming one of our freshman advisers, Carroll Ward, as a 2013 Outstanding Adviser.
Sharing JMU's approach to academic advising
National Academic Advising Association 2013 Outstanding Adviser Carroll Ward is a nursing professor and freshman adviser. She shares more on JMU's approach to freshman advising.
JMU academic advising enables students to translate learning into making meaningful decisions about the future.
Madison: At JMU, advising is more than helping a student choose a major, it's about helping them plan their future. Explain this philosophy:
Ward: JMU is committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens, who lead productive and meaningful lives. JMU advising consists of a learning-centered approach to assist students in developing an educationally purposeful college plan and to determine the tools and resources to implement that plan. JMU academic advising enables students to translate this learning into making meaningful decisions about the future and to understand the importance of engaging in their community.
Madison: What are the top two pieces of advice that you tell every freshman, no matter their choice in major?
Ward: Focus on your role as a student. Academics are a priority and you are responsible for your own academic rigor. Purchase a planner and write down all of your assignments, exams, presentations, meetings and social activities. Also, you are ultimately responsible for your decisions and choices, so think about the consequences.
To learn more about the Madison Experience: Visit JMU
Professors have helped make her college career a success
By Jan Gillis (’07)
Michelle Amaya shares a moment with Professor Steven Reich, whose encouragement led to her service abroad experience in Bolivia.
Senior Michelle Amaya ('14) admits that four years ago it was a toss-up where she would go to college. She had been accepted to several schools, including JMU, and liked them all. JMU, however, offered avenues to "get plugged in" she says. Amaya chose JMU because she could enter as a Centennial Scholar and an Honors student. She knew she would receive mentorship and peer support through those programs.
Her instincts were right. She made close friends very quickly during her freshman year living in Shenandoah Hall in the Honors Living and Learning Center. "Everyone was very dedicated and serious, working hard to succeed in classes," she says. The group shared plenty of extracurricular activities as well. Like many other JMU Centennial Scholars, Amaya is a first-generation college student, but the scholarship program offered peer support and guidance for navigating campus life.
While Amaya, who grew up in Chesapeake Beach, Va., and El Salvador, enjoyed the ready kinship of her Honors classmates she found plenty of variety on Madison's campus. "People may say that JMU doesn't look that diverse," she says, "but it is extremely diverse in the way people think."
Coursework has been demanding. "It definitely has been more academically challenging than I expected," she says. She sums up her initiation to JMU academic life in one word—"humbling."
"I remember sitting in class and thinking, 'I'm not a chemistry major, how am I ever going to learn this?'" she says. She found out that chemistry professors were ready to help. "Dr. Mary Tam has been a mentor over these four years. I really did struggle with chemistry a lot, and she was always there. And, Dr. Kevin Caran was another of my favorite professors."
At the beginning of her college career, Amaya felt some consternation over her ambition to work in the medical field. "I was undecided between being a physician assistant or a doctor. I battled that for several semesters until I made the choice to commit to being a doctor. I realized that was my passion. I think I was just scared for awhile which led me to contemplate whether another career or path would be better."
JMU professors played a large role in developing her confidence and the drive to achieve her dream.
Dr. Sharon Babcock's anatomy class was Amaya's favorite. Babcock made it easy to put aside any trepidation as to subject matter. "I never dreaded going to class or all the things we had to learn," she says. "It was so much fun. Every time I left the class I felt inspired and really interested in what we were learning." Amaya particularly appreciated that Babcock acknowledged her students as professionals. "She always referred to us as anatomists, and she made us believe that we really were worthy of the title."
Another confidence-builder was history professor Steven Reich. Amaya credits Reich for encouraging her to apply for a Hillcrest Scholarship, awarded to outstanding sophomore honors students. When Amaya won the scholarship, she traveled to Bolivia on a global health internship to mentor orphaned children and shadow pediatric physicians. "The trip confirmed my call to serve in the medical field and allowed me to see the reward of the hard work I invested in my academic career," she says.
Now, when asked to contrast her pre-college expectations with the reality of her Madison academic experience, Amaya says, "JMU was academically challenging, but that's why I've been able to develop relationships with my professors. They've helped me out a lot in my struggles. It's not like I've been alone, it's just been more challenging."
To learn more about the Honors Program: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/
Learn more about the Hillcrest Scholarships: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/current-students/scholarships/hillcrest/index.shtml
By: Daniel Vieth
While other students may choose to spend their winter breaks relaxing before the beginning of a new semester, Brittany Rieckmann has chosen to help others by lending her expertise to a great program and the people of Northern Ghana. “I am more than excited to be a part of this learning experience!” she exclaimed. “I am especially looking forward to learning about another culture, to see how other people live. I think this experience will help me see a different perspective on life as well as give me more appreciation for how I live.” Rieckmann is a great example of how students at JMU can make an impact both locally and globally.
According to the World Health Organization, waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness and death in developing countries around the globe. Rieckmann has recently been selected to be a part of the Community Water Solutions’ Fellowship Program. As a fellow of this initiative, Rieckmann will be traveling to Tamale, Ghana to help women in the community establish a sustainable system that will provide clean and affordable water for upwards of 1,000 people. “I have always had a passion for making a difference and supporting those less fortunate than me,” Rieckmann explained. “This trip provides the added bonus of being able to combine my love of volunteering and engineering with experiencing a new culture!”In Africa alone, the lack of access to clean water results in the otherwise preventable deaths of nearly 700,000 people every year. The lack of resources also makes creating large scale water purification treatment systems unfeasible. Brittany Rieckmann, a freshman Engineering Student at JMU, has decided to help by spending her winter break in Ghana creating affordable and sustainable water purification systems.
Community Water Solutions (CWS) is a program that brings economical water treatment and home storage systems to the communities of Northern Ghana. In addition, CWS has also helped to establish local businesses that are designed to empower the women of Ghana by teaching them how to become successful and independent entrepreneurs. To date, CWS has launched 55 successful water treatment businesses, which are run by 110 women entrepreneurs serving over 30,000 people. These accomplishments would not have been possible without students like Rieckmann joining the CWS Fellowship Program.
The Fellowship Program acts as the groundwork team for CWS teaching and inspiring its members with philanthropic, leadership, and training experiences. According to the CWS website, the purpose of the fellowship is to educate its volunteers about the current global water crisis and inspire leadership, especially in the field of international development. “I decided this would be a good and challenging match for me,” Rieckmann stated, “I couldn’t resist applying!”
On the trip, Rieckmann will be working with a team of three other CWS fellows to both build the structures for the water storage tanks and provide training for the local women on how to properly manage the purification systems and sustain their businesses. “The trip will allow me to bring engineering skills out of the classroom and into the real world,” Rieckmann explained. “A lot of engineering is about problem solving [and] the Fellowship will allow me to see how a team will work together to provide the best water solution for the village we are responsible for.”
Community Water Solutions method for effectively treating the local water in Ghana, without the need for expensive drills or wells, involves adding alum and chlorine. These two chemicals help remove turbidity and disinfect the water respectively. The clean water is then stored in separate containers for each home, lessening the chances of cross contamination. “With the training provided by the CWS, the locals will become completely self-sufficient in treating all of their water by hand,” Rieckmann continued. Her team will have to accomplish these feats within three weeks all while overcoming language barriers and other difficulties. “The actions that will be required of me while on the trip will in turn help me to grow as a person and as a leader.”
Before Rieckmann can make the trip to Africa, however, she and the other CWS Fellows must raise $2,950 to cover the in-country expenses. She hopes to raise the funds online using Crowdrise. To help Rieckmann, raise the money for CWS, visit: (http://www.crowdrise.com/CWSolution/fundraiser/brittanyrieckmann )
Devin Buennemeyer ('16), physics major, Hamilton, Va.
By Rachel Dawson ('13)
Like other Dingledine Scholars, Buennemeyer makes community service part of her regular routine.
To call freshman physics major Devin Buennemeyer ('16) self-motivated is an understatement. On a pre-med track, Buennemeyer's physics concentration is biophysics, and she is a minoring in mathematics. Buennemeyer is one of five Class of 2016 full-ride Dingledine Scholars. "This scholarship has made my dreams become real," she says.
Academic rigor and community service
Dingledine Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement and leadership, and recipients are required to complete extra hours of community service. Dingledine Scholars meet regularly for peer support and networking, and according to Buennemeyer, strive to be involved and give back to the community. "Everyone is such a different person, but we all want to change the world," she says.
'This scholarship has made my dreams become real.'
Buennemeyer plans to attend medical school after graduating from JMU and work in rehabilitation or physical medicine. She dreams to establish a hospital in a developing nation.
Even though JMU is helping her reach her dreams, ironically Buennemeyer wasn't sure that JMU was the right fit. After attending the JMU Admissions program CHOICES, Buennemeyer chose JMU she says, "Because I thought the people here could become my friends and everyone here would be invested in my success."
Professors teach problem solving
The JMU physics department is small, and the one-on-one faculty time has given Buennemeyer the opportunity to work closely with professors and upperclassmen. And, she has formed a tight-knit community among fellow students. "Professors teach us to be problem-solvers," Buennemeyer says. "In physics, getting the right answer is one thing, but if you don't understand how you got that answer, you won't be able to duplicate it." William Chris Hughes is one of Buennemeyer's physics professors and her adviser. "He's an amazing teacher," Buennemeyer says. "If I don't understand something, he'll explain it in 18 different ways until I get it. He seems really invested in each and every student's success."
''Having students perform research is the ultimate method of teaching and learning science."
Hughes appreciates the personal investment in Buennemeyer as well. "Devin is an impressive young woman who is very focused yet not overbearing," he says. "In some cases, a student with her drive and achievement can be high maintenance in that they expect to be treated differently than the students for whom the material takes more effort. Devin seems to be very within herself and self-motivated toward her achievements."
Freshman research sets foundation
During spring semester Buennemeyer completed research on protein aggregation with biochemistry professor Gina MacDonald Handal and eight students. Buennemeyer was one of two freshmen on the research team.
"In my opinion the best way to learn science and develop critical thinking skills is to do science," Handal says. "Having students perform research is the ultimate method of teaching and learning science."
While Handal supervises and coaches her students, they are doing the hands-on research, documenting results, writing papers and getting their work published.
"Devin is an absolutely outstanding student," Handal says. "She is careful, insightful, creative, enthusiastic and hard working. I look forward to working with her over the next few years."
A constant self-motivator, Buennemeyer took one of her physics classes to the next level this semester—making it an honors course. She wrote a 10-page paper on battery storage and energy efficient alternatives to meet the honors requirements.
"Honors courses take what you learn in class and your homework to a new level because you must apply your knowledge," Buennemeyer explains.
One-on-one faculty time gives JMU students the opportunity to work closely with professors. Above, Buennemeyer confers with professor Shanil Virani.
Graduates find success
Physics professor Shanil Virani is pleased that JMU physics majors find success after JMU—in the workplace and in graduate schools and medical schools. "Our students graduate with very good critical-thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. They collaborate with faculty in the lab helping us make advances in our understanding of the universe," Virani says. "That is physics. Not being afraid of problems, not being afraid of numbers, not being afraid of trying different ideas and seeing what works, and sometimes just as importantly, what does not."
Buennemeyer says physics is a hard major, but it's rewarding. "It's the problem-solving techniques and the passion everyone has for what they're learning and teaching that encourages me to pursue my dreams," she says. "I see the professors pursuing their dreams and doing what they love and it shines through in the classroom and outside the classroom."
Want to learn more about the Madison Experience? Visit JMU.
Welcome to my little area on our brand new website! My plan is to use this area to highlight new discoveries, post exciting events coming to the JMU Planetarium, and to post my monthly column that is published in Harrisonburg Life.
If you haven't already done so, please add your name, email address and postal address to our new mailing list! By doing so, you will be the first to know when new events and new shows are coming to the Planetarium, whether our star party will take place or be cancelled because of weather, and of course to learn when registration opens for our popular summer Space Camps! You will also receive our yearly planetarium brochure with our Saturday show schedules!
We are losing darkness, losing the night. Here in the Valley, we no longer see the sky the way people saw it even 50 years ago. Does it even matter given our life at the dawn of the 21st century? Every year, we waste $110 billion on artificial light worldwide and produce 750 million unnecessary tons of CO2. New medical studies are demonstrating that light at night disrupts our sleep, confuses our circadian rhythms, and impedes the production of the hormone melatonin. In just one example, studies have shown that women who work the night shift have 1.5 to 2 times the rate of breast cancer then women who don't. Environmentally, our light at night is wreaking havoc. The Audubon Society estimates that in North America alone up to 1 billion birds die each year during their migration season. In short, our ever-increasing use of light at night is wasting our resources, costing cities enormously at a time when budgets are dwindling, and harming our physical, mental, and spiritual health. In the Valley, we are at a crossroads. Our light fixtures are antiquated and need to replaced, and with our next moves we have a tremendous opportunity to be a positive example to the rest of the state and the nation. Now is the ideal time to learn more about the lighting plans of the city of Harrisonburg and the Valley.
STARRY NIGHTS HARRISONBURG is week-long effort organized by Dr. Paul Bogard, author of the critically-acclaimed book The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, and myself to raise awareness about light pollution both on campus and within the city of Harrisonburg. ALL EVENTS ARE FREE!
Please join us and help spread the word about the unique, one-of-a-kind campaign to talk about light pollution and how we can regain the night sky here in the Valley.
Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium
Multiple seasoned professionals applied for a job opening last spring as a marketing/customer service representative for the Institute of Certified Professional Managers. Of all the applicants, Aly Wilkins (Marketing, ’13) stood out to Executive Director Lynn Powell, CM, who offered Wilkins the position.
In May 2013, the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) posted a job opening for a marketing/customer service representative. The Institute was seeking an experienced administrative professional to service ICPM’s customers and support marketing initiatives. Work samples, to include a business writing and marketing promotion, were to be submitted at the time of application. Of all the applicants, Aly Wilkins, a marketing student who was graduating in May, stood out. She was offered the position and accepted it.
ICPM is a business center of the College of Business that develops and certifies the competency of managers and leaders in the global workplace. ICPM gives the College of Business international exposure and, in return, the Institute receives credibility from its affiliation with JMU as a nationally recognized academic institution.
Wilkins stood out from the beginning and has continued to do so
Many applicants did not fulfill all the requirements for the job application. Wilkins, on the other hand, submitted an impressive portfolio of projects from her marketing classes.
“She had a high level of confidence, especially for an undergraduate going into her first professional position,” said Executive Director Lynn Powell. “She was very well spoken in terms of work she had done and things she could do for ICPM.”
Since being hired at ICPM, Wilkins has exceeded expectations. She recently completed her nine-month evaluation and has not only performed well, but also continues to learn more about marketing. In addition to enrollment in the 2014 Google Online Marketing Challenge, a global online marketing team competition that involves developing and executing an effective Google AdWords strategy for a real client, Wilkins also recently completed JMU Training and Development’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Series, ICPM’s Foundations of Management certificate, and the Advanced Social Media Certification from the eMarketing Association.
“JMU has a really strong mentality for professional development, which I like,” said Wilkins on her effort to continue learning.
Advantages of staying in the area after graduating
While many students graduate and leave the Harrisonburg area, Wilkins decided to stay in town for many reasons. Working at a smaller company has given her more opportunities than many of her friends who have moved to larger areas with bigger companies.
“For a young person it’s fun because you’re living the best of both worlds,” said Wilkins on staying in Harrisonburg. “A lot of your friends are still here but you’re also bringing home a paycheck.”
Wilkins has her own office and gets to work on everything marketing-related, whereas many of her classmates are not gaining that much experience in their jobs yet.
“Aly is our marketing representative. She takes care of everything from social media to print to e-mail campaigns,” said Powell. “She’s involved in everything, so she is our go-to girl. We let her run things because she has shown that she can handle it.”
Wilkins’ eagerness to work and learn fits in well at ICPM, as it offers employees a good learning environment. She has seen projects through from start to finish and asks for assistance when she doesn’t have an answer to a particular problem. She is also challenged to continually think of new ideas to gain customers and keep promotional materials new and exciting.
Preparation from the College of Business
Wilkins attributes many of the qualities that make her a great employee to her education from the College of Business. In her courses she learned how to work effectively with other personalities, as well as learning skills needed to get a job, such as writing résumés and cover letters and practicing interviews.
“They really prepared us well for getting a job,” said Wilkins. “I feel lucky because not all schools have that.”
One professor in particular who taught Wilkins and other students how to land a job is Professor Hertzenberg. Wilkins was also strongly influenced by Dr. Tokman, who was her study abroad instructor and wrote a recommendation for her to get the job at ICPM, and Dr. Clarke, who taught an Internet marketing course that sparked Wilkins’s interest in that field.
Wilkins advises current business students looking for employment to find a company with which their personalities fit well. She also suggests applying for as many jobs as possible because there are so many other people applying for the same positions.
Satisfaction with the decision to work for ICPM
Wilkins truly values working for an educational organization because of the emphasis on learning and training. Employees are valued at JMU; she is happy with her decision to take a job at ICPM.
Powell appreciates Wilkins’s hard work and is impressed with the students coming out of the College of Business.
“I would definitely seek out a graduate from CoB over another candidate,” said Powell. “My experience has been that CoB graduates have solid work skills, good work ethics, and they are well grounded. Powell said confidently that she would hire Wilkins again in a heartbeat, and Wilkins agreed that she would definitely choose a job with JMU again if she had the chance.
Making chemotherapy treatment better for patients
By Jen Kulju
Photo courtesy of Lexie Thrash ('16)
James Madison University students are helping oncology patients at the Hahn Cancer Center at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital Medical Center through a new "iPad music as therapy" program established as part of the JMU-RMH Collaborative.
'iPad music as therapy' is one of many programs established by the JMU-RMH Collaborative
The program, funded by the RMH Foundation, is the brainchild of School of Music faculty member Dr. David Stringham, whose chance meeting with former music therapist Paul Ackerman resulted in the creation of a Music and Human Services course at JMU. Ackerman is a retired National Institute for Research scientist and practicing jazz musician.
A practicum with positive impact
Taken for academic credit, the MUS 498 course allows students to select an off-site practicum for music outreach. Sophomore John Riley and senior Mark Thress "wanted to do the RMH practicum very badly," says Ackerman.
Riley, a music education major who aspires to teach in a public school one day, thought he could make chemotherapy treatment "a bit better for some patients" because several close family members had been affected by cancer. Additionally, he was interested in the ways music could be expressed beyond traditional performance. "The iPad provides the perfect avenue for performance, creativity and entertainment," Riley said.
Thress, a senior majoring in vocal performance and minoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, said that he and Riley program the iPads so that patients "have all the music they like to listen to, the games that they like to play, and the videos they like to watch." Both students find the sessions extremely gratifying. Riley claims it is one of the most rewarding experiences he has been a part of, and Thress says that seeing the effect that music has on the patients he works with is unlike anything he has experienced before.
'[Patients] have all the music they like to listen to, the games that they like to play, and the videos they like to watch.'
Thress has conducted iPad therapy sessions with long-time patient Dick Phillippi, who has been undergoing chemotherapy at RMH for 11 years for leukemia contracted 40 years after exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Despite more than 100 treatments over the years, Phillippi says he "wouldn't change the experience for anything in the world."
Photo courtesy of Lexie Thrash ('16)
In a recent session, Thress taught Phillippi how to use TunePad, Soundrop and GarageBand for the iPad in addition to engaging Phillippi in conversation about his interests and past.
Phillippi shared details about his childhood, when he played the steel guitar, and his love for woodcutting caricatures, animals and walking sticks. He says he has crafted walking or "story" sticks for "every one of my children for graduation." His creations depict 20 to 25 activities his children have been involved in.
Phillippi also teaches a woodcutting class at Bridgewater Retirement Community, where he worked as a maintenance supervisor. Doctors say that Phillippi can continue classes and woodcutting as long as his platelet count is not low.
Opportunity for growth
Janet Macarthur, Director of Oncology, Hospice and Palliative Care at RMH, speaks positively about the program. "It really helps our patients to entertain themselves when they're in the chair for a long time. We'd love to see it grow and continue."
Riley and Thress are continuing to work with patients this spring, and Riley is applying for a scholarship in hopes of conducting research on the impact of iPad music as therapy on patients.
Stringham would like to take the research one step further. "I'd like to explore what it's like at 19 to sit next to someone who is 64 (like Phillippi) who has a life-threatening illness and bond over music."
To learn more about JMU's School of Music: https://www.jmu.edu/music/
Leadership Studies Doctoral Student Founds Coalitions to Empower Immigrant Professionals
Stephen Lambert, a doctoral student in the School of Strategic Leadership Studies, is building community coalitions to support and empower immigrant professionals in the Shenandoah Valley. As part of his concentrated study of leadership in non-profit organizations, Lambert founded two non-profit organizations to support local immigrant professionals: Immigrant Professionals Community Coalition and the Professional Voices for Opportunity Network.
According to Lambert, 10% of America’s immigrant professionals live in Virginia and approximately 7,430 immigrants reside locally in the Shenandoah Valley. The reasons people relocate to the United States are varied and often include difficult circumstances such as political unrest, war, and famine. Lambert reports that immigrant professionals face immeasurable hardships in their attempt to advance their professional careers in the United States and are marginalized in the workforce. When people immigrate to the United States they are often stripped of their previous professional credentials, discounting years developing an expertise. Lambert’s research addresses the major problems encountered by immigrants: government control of credential evaluation, limited access to English classes to develop language proficiency, and stigma associated with their status as immigrants joining the workforce.
To address the challenges facing immigrant professionals in the valley, Lambert founded The Immigrant Professionals Community Coalition, a group of devoted philanthropic individuals who belong to local organizations that touch the lives of immigrant professionals. The coalition focuses specifically on assisting newcomers in becoming culturally acclimated and prepared to reenter the workforce by providing English language training, career guidance, and other valuable resources. One of the main goals for the coalition is advocating for specialized English coursework, with a focus on technical language training relevant to specific career paths, such as English for healthcare workers, STEM careers, and educators.
Lambert also founded the Professional Voices for Opportunity Network, which was created a year after The Immigrant Professionals Community Coalition was formed. This network designed to promote self-advocacy and empowerment is composed of immigrant professionals who meet regularly to share their experiences, build connections, and transfer knowledge to one another.
The framework for Lambert's research, planning and advocacy work is propelled not only by his interest in nonprofit studies and his passion for empowering immigrant professionals, but also by his previous professional experiences working in both adult and high school education, and as an ESL instructor at JMU. These experiences combined with his sensitivity to the cultural and systematic barriers that immobilize immigrants were catalysts for Lambert to pursue a Ph.D. in the Strategic Leadership Graduate program. Lambert reflected,"The Strategic Leadership Studies Graduate program has provided me with the essential knowledge, skills, and an energizing perspective."
Lambert's scholarship of engagement includes a document produced with the help of coalition members designed to provide professional support for immigrant professionals. This paper outlines how a cultural newcomer to Virginia should approach returning to his or her career. Additionally, Lambert hopes that his dissertation on this topic will develop a presence on a national platform, where community organizations and policy-makers in other states can utilize the information gathered from his research.
Lambert stated, "One of the long term goals I want to accomplish is for Virginia to create a welcome center for immigrants where they can have the resources and information available to help them assimilate into U.S culture." Lambert's philosophy, "Start with the end in mind," guides his approach to building partnerships that will ultimately pave the way toward transforming the experience of immigrant professionals in our communities.
By Kiara Mauro
Photo credit: Emily Sharrer, Daily News Record
Exhibit has special appeal to local community
By Jen Kulju
It takes a village and a lot of planning to create a "high-impact exhibit" like "Rembrandt and the Mennonite Community." According to Dr. Kate Stevens, director of the Madison Art Collection, a high-impact exhibit showcases the work of an artist who most people recognize, and it is the goal of the MAC to hold one of these exhibits per year.
Carrying out such an exhibit, however, is no small undertaking. "Rembrandt and the Mennonite Community" has been in the works since spring of 2012 due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Kay Arthur, professor emerita of art history and associate curator of Medieval and Italian Renaissance art. Arthur did something that Stevens wants other guest curators to do. "Instead of trying to do it in a semester, she decided to take the time to do it for two years," explains Stevens.
It all began when Arthur collaborated with a student on research for a Rembrandt painting three to four years ago. After taking another look at the portrait of Rembrandt's first wife Saskia, it was determined that the painting was a mid-18th-century copy of a Rembrandt portrait now in Dresden, Germany. Further investigation would reveal three more Rembrandt etchings in the MAC and enough for the nucleus of a show.
A faculty committee gathered to discuss a detailed direction for the exhibit, where "Rembrandt and the Mennonite Community" was born. "Saskia was a Mennonite, and there are Mennonites living in the Shenandoah Valley," says Stevens. In addition, according to Arthur, "there was an early history of Dutch art that said Rembrandt was a Mennonite. Other information indicates Rembrandt had friendships with the Mennonites and that his art dealer was Mennonite. These connections would allow us to create an exhibit that would appeal to the local community and have scholarly value."
Arthur wanted to add to the exhibit, so she reached out to Eastern Mennonite University and the National Gallery of Art. Much to Arthur's surprise, EMU historical library had a rather unusual collection of books relating to the reformation in the Netherlands and particularly to Mennonites in the Netherlands. "It was amazing to discover this treasure at EMU," exclaims Arthur. "I've lived in Harrisonburg for 37 years, and I had no idea the collection was there." Dr. Mary Sprunger, history department chair at EMU, helped Arthur find books appropriate for the exhibit: a handful of Dutch, 17th-century rare books including "Descriptions of Amsterdam" published by Caspar Commelin in 1693 and the renowned "Martyrs' Mirror" by T. Van Braght. Several books have engravings by the Mennonite painter and poet Jan Luiken. Dr. Sprunger also wrote several Gallery Guides and served as an advisor on the exhibit.
With the books in place, Arthur set her sights on loans from the National Gallery of Art. She and senior Andrea Morgan traveled to Washington, D.C. to look at some original Rembrandt etchings for the exhibit. Morgan is an art history major with a concentration in museum studies. She began as an intern at the MAC in the fall of 2012, and is now the student director. Morgan took a Gothic architecture class with Arthur in the spring of 2012; she also took an independent study where she assisted her professor in researching an 18th-century, Rembrandt print referred to by its subject: "old man" or "old man with long, curly hair and beard." The etching is in the exhibit and shows the influence of Rembrandt in 18th-century London.
'Working in the museum ... is something specific to JMU. I don't know that I would have had this opportunity at other schools.' — Andrea Morgan
Morgan's research on the "old man" resulted in her winning the Art History Forum 2013 for best paper, which morphed into her honor's thesis. She went from not knowing what she wanted to do with her life to "wanting to be an expert in 18th-century reproductions," shares Stevens. "I want to get my Ph.D., I want to study Netherlandish art, I want to study Rembrandt, and I want to study prints and paintings after Rembrandt," declares Morgan. "This experience working in the museum has definitely shaped the fact that not only do I want to work in academia, but I also want to do museum work." Morgan adds, "I think this experience is something specific to JMU. I don't know that I would have had this opportunity at other schools."
The opportunity for students to work with professionals in their field was one of the reasons Stevens supported borrowing works from the National Gallery of Art. The requested four to five works would also make the exhibit more "high profile." Arthur and Morgan worked with JMU alum Shannon Schuler, the assistant registrar for loans at the National Gallery of Art, for a year before the installation that Schuler insisted on going to herself. Loans include etchings of the Mennonite preacher Cornelis Claez Anslo, a self-portrait, a view of Amsterdam, studies of the human figure, as well as a print of "Christ Healing the Sick," nicknamed "The Hundred Guilder Print."
A former student of Arthur's, Schuler graduated with a bachelor's in art history in 1994. Schuler credits Arthur and other past professors with helping her to set up internships in Newport News and Colonial Williamsburg to guide her career path. She also participated in a semester abroad program in Paris, which "changed everything" for her. Schuler encourages students to take advantage of international opportunities, and says she's "always happy to come back to JMU."
The JMU community, as well as the Harrisonburg community and beyond, can view a number of portraits and small etchings by—and inspired by—Rembrandt in this enlightening, six-week exhibit. "Rembrandt has a universal appeal," claims Arthur. "He was a master etcher, but also had this wonderful, penetrating insight into people.
"Rembrandt and the Mennonite Community" is free and open to the public and runs through Feb. 28 (Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. with special Sunday hours on Jan. 26 and Feb. 23) at the Lisanby Museum in the Festival Conference and Student Center. Metered parking is available in lot C12. The exhibit features a "Kids Zone" with fun, educational materials created by Sarah Brown, master's student in art education and local elementary art teacher, as well as interactive iBooks in the gallery. For more information, visit the following website created by Lauren Rowson, a junior communication studies major with a public relations concentration: https://sites.jmu.edu/rembrandt.
Opportunities for research in international affairs solidified Zachary Ochoa's decision to come to JMU
By Jan Gillis ('07)
JMU senior Zachary Ochoa ('14) is the embodiment of the "know what you want and work to get it" philosophy.
Growing up in a military household, he had an opportunity to see the world at an early age and was convinced that a career in international affairs was in his future.
Coming to Madison was not his first choice for an academic career, but his visit to campus changed his mind. "JMU is much more welcoming than any other college I visited. I fell in love with the environment here," says Ochoa. "Students were friendly. Professors freely shared their research endeavors, and I realized that the research being conducted here was right in line with what I wanted to learn."
Anxious to know more about what his academic opportunities at Madison would be, Ochoa followed through on his initial visit. "Every time I sent an email to a JMU professor, I got a response, usually within 24 hours," says Ochoa—a responsiveness he didn't find at other colleges on his list.
"[During my college search] every time I sent an email to a JMU professor, I got a response, usually within 24 hours … I realized that the research being conducted here was right in line with what I wanted to learn."
The opportunities for focused research solidified his college choice.
Ochoa has maximized his Madison Experience. "Working as a research assistant, taking on a Senior Honors Research Project, and working as a student assistant with the Department of Political Science have helped me develop important skills for my career," he says.
As a research assistant with Dr. Jonathan Keller, associate professor of political science, Ochoa researched rogue states and analyzed recently declassified CIA documents on the Bosnia conflict. "I read and summarized 100 of those documents and helped prepare a timeline that illustrated 'who knew what' as the Bosnia situation developed. Dr. Keller will use my work as he prepares for his presentation at the Intelligence and the Transition from War to Peace Conference being held at JMU in March."
His enthusiasm for international affairs sparked interest in exploring the balance of power between the world's nations. Ochoa's senior honors thesis will delve into the rise of superpowers. "I am focusing my research on what are known as the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China," he says. Their newly advancing economies may signal a shift of global economic power to developing nations.
"Understanding a rising superpower is about analyzing its potential," says Ochoa. "I am concentrating my research on what leads to a country becoming a superpower. This research allows me to make a real contribution to my field and provides an opportunity to do original research, expanding the knowledge and understanding of the subject."
Ochoa will be presenting his research at the 2014 Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Conference in Maryland. The conference forum lets students publicly share their research and present their work to potential graduate programs and employers. It represents another reason he's glad to have made the decision to come to JMU.
Summarizing his Madison Experience is easy: "JMU sets you up for success," he says.
To learn more about the Honors Program: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/
I hope everyone is well and surviving and thriving through this cold and snowy winter. The good news is that with each passing day, we know that we get closer to the promise of the beautiful spring season in the Shenandoah Valley!
As we prepare for the busy spring season, I want to share some quick updates on events and activities this semester.
Winter Weather: As you all know, it has been a challenging winter. I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the staff who work so hard behind the scenes on stormy days (even when the campus is officially closed) to keep us all safe and secure—including our highly dedicated facilities staff, campus police, and dining services staff (among others). Please express your gratitude to these employees when you see them—they work very hard, often at times when many of us do not see or appreciate their work.
General Assembly: It’s that time of year when the General Assembly and Governor are working on the budget along with various other legislative initiatives. We have had a number of good meetings in Richmond with legislators and staff as well as with leaders in the executive branch, and we are optimistic that they will continue to support higher education as a priority for the Commonwealth in a financial and budgetary climate that continues to be tight and uncertain. We are constantly making the case for the economic and social importance of higher education in the Commonwealth, and also reinforcing the message that our people (including faculty, staff, and students) are our most important educational asset. Earlier this month, we hosted a well-attended Richmond Politicos event at which we shared our vision and strategic plan for the University. We will provide further updates about the budget when we have more information.
Strategic Planning: The strategic planning process is moving forward across campus as all units are developing objectives in furtherance of our mission, vision, values, core qualities and goals. As we focus on the vision of being the national model of the engaged university, we are developing plans across the board to strengthen and enhance engaged learning through high-impact learning practices, as well as civic and community engagement at all levels. We continue to engage our many constituencies both on and off campus as we operationalize the plan, including meetings this semester with groups such as the Student Government Association, Faculty Senate, Alumni Association Board of Directors, Parents Council, School of Liberal Arts Alumni Advisory Board, Honors Advisory Council, and Presidents’ Council and other current and prospective donors. We will provide further updates about initiatives as we go through the budgeting process for the upcoming academic year.
Academic Accomplishments: While space does not permit me to share all of our collective academic accomplishments since the last update, let me highlight a few. JMU is #3 in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best Undergraduate Teaching Universities in the South region. The commitment to teaching is one of the things I value most about our institution, and this ranking is well earned. For the 4th consecutive year our Debate Team is ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and Director of Debate Dr. Michael Davis is confident that the team will continue to move up through the remainder of the season. The James Madison University Undergraduate Research Journal has been re-established. An issue will be published this spring and will highlight work from undergraduate students from biology to business and everything in between.
Community Outreach: We continue to work with our surrounding community at all levels. Some of the local events in which I (and others from the University) have been able to participate include the Martin Luther King, Jr. tributes, a presentation about the continuing importance of the arts in education for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the opening of the renovated Ice Factory building in downtown Harrisonburg, and the Keezletown Ruritan Club.
Convenings on Campus: As we engage with ideas and the world, an important part of our educational outreach is to make JMU a place of convening for leading thinkers and researchers. Among the meetings at which I have spoken or will speak this semester include the regional research conference of Phi Alpha Theta (national History honorary), the MD-DC-VA section of the Mathematical Association of America, and the War to Peace conference which will be held during Madison Week (see below).
Concert in Washington: JMU’s School of Music held a magnificent concert and reception in Washington, DC on February 16 at National Presbyterian Church, drawing many alumni, current and prospective students and their families, and other friends and supporters of the University.
Madison Week: Madison Week will be upon us before you know it. The full schedule of events can be found at http://www.jmu.edu/madisonweek/. Among the highlights will be two conferences:
· The Diversity Conference: JMU will host its 8th Annual Diversity Conference on Monday, March 17th, as the beginning to Madison Week. The theme is Engaging Community: Creating Change. We will host community partners Sentara RMH, Merck, Miller-Coors, Target, Rockingham County Public Schools, Harrisonburg Public Schools, Eastern Mennonite University and Bridgewater College as guests and participants. Thanks to your generous response and participation, this year we will offer 34 sessions/workshops with no repeats. A registration announcement is forthcoming this week, with details on how to register on My Madison. The conference ties into JMU’s value of Diversity: “That JMU will strive to be an inclusive community that values the richness of all individuals and perspectives”.
· Intelligence and the Transition from War to Peace: The University is hosting a special national conference on the transition from war to peace in the 1990s conflict in Bosnia to mark the release of intelligence documents from that time period related to the Dayton Peace Accords. JMU Professor Timothy Walton (who was involved in the intelligence community at the time) is helping to spearhead this important convening. More information can be found at http://www.jmu.edu/war-to-peace-conference/index.shtml
Madison Vision Series: We look forward to some very special speakers coming to campus as part of our ongoing Madison Vision speaker series. On March 18, as part of our Madison Week festivities, Kat Imhoff (the CEO of Montpelier, the restored home of James and Dolley Madison) will be joining us to share her lecture titled Madison’s Shades of Grey. Her address will inspire the JMU community to consider Madison’s unique role in the founding of the United States as well as his lasting legacy here and abroad. The lecture will explore Madison’s ability to navigate the “grey” areas—he didn’t simply embody compromise; he built it into our system of governance. The talk will acknowledge and explore that Madison could not get it all right at the time (e.g., suffrage, slavery), but his sheer tenacity sets him apart and has lessons for all of us who are negotiating the grey today. On April 9, Carly Fiorina (current member of the JMU Board of Visitors, and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard) will share her thoughts on the value proposition for a broad liberal arts education and the development and implementation of our new strategic plan, which helps to answer that question about the value proposition for JMU.
Other National and Regional Meetings: As we seek to make JMU the national model of the engaged university, I (along with many of you) also represent JMU in various regional and national meetings. This semester, for example, I have spoken at a national meeting of the College Board (on financial aid) and have represented JMU at the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and its Presidents’ Trust (on engaged learning), and I have upcoming presentations for the American Council on Education (on governance), the Association of Governing Boards (on equity in higher education), and at a national conference at the University of Michigan (on access and opportunity). I also presented at the Virginia Energy and Sustainability Conference in Richmond (on sustainability initiatives in higher education), and participated as a member in the most recent meeting of the Advisory Council for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (which oversees and funds biomedical research). After our successful SACS reaffirmation, I will be serving on a SACS visiting team at the LSU Law School in April. JMU continues to be well represented nationally in higher education as we seek to share and learn about emerging ideas and best practices on many fronts.
Academic Leadership Searches: On-campus interviews have been held for the finalists in the College of Integrated Sciences and Engineering Dean search. On-campus interviews for the Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship were delayed due to weather but are now underway. The on-campus interviews for the College of Health and Behavioral Studies Dean search will commence on February 27.
Advancement Update: We continue to reconfigure and strengthen the Division of Advancement to prepare for enhanced fundraising going forward. In addition to restructuring efforts to emphasize Campaign Management and Principal Relations Development, recent hires include new positions aimed at strengthening Corporate and Foundation Giving, as well as new hires for the Director of College Engagement and the Director of Major Gifts. We are actively working with external consultants to gather constituent feedback through surveys and interviews that will help us develop informed fundraising goals and strategies going forward, and have enhanced our partnership with the JMU Foundation. We were also pleased to receive a recent gift from the duPont Foundation to support a new Valley Scholars initiative to provide access to higher education for disadvantaged students with high academic potential in our region.
Women’s Basketball: As many of you know, the women’s basketball team is having a terrific season. They are currently undefeated in conference play and have recently been receiving votes for the Top 25. The Colonial Athletic Association (“CAA”) women’s conference tournament will be held from March 14-16 in Upper Marlboro, MD. We urge you to come out to one of the remaining home games and to the conference tournament! We also hope many of you will be able to attend the men’s CAA tournament, which will be held on March 7-9 in Baltimore.
May Commencement: Final plans are underway for the May commencement ceremonies. To accommodate the students, their families, and guests who attend the various ceremonies, we have instituted a new schedule to facilitate parking, transportation, and safety for the 25,000+ who come on campus to celebrate. Please see the commencement website at www.jmu.edu/commencement for the times and places for the Graduate, University, and college ceremonies on May 9-10, 2014.
As you can see, it’s a busy and exciting season at JMU for all of us. Thank you all for what you do every day and for your passion, dedication, and commitment to excellence.
With all best wishes,
By Janet Smith ('81)
Retrieved from Winter 2014 Madison Magazine.
Before coming to the United States in 1983, graphic design professor Sang Yoon worked as a corporate graphic designer. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1988 and joined the JMU faculty that year.
Sang Yoon, professor of graphic design in the JMU School of Art and Art History, is teaching in South Korea for her second stint as a Fulbright Scholar. According to Fulbright records dating to 1998, she is JMU’s first two-time Fulbright award winner.
Yoon is teaching as part of the Core Fulbright Scholar Program and sharing her talents and knowledge with students at Kyung Hee University. Her previous Fulbright experience was as a 2007 Fulbright Research Grant recipient. The fruit of her three-month study was “The Street Graphics of Seoul: A Culturally-focused Contribution to the Study of Urban Graphics,” a project she has presented at three international conferences in Hawaii, Venice and Athens.
While Yoon taught one course in 2007, her current Fulbright-sponsored residency focuses completely on teaching graphic design to undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students.
A native of South Korea, Yoon is teaching in English since students are required to take several courses within their programs of study in the language. She is using revamped content from courses she teaches at JMU to accommodate the curriculum and culture in South Korea. In addition to teaching typography in English and Korean alphabets, Yoon was asked to add Chinese and Korean characters and fonts to the mix. “Since I have worked with English fonts only, it was a challenge to find out what kinds of Korean and Chinese fonts are available for my students,” she says.
Yoon is sharing both her work and her JMU students’ work with her Korean students, and she says she looks forward to sharing her Korean students’ work with her JMU students upon her return to campus.
“My KHU students were inspired by the JMU senior students’ advanced technical abilities and the professionalism of their pieces,” says Yoon. A JMU tradition of student portfolio reviews by professional graphic designers and art directors intrigued Yoon’s colleagues. “KHU Professor Mee-kyung Jang and I are planning to invite five KHU graduates now working in design firms to a KHU senior portfolio review.”
“In addition to my Korean students, I have several foreign students from China, Indonesia and Romania,” Yoon says. “These students’ ways of approaching design objectives and strategies are rich and intriguing; and I am excited to share their multicultural and alternative perspectives with my JMU classes.”
Yoon is collecting and photographing more samples to continue her research that began in 2007. “I am looking forward to writing a paper to discuss my newest insights into the visual culture of Korea.”
The dining area at Festival has a variety of bins for recycleables, compost materials and landfill waste. Picture by Klaire Dixius for JMU Technology and Design.
By Lauren Privette
Throwing trash away in Festival is not the straightforward task it used to be. Upon returning from winter break, students found four new trash cans with big, distinctly labeled signs explaining which recyclables go in which can. JMU’s Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability in partnership with Dining Services created the signs for the trash cans with the hope of minimizing waste and improving our rank in the annual Recycling Mania Tournament.
Over an 8-week period each year, 461 colleges and Universities across of the U.S. and Canada compete in various categories for the most material recycled and the least trash collected. This is JMU’s 8th consecutive year participating in the yearly competition.
With the start of the Recycling Mania Tournament in early February, JMU upped the ante with these new, more specific bins, in an effort to reduce the amount of waste generated on campus. Three of the bins are for recyclables, and one is for un-recyclable waste that will go to a landfill. “I think it’s good,” said senior Biotechnology major Brittany McCarthy, “it’s really helpful to have the pictures on there. It makes it easy to figure out where everything goes.”
In the infancy of the new recycling bins, students struggled to separate their trash and different materials in their respective bins. J.R. Franks, a Junior Geographic Science major, had trouble determining where to put the wax paper his sandwich was wrapped in. “It isn’t specifically indicated what those are, so, for a few items, I’m not really sure where they go,” said Franks.
To help with the sorting, a staff member monitored and directed trash traffic for the first few weeks. “She was helpful. She just helped students do what the sign said,” reflected McCarthy.
However, problems still arise with the new bins. “I try to do everything according to what it says,” said Franks, “but I look in there and see that people have put stuff in the obviously wrong one, and I think ‘what’s the point of this if no one’s going to do it right?’”
The tournament continues until the 29th of March, leaving plenty of time for improvements in recycling habits.
When asked if she was happy with the new recycling system, McCarthy responded, “It’s an easy way to help the environment that doesn’t cost much effort from the person doing it, so why not?”
So next time you’re in Festival, remember to recycle!
Curious about the tournament? JMU is currently in 137th out of 461 schools! Here’s a link to the Recycle Mania website and rankings: http://www.recyclemaniacs.org/scoreboard/current-results/competition-division
By James Irwin ('06)
It's a form of grassroots philanthropy — sort of like political candidates who raise money through satellite headquarters — and it goes by a number of titles: crowd funding, peer-to-peer, the ground game. It is a major way to raise funds and awareness for a cause.
And it's arrived at a JMU alumni chapter near you.
The program is called the JMU Alumni Chapter Challenge. Its premise is simple: pool JMU alumni, volunteers and advocates in 20 regions worldwide into a single campaign that raises money for the university (any gift, of any amount, to any fund counts). An alum's donation is tracked based on place of residence and counts toward the chapter nearest that location (so, a JMU graduate living in Midlothian, Va. counts as a member of the Richmond Chapter).
From July 1, 2013 until May 31, 2014, JMU alumni worldwide will represent their local chapters by making gifts to the university, with prizes — and bragging rights — on the line.
"We've never really done something like this on a national level," said Amanda Leech ('09), Assistant Director in the JMU Office of Alumni Relations. "It's a natural fit that our alumni leaders would be promoting this to their alumni groups. They already are trusted providers of information to alumni in their communities."
Alumni within a 30-mile radius of the 20 participating chapters are included in the Chapter Challenge (that's more than 76,000 JMU alumni!). So, how do you participate? Simple:
1. Check out the JMU Alumni Chapter Challenge online
2. Make a gift to JMU (choose your fund)
3. Check out the monthly standings
4. Tweet about the JMU Alumni Chapter Challenge
The goal, Leech says, is to raise funds for JMU, awareness of philanthropic needs in higher education, and to increase JMU's alumni giving participation. In 2012-13, 8,509 JMU alumni made a donation to Madison — the highest total in the history of the university. A unique element of the Chapter Challenge is there are no target funds; the donor chooses the allocation. There are more than 2,000 destinations to select from, and the freedom to choose where the money goes is something that resonates with alumni, says Kristen Malzone ('07), President of the New York/New Jersey Chapter. Malzone has been using events as a platform to communicate about the Chapter Challenge, raffling off items to donors and playing up the idea of competition.
"Having an opportunity for a donor to select where the money goes has been something I've mentioned whenever I've talked about [the Chapter Challenge]," she said. "And, of course, New Yorkers are pretty competitive."
They are competitive in Richmond, too. Last year, the chapter had one of the highest alumni giving percentages in the country (10.9%).
"The bottom line here is to raise money for JMU, and get more people involved and create a better understanding of why it's important to give back," said Allison Smith ('08), giving chair for the Richmond Chapter. "There's a real buzz here around the competition this creates. And designating where the money goes really resonates with people. It makes their gift unique, knowing it goes back to something they really care about."
Ultimately, Smith said, the Chapter Challenge is designed to help private donations become a major fund source for the university, benefitting scholarships, programs and financial aid.
"JMU can't meet its financial needs on tuition alone," Smith said. "Alumni want to give back. There's an excitement here about how we can improve, because when you give back, it helps the university."
In the words of anthropologist and author Zora Neale Hurston, “research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Though we may not realize it, JMU is actually one of the few universities that truly encourages undergraduate students to participate in scientific research. With state of the art facilities, hands-on lab courses, and journals dedicated solely to undergraduate research, JMU actively seeks to give its students real experience in all of the sciences. A group of biology, biotechnology, and ISAT students, who go by the name “SuperPhages,” exemplify the school’s dedication to engaging young scientists. These are the students who choose to continue their research beyond the Viral Discovery Program, a course focused on providing freshmen with real independent research experience and skills.
The Viral Discovery and SuperPhage Programs are research efforts designed to study the possibilities of viruses that kill bacteria, also known as “bacteriophages,” or “phage” for short. “We call the Viral Discovery Program students the PhageHunters,” explains Dr. Louise Temple, one of the originators of the course. “The students have a great time, they learn a lot, it’s easy, fun, and exciting.”
If these students choose to continue to do phage research beyond their freshmen year, they are called SuperPhages. While the Viral Discovery Program is a nationwide effort, with around 80 participating schools including the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, the SuperPhage continuation is unusual. “We do this for an educational experience,” Temple said. “I do [the SuperPhage Program] to meet the needs of the students.”
These phages work by infecting a host bacteria cell, taking over the cell’s machinery to make new viruses, and finally making proteins that break the cell wall. Several questions are then asked and tackled by these SuperPhage student researchers. Could these bacteriophages be used to replace antibiotics? More than replacing antibiotics, could these phages be used to treat crops and farm animals suffering from costly pathogens? Could the proteins that break the bacteria’s cell walls be isolated and used instead of the whole virus? What about using these phages as an inexpensive alternative diagnostic tool?
These young scientists are tasked with either looking for new phages to solve a specific problem area, such as a pathogen infecting livestock, or they are looking at the genes of known phages to see if they can isolate the cell-breaking protein. “The students know how to do this research because they did it as freshmen, but it’s a lot more sophisticated,” said Temple. “There’s a lot more to it.”
Currently there are four groups of SuperPhages each consisting of two to three students. The groups have a specific topic they are researching including research on the STI-causing bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Bacillus diseases like food poisoning. One group is even looking at the possibilities of using Bordetella avium, a bacteria that infects turkeys with a disease much like whooping-cough, as a potential diagnostic tool.
Another example of research conducted by a group of SuperPhages includes looking at the work of students Christopher Lien, Alexander Clare, and Christopher Langouet, who studied the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. This soil bacterium infects and harms plants like tomatoes, tobacco, and beans by secreting an Ice Nucleation Active (INA) protein that causes the plants to become damaged easily by ice. “This has significant agricultural importance,” explained Lien. “The bacterium damages crops and causes millions of dollars in losses.” As SuperPhages, the students’ task included isolating a phage particle from the soil and testing to see if it would infect and kill the target bacterium, P. syringae.
“The majority of undergraduates never get the chance to engage in research and it’s disheartening,” said Lien. “Not only are they missing out on valuable knowledge, they’re also being sent out into the world with little to no experience.” While some universities may shy away from having undergraduate students actively participating in scientific research, JMU has joined the ranks of other universities who realize the importance of giving their students real world experience. The Viral Discovery and SuperPhage programs, in particular, are great at giving the students a true look at the process of knowledge-making through research.
“The cool thing about this project is that really good science comes out of it,” said Temple. “The science is real.” With experience, confidence in their ability as scientists, and maybe even a few publications under their belts, these SuperPhages are well on their way to accomplishing great things.
The 2013-2014 SuperPhages are split into four groups each looking at a particular bacteria and corresponding phage. These groups include: the Neisseria gonorrhoeae group with Samantha Johnson, Alexis Brouillette, and Ashley Irvin; the Bordetella group with Weston Johnson and Joseph Bannister; the Plant Pathogen group with Christophe Langouet, Alex Clare, and Christopher Lien and; the Bacillus diseases group with McKenzie Quinn, Nick Minahan, and Brooke Sauder.
Dr. Melissa Alemán, Professor of Communication Studies and Associate Dean of The Graduate School, has been studying the communication and culture of aging families for nearly two decades. In recent years, Alemán’s scholarship has led to the study of her own family. She reflects, “When you study family communication you are routinely humbled by the stories that others are willing to openly share with you – their long term marriages, their experiences as caregivers, their celebrations and losses. I felt it was time to showcase that same kind of vulnerability in my own writing and I found that opportunity through collaborating with members of my own family.”
Alemán’s first collaborative effort was with her mother, Katherine Helfrich, Professor Emeritus at Frederick Community College and a retired social worker. In a series of papers, they examined the lessons offered in their family stories about caregiving. This examination provided Alemán and her mother an opportunity to explore the power of joint storytelling as a source of resilience for families dealing with crises and chronic illness, such as dementia. Alemán explains, “Often popular media about Alzheimer’s disease treat persons with dementia as empty shells of their former selves, creating stigma and fear about caregiving. Real life stories are not merely tragic, nor are they romanticized tales. We felt that it was important to showcase how family storytelling about illness can open up opportunities to have difficult conversations about caregiving and end-of-life decisions.”
Their lead article in The Journal of Family Communication asserts, “Telling collaborative stories enable family members to reconcile that despite being a catastrophic illness, dementia is not the end of a person’s social experience, identity, and story – our family members with dementia and our future selves remain rich and whole. The stories remind us that we construct that degree of wholeness in our everyday talk with one another.”
Family storytelling is also an everyday activity in which all families participate. Most recently Alemán co-authored a book chapter with her husband Dr. Carlos Alemán, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, which theorized the role of storytelling in multicultural families. In their work they highlight that “lessons” found in everyday family stories told in multicultural households often communicate conflicting messages about how to be and behave. They argue that such conflicting messages are as much an opportunity for some families as they are a problem for others. Alemán and Alemán explain that it is the act of family storytelling in and of itself that is important in multicultural families. The cultural contradictions presented during storytelling enable “third spaces,” new ways of being a family that are situated firmly in neither culture, and that are created through difference.
Drs. Melissa and Carlos Alemán will present this ongoing work on storytelling in multicultural families at an upcoming colloquium entitled “Family Photos and Storytelling in Multicultural Homes.” at the Institute for Visual Studies on April 16, 2014 at noon. The colloquium will encourage participants to consider the ways that people use family photos as opportunity to embrace contradiction and multiplicity in family identities.
Alemán believes that storytelling is an important form of advocacy in families – particularly aging families – as stories are a critical tool for communicating to one another and to others (such as physicians and caregivers) about what is important and how needs are to be addressed. For this reason, she was excited to play a role in developing the new graduate program in Communication and Advocacy where she served as the Graduate Program Director prior to joining The Graduate School as Associate Dean.
Looking ahead, on July 1, 2014 Dr. Alemán will step into the role of Interim Dean of The Graduate School following Dr. Reid Linn’s retirement.
by Sydney Palese
Dr. Michael Hall, professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Psychological Sciences M.A. program, received an award from James Madison Innovations, Inc. (JMI) to “produce, market and electronically distribute unique software-based musical instruments, audio effects and other audio devices for use both in academic research and in musical production.”
JMI’s mission is “to promote innovation, enhance research by connecting inventors and industry, and foster economic development through protecting and commercializing intellectual property.” The award recognizes innovations that developed from a three yearlong series of research projects in the lab, completed in collaboration with JMU students Christopher Becker and Thomas Redpath. These projects developed technology to improve the control of computerized synthesis of sounds for research.
For Hall, psychology is all about the process. While researching the perception of sounds and applying the findings to practical purposes, Hall is able to cultivate his innate curiosity with his appreciation for music.
If you’ve ever wondered why your voice sounds much more pleasing instantly than when played back on a recorder, or how we know a violin or guitar when we hear its music played on a city sidewalk, then you’ve thought about sound perception. Hall’s research falls under the study of “timbre,” or sound quality. Timbre is a branch within the field of psychoacoustics and psychophysics, which Hall referred to as “the psychology before there was [something called] psychology.”
Working with a team of undergraduate and graduate students, Hall is leading an effort to discover how humans recognize a sound source—a musical instrument, another person’s voice, or an environmental noise—and how we perceive these sounds in complex listening environments.
Much of the research involves observing and isolating properties of sound and seeing what effect they have on the whole. Hall said there are several parameters involved in the research, including looking at the spectral envelope shape. This parameter depicts which frequencies are particularly intense relative to other regions, and reflects natural resonances of the sound-producing object.
As part of this project, Hall’s lab is developing software programs to “to permit the re-synthesis of simplified forms of natural sound sources – speech, music, and environmental sounds.” A few of these developments include Formant Function, a virtual synthesizer and musical instrument, which “[mimics] the spectrum of common musical instruments or voiced phonemes in speech.” Function initially began as a collaboration between Hall and an undergraduate Physics student working on his honors thesis, and has since grown to contribute regularly to ongoing research in the lab.
Another device is Source Builder, which can generate waves with complete control over the frequencies, intensities, and phases of individual harmonics. The results can then be imported “as a starting point for sound synthesis” within Formant Function.
Related devices have also been used for research beyond JMU, leading to partnerships, including a partnership with a researcher studying animal communication who was seeking to reproduce dolphin vocalizations as well as subcontract work for the Army Research Laboratory concerning the production and perception of military-relevant sounds.
This year, Hall’s invention is being recognized as one of JMU’s best inventions and Hall hopes that this technology will be especially useful for researchers and musicians. “My interest lies in getting this technology out there for someone to make use of [it],” he said.
A website is currently being created to make existing software devices available and Hall hopes to continue to develop these, and other devices, in the future. He added that he plans on putting profits from the technology back into the lab to make it more self-sustaining. “100 percent of the proceeds would support student travel for research presentations on the devices in the lab, and [to] support software upgrades,” he said. “We’re not doing this for big profit, but doing it for little money put in exactly the right place.”
Hall indicated that a lot of effort from the entire laboratory is required to do this kind of work, stating that really “you’re living for 15 minutes when you do research – the five minutes when you get an idea you know you can test, the five minutes when you get a result you know you can interpret, and the five minutes when you get the result finalized and can share that information.” Thankfully, this JMU-supported project is frequently making all three of these rewards possible.
Media Arts & Design Major with a Journalism Concentration; Creative Writing and Music Industry Minor
Interests/Favorites: Music, Tennis, and Breakfast Cereal
Campus Affiliations: Exit 245, Student Ambassadors, and Make Your Mark on Madison
Spencer's Advice: One of the most valuable qualities a JMU student can have is the modesty to know that it's okay to ask for help. Too often, students try to do it all on their own because they are embarrassed about not knowing it all. Balancing self-reliance and the ability to get different perspectives will in the end enhance a student's learning experience at Madison.
Seasonal Student Issues
There’s a seasonal ebb and flow when it comes to student issues. Here are a few things your student may be experiencing this month:
- Difficulty getting into study mode
- Things become routine… school finally becomes home
- Pressures to figure out living plans for next year as the room assignment process draws near
- Missing family and friends at home, and friends who did not return to school
- Cliques become stronger within residence hall communities, student organizations and in classes
- Cabin fever and burnout
- Valentine’s Day depression if not dating
- Vocational choice/internship search causes anxiety
- Spring break planning underway
- Sophomores facing decisions about declaring a major
Choosing a Major
Many students are currently facing the selection of a major, after taking a variety of courses. This process can be stressful and a bit agonizing for some students, who still don’t feel 100% sure about what they want to do. Your support is a key part of this process.
How to Be Helpful
- Support the exploration of a variety of potential careers.
- Encourage your student to make academics a high priority.
- Encourage her to build skills and strengths out of the classroom that complement her in-class learning.
- Identify talents and abilities you have observed in your student and share them with her.
- Nudge him to visit the career center and his academic advisor, and to talk with on-campus mentors.
- Be careful not to expect your student to follow in your footsteps or take over the family career “legacy.”
- Encourage your student to find his passion and pursue a vocation rather than simply guaranteeing himself a job.
- Promote internships, job shadowing and mentoring as a means to “test” possible majors and career paths.
- Ask intentional questions to help your student filter through what can be an overwhelming decision.
The majority of college students change their major at least once. With your help, your student can settle on a major that suits him very well.
Questions to Ask
- What have some of your favorite classes been? Why?
- How have you performed in these classes? What have you learned?
- What out-of-class experiences have made an impact on you?
- What are your passions? What do you really care about and want to contribute to?
- What majors float to the top?
- How does this major(s) relate to career options of interest?
Deciding Where to Live Next Year
Where will your student call home next year? It’s room selection and apartment-looking season, as students determine whether they will live on- or off-campus in the academic year ahead.
To help with these decisions, here are some important things for your student to consider:
- What is he involved in? Will it still be doable to be that involved if he lives off-campus?
- What about work? If the job is on-campus, will she be able to find parking and get to work on time?
- What about transportation? Will a car be in the equation?
- Who will he live with? What kind of influence will these people be?
- What about eating options? Will she get enough nutrition if she is cooking for herself, without a meal plan?
- What about summer storage? Will that be available?
- When does a lease run? Will he be paying for time that he won’t be living there? If so, how will that be handled?
- If she lives on campus next year, what environment would be best? Should she live in a campus apartment, a suite, a theme house or somewhere else?
- What costs are involved with housing, transportation, food and more? How do these balance out when comparing the realities of on- and off-campus living?
These questions help students look at the big picture. It’s not just about holing up with three of their best buddies in an off-campus apartment or on-campus suite. It’s about how this decision will impact other areas of your student’s life, from involvement to finances to wellness… and beyond.
It’s Your Student’s Responsibility
Many on-campus housing lotteries occur right about now. Encourage your student to attend informational meetings and ask questions now to learn about this process. He’ll feel much more prepared if he does. It’s up to your student to follow campus procedures in order to secure housing for next year. If he doesn’t understand the process, there are people who can help within residence life. Students need to be proactive and informed in order to make the housing system work in their favor!
When we’re searching for belonging, it’s easy to get sucked into a clique. Yet, this tunnel vision can make it difficult for us to see other positive people around us. So, here are some things to consider discussing with your student when it comes to clique control…
- What types of limits your student feels others in the clique impose on him (e.g. how to act, who to spend time with, etc.)
- Other places she could seek out positive interactions with peers
- Why this group holds such meaning to him
- If she is afraid to stand up to members of the clique
- What he feels he might be missing because he’s spending so much time with this one group
Students within cliques often don’t see that their behaviors may be exclusionary or that they’re limiting their other options. Gently discuss this with your student to raise his awareness and get cliques under control.
Getting Heart Smart This Valentine’s Day
Sharing a heart-healthy focus with your student
As Valentine’s Day rolls around, it’s easy for students who aren’t in relationships to feel left out. But you can help!
Make this Feb. 14 about focusing on your hearts – those living, pumping mechanisms that keep us going when we treat them right – instead of flowers, chocolates and stuffed animals. You and your student can start a Heart Smart challenge, whether you’re communicating from afar or living in the same household.
Some components of such a challenge could include:
- Both of you going to the doctor to get your heart health checked.
- Becoming aware of your resting heart rate.
- Committing to eating a heart healthy meal at least 5 times per week and then sharing recipes for and photos of those meals with one another.
- Learning something new about cholesterol, nutrition, weight management and more on the American Heart Association site (www.heart.org) once a week that you can share via email or text.
- Sharing a goal that you’ll walk or run a 5K in the late spring or early summer – and then getting into an exercise program that’ll help you prepare! Talk about your fitness goals and accomplishments along the way – it’s more exciting than talking about the weather, right?
- Tracking your heart health through the online Heart360 tool (www.heart360.org).
- Helping each other manage stress more effectively through online encouragement, de-stressing phone calls and taking walks when you’re together.
This is just the tip of the healthy heart iceberg. Yet, if you and your student focus on getting heart healthy together this Valentine’s season, the difference could be dramatic. It’s the ultimate sign of love.
According to the American Heart Association, there are ways to reduce the sugar in your diet, thus treating your heart more kindly.
- Decrease the amount of sugar you add to things you eat or drink.
- Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.
- Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice, instead of syrup.
- Add fresh or dried fruit to cereal and oatmeal, instead of adding sugar.
- Cut the amount of sugar in baking recipes by one-third to one-half.
- Use extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon instead of adding sugar to recipes.
- Enhance foods with spices like ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg, instead of sugar.
- Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes (use equal amounts).
- Try non-nutritive sweeteners (determined to be safe by the FDA) such as aspartame, sucralose or saccharin in moderation. They may satisfy your sweet tooth without adding more calories to your diet.
Source: Sugars and Carbohydrates, American Heart Association, www.heart.org, 1/7/14
The “I Don’t Have Money to Go on Spring Break!” Solution
It’s natural to have visions of warm, sunny beaches dancing in our heads as we zip up our parkas and try to keep track of our mittens. Yet, the reality is that many students can’t afford to take a Spring Break trip. That’s why we’ve rounded up some much less expensive options that can still increase your student’s sunny outlook.
- Get permission to read to an elementary school class and experience the wonder & creativity of wee ones
- Take a nap, whenever you feel like it!
- Sit in a patch of sun or under a sunlamp
- Get an awesome book from the library and lose yourself in it
- Offer to walk a friend or neighbor’s dog for a dose of animal adoration
- Rent a Redbox video, pop some popcorn and invite friends over for the latest zombie apocalypse saga
- Go snowshoeing at a local park or golf course and then out for hot chocolate afterwards
- Take an old teacher, friend or family member out for coffee and a chat
- Carry a stack of quarters to an arcade and play Ms. Pac Man with wild abandon
- Buy a few postcards and send out “Wish You Were Here” notes to friends
- Hit up a matinee of that movie you’ve been wanting to see
- Go to a local planetarium to learn about the night sky
- Ice skate with friends
- Host a potluck where no one can spend over $10 on their dish to pass
- Meet friends at a restaurant where you all order an appetizer as your meal and share
Inexpensive Spring Break fun is entirely possible! Give your student a nudge so he can enjoy his time without breaking the bank.
At this point in the year, some students are knee-deep in community involvement, while others are still trying to figure out their place. A key question to ask your student in regards to this is “What could you contribute to the campus community?”
You can help them assess their contributions with a few other key questions, too…
- What are some things you could teach other people? (These can be anything, from sign language to grammar tricks to the rules of basketball!)
- What about your personality makes you a positive community member?
- What does “community involvement” mean to you?
- What community contributions have you provided thus far?
- How else do you see yourself getting involved in this community?
- What do you hope to show other members of this community?
- What interests/talents/hobbies do you have? How could each be used to contribute to this community? (e.g. You are great at graphic design and could offer to develop a poster series with the leadership office.)
Encourage your student to talk with a trusted advisor, coach, residence hall staffer or supervisor about positive ways to get involved in the campus community. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, especially not at first! Yet, engaging in the community is a proven way for students to feel more a part of things and to feel like they want to stick around.
Your student can get involved in various ways, such as:
- Attending hall council meetings
- Helping his residence hall staff with a program or bulletin board
- Joining the campus newspaper to do graphic design
- Forming an intramural basketball/volleyball/ping pong team
- Attending a retreat run by campus ministry
- Participating in a service project with some classmates
- Giving campus tours through the admissions office
- Helping to decorate a campus space for Open House
- Singing with the gospel choir or another campus group
On Saturday afternoons, physics major Colleen Wallace operates equipment in the JMU's John C. Wells Planetarium while providing visitors a scientific talk about the stars, planets, and constellations that can be seen each night in our backyard.
The John C. Wells Planetarium is a two-million-dollar, state-of-the-art hybrid facility, the only one of its kind in the world. It hosts both an Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5 digital projection system and a Goto Chronos opto-mechanical star projector that provides visitors with a superior and realistic night sky. The digital system allows JMU to present full dome movies, as well as project the multi-wavelength universe. The Goto Chronos starball projects an authentic night sky for any location on the Earth’s surface from the past 100,000 years.
When Wallace is not in the Planetarium, she can sometimes be found near the sundial in front of Burruss Hall. There, with a solar telescope or two, she provides community visitors with a safe way to view our Sun as the active, dynamic star that it is, rather than the pale-yellow circle drawn by elementary school children.
This past summer, JMU launched an inaugural summer Space Camp with the aim to engage, motivate and excite the next generation of scientists and engineers. Wallace became a camp counselor and led a group of about 10 explorers and provided hands-on science learning experiences to Valley children.
In the classroom and in the lab, Wallace has mastered the method of using gas chromatography to assess a mixture of hydrogen isotopes and has served as the group resource person for this measurement. When visitors from Jefferson Lab came to campus and wanted to measure samples, Wallace was the person who made this happen. She quickly learned the proper procedure for collecting gas from the hydrogen distillery system using liquid helium, compressing it into a small sample bottle and injecting the sample into the chromatograph, and finally analyzing the results to determine the concentration ratios. There are many steps to this process and it is easy to make errors, but Wallace does this all very well.
As an engaged student in the physics, Wallace continues to serve as an excellent role model for women in science and as an ambassador for James Madison University. Post-graduation, she plans to attend grad school, although for what and where are still undetermined.
By Colleen Dixon
Originally published in Winter 2014 Madison Magazine.
Mike Boylan’s degree in early childhood education launched his career as a kindergarten teacher. But to hear him describe his journey of starting and building his own global textile business, it is obvious that he has valuable lessons to give beyond the classroom.
Boylan (’76) owns PEKA Textiles Co. Ltd., with offices in Shanghai, Bangkok and Hong Kong that offer imported textiles, global sourcing and distribution, and custom product development.
An international success, Boylan’s path to his textile empire was not a straight seam. “I’ll never forget my dad’s words as they dropped me off at JMU’s Eagle Hall,” recalls Boylan: ‘Son, we have done the best we can do; now it’s up to you.’”
His first semester was a disaster. An admitted “social misfit,” Boylan struggled with studying in the college environment. To make everything worse he contracted mono as the second semester began. At that time, students with mono were confined to the health center. “This was huge for me,” says Boylan, who literally learned how to study during his illness. “I really had nothing else to do except sleep, eat and read. This was a true crossroad for me.”
At the same time Boylan was learning how to be a good student he was also learning how to teach. “JMU’s education department was really terrific. The quality of our major professors, Dr. Leonard, Dr. Davis and Dr. Dickenson, was world class.” Boylan was hired by the Lynchburg City School system as its first male kindergarten teacher. “I had fun every day,” he says, “but the system pushed me to go into administration and I wanted no part of public school administration.”
Boylan taught kindergarten for two years, and then moved into a job in the textile business in Brown Deer, Wisc., a suburb of Milwaukee. During the next few decades, Boylan worked for several textile and manufacturing companies. After a less than successful attempt to start a textile trading company, Boylan tried again in 2009. He started his own company with $10,000 cash and additional funds from an IRA.
“Persistence and timing are key ingredients to starting a company. You make your own luck,” says Boylan, who got his first textile orders from a colleague who worked for Springs Industries. And Boylan also hired several staff members from Spring Industries who were about to lose their jobs when a company merger closed the factories.
‘We decided to invest in people first.’ Mike Boylan (‘76)
“An important thing I learned at Madison is that personal relationships are central to success, from everyday life to major negotiations,” Boylan says. “This is essential for any international business. Each country handles things differently.”
During one of his first visits to Indonesia, Boylan and a colleague visited the Pekalongan Batik Museum located in Pekalongan, Central Java, Indonesia. “We ended up developing excellent relationships with the people in factories in this region,” he says. “We were so impressed with the beauty of Indonesia and the skill of our factory partners that we decided to promote the name PEKA® Brand fabrics and renamed our company PEKA Textile Co. Ltd.”
Boylan’s company experienced tremendous early growth in the first two years of existence but it was unsustainable as the business was then constructed. “We grew too fast and did a poor job with our resources in China. We had to make some changes quickly. We decided to invest in people first.” The result was a technical staff that was continually present at the factory while PEKA products were made.
“Never say no to an opportunity to develop something. You become an expert on the subject, especially if no one else is doing it. Also, make sure you and your company become so important that your current and prospective customers want to work with you.”
Sounds easy, but it is not. Boylan explains, “Always return phone calls. Overnight samples, even if you don’t think you need to. Treat customers like they are the only thing that matters. Finally, have the best team you can find and fund.”
Last year PEKA added the major product line Batik Fabrics. “This product line helps balance our business,” says Boylan. “And our website is an invaluable tool when I make initial contacts with prospects. ... It’s important to put people first. The textile industry is very old, especially the decorative fabrics business, so we try to be innovators. We specialized in developing a series of bundles of fabric and Do-It-Yourself kits. Our most recent project was developing printed burlap.”
Boylan says he is “honored to have earned a degree from Madison. Even during some not so good times, I was always fortunate to have had the help to get through the bad and embrace the good. My college relationships are life long and truly special. I come back to campus for Homecoming as often as I can. Over the years, both the university and my fraternity have done a terrific job welcoming us back. There is nothing like the JMU experience.”
Traymon Beavers, a junior majoring in mathematics with a minor in creative writing, will soon be travelling to Utah to present his work at the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics at Brigham Young University. After being encouraged by his freshman advisor, mathematics and science professor Elizabeth Brown, to take part in an undergraduate research experience in the well regarded program at St. Mary's College in Maryland, Beavers caught the research bug. In addition to tutoring at the Science and Math Learning Center at JMU, Beavers continues his passion for mathematical research under professors Brant Jones and Edwin O’Shea, both in the mathematics and science department. Beavers has already presented his research team's original work at sectional meetings of the Mathematical Association of America.
Originally from Midlothian, Virginia, Traymon found his inspiration to study mathematics from "a wonderful teacher," Mrs. Amber Mierchuk of Cosby High School. Beavers became a mathematics major at JMU for many reasons, and says, “The main one is the simple fact that I love finding solutions to problems. But not just the actual solution derived…” Interestingly, finishing a problem is not his favorite part of researching mathematics, “I find it vastly rewarding, don’t misunderstand me, but once the problem is solved the struggle is over. This is the main reason I enjoy mathematical research: the struggle never ends."
As Beavers continues his research, he utilizes his studies in creative writing to draw connections between mathematics and poetry, "Repetition in poetry stresses themes and tones,” explains Beavers, “This is also the case in a mathematical setting where the notation and concepts can get lost without a repetitious emphasis on the mathematics' critical parts."
Hello everyone! It’s that magic time of year again, the dog days of Virginia Summer are here, and we’re a little over a month away from the first day of classes at Madison. For those of you returning with a fine two-wheeled machine in tow, whether it be for exercise, to save on gas, or to avoid having to find a parking spot, there exists etiquette and laws governing how you ride your bike around campus as well as around the City of Harrisonburg. So now that the royal baby’s been born, Dave’s is closed, and its too hot to stay outside for long, why not read this handy guide on how to stay safe on a bike as well as stay in the good graces of all those trying to get to the same place as you are?
- Wear a helmet: A wise man once said it’s more than just a hat rack, and he was right; your head and all of its contents are a terrible thing to waste. Helmets are mildly cumbersome to some, and downright unnecessary to others. While a helmet is only legally required in Virginia until the age of 14, that doesn’t serve as an excuse to not wear one. Helmets, next to defensive bicycling, are our first line of defense against major traumatic injury in the case of a crash. If you’re in the market for a helmet, there are a plethora of fine local bike shops willing to sell one to you including Shenandoah Bicycle Company, Mark’s Bikes, and the newly opened Rocktown Bikes!
- You are an automobile, sort of: According to Virginia law, a bicycle traveling on a roadway has all the general rights and duties of an automobile on those roadways. In other words, yield to pedestrians, stop at stoplights and stop signs, and turn signals should be used. More and more bike lanes are being built and painted around Harrisonburg, however from time to time, you’ll be forced to share the road with other vehicles. In those cases, stay on the right half of the road, stay with the traffic flow, and follow traffic laws.
- Shine bright like a diamond, or a blinker: According to Virginia law, front and rear lights must be attached to a rider when it’s dark outside, and that makes sense. When driving on busy roads at night, do everything you can do to be more visible to other drivers. Much like an automobile, a red blinker can be affixed to your backpack or the rear of your bike, and a white light or blinker attached to the handlebars. Both lights can be purchased for roughly ten dollars each, and their battery life will more than likely outlast your time at JMU.
- Courtesy is key: It’s entirely legal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in town and on campus, however, a set of courtesies needs to be adhered to. For starters, avoid using the sidewalk in high traffic areas during high traffic times. For example, Traveling through the Commons at 11 AM on a Monday will leave you greeted by a human obstacle course. If you find yourself caught in such a frenzy of students, be sure to make yourself heard when passing pedestrians on their right or left, and be sure to yield to them at crossings.
- Take out your ear buds: Avoid using an iPod or listen to any music while commuting. If pedestrians are listening to music, and you’re listening to their music, neither party can hear each other, and that’s a bad time when attempting to communicate with each other.
Commuting on campus is an experience that saves gas, cuts down on the aggravation of finding parking, and helps you in leading a healthier lifestyle. So besides these tips, visit The League of American Bicyclists, your local bike shop to ask about defensive cycling courses, gear and apparel to get started, or virtually any other questions you may have about your bike!
Learn about UREC Bike Rentals by visiting our Equipment Center webpage or stop by the UREC Equipment Center next time you are at UREC!
Written by Erik Bailey, a JMU Kinesiology Student and UREC Adventure Specialist.
We want you to be well informed about everything that UREC has to offer YOU! UREC has opportunities for everyone and we want to help you find your place in our facilities, services or programs.
Spend a few minutes at a Club Gymnastics practice and it will be clear that this is a very diverse group of young men and women. Talent ranges from beginner to seasoned veteran, and the dynamic of practice constantly switches from light-hearted conversation to moments of intense focus in seamless fashion. Like many club teams at JMU, Club Gymnastics knows how to work hard and how to have fun doing it.
Vice President Drea Ewen was able to elaborate on the atmosphere in the Godwin gymnastics room. “I love JMU Club Gymnastics because we enjoy goofing around with each other and have fun at practice, but we also work really hard and have a competitive edge at meets. This amazing group of people is not only my team, but it is also my second family. I honestly could not imagine my JMU experience without this incredible team.”
JMU’s Club Gymnastics team will be hosting a meet in the Godwin main gym on Saturday, February 15th. The meet, called the Hugs and Kisses Classic because of its proximity to Valentine’s Day, will feature teams including UMD, Emory, Miami Ohio, UVA, and Penn State. Although putting on a home meet is no easy task, especially for a sport with as much equipment as gymnastics, club members are up to the challenge and are looking forward to competing in front of their friends and family. To say thank you to all the supporters that attend, the team will be giving out free baked goods, drinks, and snacks. The famous JM(i <3)U t-shirts will be on sale for $10 as well.
The club sees this meet as an opportunity for new members to gain experience and for older members to get ready for the national tournament. From April 2nd to the 6th, Club Gymnastics will compete at Nationals in Chattanooga, Tennessee hosted by the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC).
“With strong returning members and our new talent that just joined the team, I believe that we have a great chance of winning Nationals this years,” Ewen stated. “Last year we placed second as a team which is the best we have done in the history of JMU Club Gymnastics, but we are not going to settle for runner up again this year.”
Club Gymnastics is a student run organization, and all skill levels are welcome to come out and participate. Anyone hoping to experience the club is welcome to come out to practices, which are held in the Godwin gymnastics room from 7:00 - 9:00 PM, Sunday through Thursday. Feel free to email Drea at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dear JMU Colleagues,
JMU campus endures the cold of winter. Above, JMU staffer Frank Doherty captured this image of the fountain at Burruss Hall turning to ice in December 2013.
Welcome back to a new semester at JMU! I hope that each of you enjoyed a peaceful and safe winter break. Many of us have been back at work since January 6 preparing for the new semester. It has been eerily quiet and far too cold! I look forward to the activity on our campus brought about by the pursuit of learning.
I want to take a few moments at the threshold of a new semester to share a few updates on recent news and developments.
The Search Committee for the Dean of the College of Integrated Science and Engineering (CISE) has identified and invited three candidates to campus for interviews. These interviews are anticipated to occur in January and early February.
The Search Committee for the Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship has identified four candidates to be invited for campus interviews. These interviews are being scheduled to occur after the CISE Dean interviews.
Finally, the Search Committee for the Dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Studies is finalizing their selection of candidates for on-campus interviews. These interviews will be scheduled to follow the Vice Provost campus interviews.
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Events
A full week of events has been planned to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Activities and performances ranging from the Step Afrika dance performance to a March and Speak Out will take place January 13-20. The celebration will culminate with a formal program at 7:00 pm on Monday January 20 in Wilson Hall featuring keynote speaker Dr. Steve Perry. Click here to access the full listing of events.
Upcoming Meetings and Presentations
James Madison University continues to be well represented in national higher education organizations and events focused on issues represented in our strategic plan. For example, I will be representing JMU at several national meetings this semester such as: the College Board Colloquium (speaking on financial aid and its importance); the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges & Universities and its Presidents' Trust meeting (focused on engaged learning and improving student achievement); the annual conference of the American Council on Education (speaking on leadership); and the Association of Governing Boards (speaking on access).
Dr. Scott Paulson, Associate Professor of Physics and Cluster 3 Coordinator, is an invited faculty member to be showcased in a special Demonstrations of Innovation in Teaching series at the upcoming American Association of State Colleges and Universities conference. Dr. Paulson's presentation highlights the effective use of technology to support engaged pedagogy reflective of the student-faculty interaction consistent with our vision.
In addition to getting off to great start on campus, the Madison Collaborative has made numerous regional and national appearances. Professors Mark Piper and David McGraw presented a session on the Madison Collaborative at the International Conference on Ethics Across the Curriculum. Dr. Meg Mulrooney and Dr. Fletcher Linder presented at the Biennial Conference of the American Conference of Academic Deans and the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Dr. Keston Fulcher shared the project at the Northeastern Educational Research Association conference, and Dr. Josh Bacon and Mr. Dave Barnes presented at the Virginia Student Services Conference. The Madison Collaborative team continues to move forward with sessions on the Eight Key Questions on campus in the local community. Preliminary assessment data is under analysis and we look forward to sharing results in the future.
The Duke Hall expansion and renovation was completed during December 2013. All faculty and staff scheduled to move in the first phase are settled in the new space. Classes will begin as scheduled on January 13. The remainder of the operations will move into Duke after commencement in May including Painting, Ceramics, Sawhill Gallery, Jewelry & Metals and Printmaking. The spaces are beautiful and functional and will be a great benefit to JMU.
The Student Success Center & Health Center project continues to progress and is on track for a phased completion in late spring and mid-summer 2014. The Health Center will move into their facility March 10-14. The remainder of the departments will move in two phases: June 16 – July 1 and July 21 – August 1. Phase 1 will include Associate Vice President (AVP) for Student Success, Centennial Scholars, AVP Multicultural Awareness & Student Health, Community Service Learning, Disability Services, Learning Resource Center-Writing, Learning Resource Center-Math, Learning Resource Center-ELES, Judicial Affairs, Counseling Center, Information Technology, and Center for Faculty Innovation. Phase 2 will include Card Services, Financial Aid, University Business Office, Registrar, Orientation/Transfer and Career Academic Planning.
The university has leased a portion of the historic Ice House located in downtown Harrisonburg. The 28,000 square-foot facility will hold Outreach and Engagement, Office of Technology Transfer, University Communications and Marketing, the Small Business Development Center and several other College of Business outreach and grant programs. Renovations are currently under way and will be completed during the spring semester. This is an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration and engagement with the local community.
The Governor continued his investment in higher education in his last budget presented to the General Assembly on December 16. The 2014-16 biennial budget includes funding to further advance the goals of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 in the areas of affordability, access and reaching 100,000 new Virginia student degrees. The Governor's budget allocates $183.1 million in additional higher education funding. A few areas of funding for higher education include the following:
• Degree Incentives $63.0 million
• Undergraduate Financial Assistance $29.4 million
• Enrollment Growth $21.0 million
• Research Initiatives $14.6 million
• Base Operations $13.5 million
• Institutional Specific Initiatives $7.1 million
• Performance Based Initiatives $5.7 million
While the Governor's proposed budget does not include base salary increases, a contingent bonus of up to two or three percent depending on employee's performance is included. As stated on numerous other occasions, we will continue to make salary increases a top priority. We will follow and monitor budget changes during the General Assembly session, which began on Wednesday, January 8.
Tom Dingledine, a longtime friend and benefactor of James Madison University, has gifted 37 acres in the Northern Neck of Virginia for JMU students and faculty to use as a field laboratory for research and teaching. In addition to the 37 acres at Bluff Point, Dingledine recently placed an adjacent 860-acre parcel into a conservation easement held by the North American Land Trust that provides JMU the opportunity to conduct research and teaching exercises in its pine forests and saltwater marshes neighboring the Chesapeake Bay.
University faculty who have visited the site are eager to study areas such as water quality, marsh ecology, archaeology, geology, engineering, shore land mapping, public history and environmental writing. Learn more.
Grow By Degrees
The Grow By Degrees program aims to fuel Virginia's continued economic recovery and sustained growth through high impact investments and innovations in Virginia's colleges and universities. This coalition has promoted a vision of expanding job opportunities and economic growth through reinvestment in our state's higher education system. Program goals include creating cost efficient new ways to access college degrees, making college affordable for low and middle-income families, and increasing public-private collaboration on university-based research. More information on this program can be found at http://growbydegrees.org/.
Madison Vision Series
I am thrilled to announce that Kat Imhoff, President and CEO of the Montpelier Foundation, will present a lecture for the Madison Vision Series on Tuesday, March 18 at 3:30 pm in Grafton-Stovall Theater. Ms. Imhoff will visit with students and faculty throughout the day. Her multi-media lecture will incorporate Civic Engagement and the Power of Place; connecting the relevance of history to the 21st Century.
Carly Fiorina will present a lecture on April 9. Ms. Fiorina is the chair of Good360. She is the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, and serves on the JMU Board of Visitors. Carly established Carly Fiorina Enterprises to focus on powerful levers for unlocking human potential. These include Championing Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Building Leaders and Organizational Capacity; Engaging Women; and Targeted Philanthropy.
We expect to soon confirm a date for Jeff Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, to visit JMU.
We will be celebrating our institution's mission and honoring the legacy of the man known as the Father of the Constitution during Madison Week, March 17-21.
JMU's week-long celebration of the fourth president's 263rd birthday will include the Diversity Conference on Monday titled "Engaging our Community and Creating Change", and a lecture in the Madison Vision Series on Tuesday featuring speaker Kat Imhoff from the Montpelier Foundation. The national conference "Intelligence in the Transition from War to Peace," featuring the CIA's declassified documents from the war in Bosnia/the Balkans in the 90's, will occur on Wednesday and Thursday and will bring national and international dignitaries, scholars and academics to campus. Friday will conclude with the annual Stewardship Luncheon. We will also continue the celebration on the Quad for students, staff and the community, as well as Madison-themed events with Dining Services and a day of volunteerism in the community.
Clearly we have a lot to look forward to in the coming semester. Thank you for all you do to make JMU a haven for learning and growth. I am grateful for your many contributions to our collective success.
Happy New Year,
James Bond movies are full of examples of the strategic use of intelligence analysis and geospatial intelligence. Those same technologies are used in everyday items such GPS or even weather updates received on a phone. JMU’s very own Dr. Tim Walton and Dr. James Wilson are coming together to bring that technology to the classroom through their class, Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GEOG 469), which focuses on the real world applications of geospatial intelligence.
The class intends to show students how they can take the skills and technologies utilized by geospatial intelligence experts within the geographic sciences and apply them to current real world themes and problems studied by the intelligence analysis community. To accomplish this goal, professors from each field of study are co-teaching this course. Walton, a former CIA analyst for 24 years, and Wilson whose background is in Geographic Science and Geospatial Analysis believe that “we bring different backgrounds to it,” explained Walton. “[Wilson] is the academic and the geographic, and I’m the former intelligence officer. We hope to give both of those perspectives to the students.”
According to Walton, the Intelligence program wanted to collaborate more with other parts of the university, and this course was a good place to do just that. It also keeps in mind the growing national need for graduates with experience in intelligence, providing students with both academic and practical skills in geospatial intelligence. This discipline is a multi-layered way of looking at the world, taking into account geographic features, man-made infrastructures, and even different cultures and political systems. “This has real intelligence value in the world,” he said. “Trying to understand Syria, China, or Korea is often times a Geospatial endeavor.”
Intelligence analysis is a synthesis of this kind of information gathered as a way to make predictions based on this data, often seen in government intelligence agencies like the CIA or the British Secret Intelligence Service. “Hopefully at the end of this course the students will have a better understanding of how those two come together,” said Wilson. “How do you apply the technology to analyze complex problems when you may not have the best data? That [knowledge] can be applied to lots of different scenarios.”
To help teach students how best to fully understand the multiple layers of a place and situation, the professors want to utilize modern examples of crisis, such as the Civil War in Syria, the threat of chemical weapons in Iran, and the dangerous drug trade across the US-Mexican border. “I like to incorporate real world examples that the students can relate to,” said Walton.
The course will focus heavily on the technologies utilized by the geospatial intelligence community, most notably GIS and spatial analysis. It will also discuss drones and satellites. “That is what drones were originally for – to look at things that it would be dangerous to send piloted aircraft to,” said Walton.
Since this course is a combination of the Geographic Science and Information Analysis programs, there is a strong focus placed on projects with teams mixed between both programs. “There is so much emphasis both in business and in the government on effective teamwork,” explains Walton. Tory Pugliese, a senior Geographic Science student, believes it’s a good idea that the course is open to students in both majors. “It gives us the opportunity to interact and share our skills and experiences gained from our own studies and apply it to the Geospatial Intelligence class discussion and projects,” she said.
As Walton put it, “this is the first time we’re going to run this class, so it’s going to be a learning experience for the professors along with the students.” Speaking on what students should take away from this course, both Walton and Wilson emphasized the appreciation of each side’s perspective, as well as many practical skills that the students can take to job interviews and eventually their future careers.
“This is a fairly rare skill,” explained Walton. “It’s valuable and there is a use for it, but not a lot of people have more than just kind of casual training.” With real world skills and experiences these students will take with them, this course is sure to be a valuable asset to anyone who has a particular interest in the intelligence community.
Teaching Analysis Polls (TAPS) provide faculty with feedback on what helps and hinders student learning. Conducted by faculty for faculty, TAPS are held between weeks 5-9 of the semester. Registration closes when 80 requests are received.
Applications are now being accepted for three Faculty Associate positions in the Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI). The CFI works to enhance academic culture by encouraging excellence in teaching, scholarship, service, and leadership for JMU faculty. Faculty Associates are selected from among full-time, 10-month JMU instructional faculty who receive a course release during the fall and spring semesters (optional summer stipends for Center-related work are also available in some cases). Joining a diverse and collaborative team for up to three academic years, Faculty Associates contribute substantially to the development, delivery, and evaluation of CFI programs that support the development of JMU faculty. Faculty Associates have the opportunity to work closely with a CFI faculty professional in one or more of the Center's primary areas of focus: teaching, scholarship, career development, and academic culture. New associates will be selected in spring 2014 and begin their work with the CFI in the summer or fall 2014. In addition to the specific positions detailed below, all applicants must possess an interest in university faculty development, be well organized, and be willing to work collaboratively on team-based initiatives.
Career Development Area Faculty Associate
The CFI’s Career Development Area is dedicated to efforts that cut across the teaching, research, and service/leadership domains of faculty life. Career Development activities, initiatives, and programming provide opportunities for faculty at all stages of their careers to set clear goals, identify concrete action plans, and document effectiveness and excellence as part of continuous improvement in faculty improvement and success. Read more about the Career Development Area, including area outcomes and current activities. Faculty Associates in the Career Development Area have the opportunity to play integral roles in planning, deploying, and assessing career development workshops, roundtables, institutes, and other activities. These include centerpiece initiatives in Career Development, including New Faculty Orientation and Academic Portfolio Institutes, as well as Madison Career Fellows and Peer Orientation and Development Groups. Associates will also work with faculty and CFI’s Authentic Partners to create programming and events that respond to faculty interests and needs in career development. Faculty with experience or interests in learning more about faculty mentoring; faculty performance assessment and evaluation; academic governance and leadership; and the integration of teaching, research, and service/leadership are particularly encouraged to apply.
Teaching Area Faculty Associate
The CFI provides an array of inclusive, evidence-based workshops, institutes, communities, and consultations designed to encourage, foster, and support excellence in teaching and learning. To that end, we welcome applications from candidates interested in a Faculty Associate position in the Teaching Area. Read more about the Teaching Area, including outcomes and current activities. The candidate selected for this position will focus primarily on course and curriculum development initiatives such as jmUDESIGN. Ideal applicants will possess some or all of the following characteristics: knowledge of evidence-based pedagogies, awareness of trends and innovations in teaching and learning, experience teaching online and/or hybrid courses, and proficiency in course and curriculum development.
Scholarship Area Faculty Associate
For the Scholarship Area Faculty Associate position, the CFI encourages applications for this position from faculty who have interest in and/or experience with working on initiatives involving the scholarship of teaching and learning, the scholarship of engagement, scholarly writing programs, and/or research methodology. The CFI respects the diversity of scholarship that JMU faculty engage in and seeks to be responsive to that diversity by offering inclusive, evidence-based enrichment opportunities. Scholarship Programs create a vibrant community of scholars engaged in mindful, scholarly pursuits, both individually and collectively. Read more about the Scholarship Area, including area outcomes and current activities. Ideal candidates will be accomplished practitioners whose scholarship agendas align with the scholarship of teaching and learning, the scholarship of engagement, research methodology, and/or scholarly writing. Preference will be given to a candidate who will focus on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).
- Cover letter, indicating relevant experience and/or interest and which area(s) for which you wish to be considered.
- Current Curriculum Vita.
- Letter of nomination (generally nominations are provided by peers or administrators with knowledge of your work and strengths as a faculty member).
- Endorsement statement from your Academic Unit Head (AUH). Endorsements need only indicate support and can take the form of the following:
"I support ___________________'s application for the position of CFI Faculty Associate.
- Submit items 1 and 2 to email@example.com by Friday, January 31 at 5pm.
- Ensure that items 3 and 4 are also submitted by the deadline. For cases in which the AUH is also the nominator, the AUH should submit each document separately, but may supply both as part of the same email.
Michael Amankwa (’99) returned home to Ghana and set up CoreNett Limited, which provides technologically advanced financial services and enhances the lives of people living in many African countries.
After graduation, alumni from the College of Business take their skills and knowledge to many different places. Michael Amankwa (‘99) went farther than most.
After graduating from JMU with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and completing his Master of Science degree in information technology and telecommunication systems at the Johns Hopkins University, Amankwa spent a few years at Booz Allen Hamilton before returning to his home country, Ghana, in 2005.
“I believe Africa has a lot to offer to the rest of the world and I definitely have a key role to play in telling the African story,” said Amankwa.
There he set up CoreNett Limited, a transactions processing management company that provides cutting edge solutions to retailers, governments and other institutions for processing electronic transactions. Amankwa carries out all executive functions for CoreNett Limited, which has become a multinational company.
Enhancing Africa one technological service at a time
CoreNett offers many innovative services including, but not limited to, branchless banking, a social networking platform for consumers and enterprisers, and technology allowing users to access financial services without having to step foot inside a building.
The experiences he gained at JMU and in America prepared Amankwa to return home and help enhance not just Ghana, but all of Africa. He recalls many professors and courses, specifically those in computer information systems, programming and business administration impacting him and preparing him for his career.
On running his own company, Amankwa says he enjoys the ability to follow his visions and lead his team toward success. He stresses the importance of giving credit to everyone who works hard to improve the company, rather than taking it all for himself.
As for CoreNett itself, the future is bright. As the company continues to enter multiple markets throughout Africa, it is headed toward touching the lives of millions worldwide by enhancing technology and making it easier to “transact, create wealth, and socially connect.”
Helping families become financially stable
One family in particular has been impacted significantly thanks to the technological advancements of CoreNett. Rashidatu relocated to Accra, Ghana, in 2009 with hopes of providing a steady income to her family, which was facing economic troubles. With seven siblings and parents who didn’t have a stable income, she hoped to make a solid income and improve the quality of life for her family.
After Rashidatu started making a steady income, she attempted to send money home to her family. However, she found that the banks in Ghana were complicated and tried to charge her large transfer fees for sending money.
Finally, Rashidatu heard about CoreNett’s Mobile Money service, which allows her to save a portion of her income each day on her Mobile Money wallet. At the end of each month, she can securely send the savings to her family directly from that wallet. Once the transfer is complete, her family simply walks to the nearest ATM and retrieves the money.
Previously, there was a gap between people who could afford complicated banking services in Ghana and those who, like Rashidatu and her family, could not. Now, thanks to CoreNett’s innovative service, she can support herself and her family in a safe and user-friendly manner.
Advice for current students
Amankwa advises current business students to study hard and persevere when it gets tough. “See challenges as opportunities, learn from failures, and believe in yourself. If others have done it, you can equally do it and do it better.”
By following his own advice, Amankwa continues to contribute to the African story while “innovating and tackling the challenges of modern day society,” an aspect of his job that he finds to be most rewarding.
By Alix Carlin (Communication studies, ’14)
Megan Flosdorf, Brad Burgess, and Jason Darby,
in the location where their plaques will be displayed.
Named after NIRSA's (Leaders in Collegiate Recreation) founder the William N. Wasson Student Leadership and Academic Awards recognize exceptional undergraduate and graduate students who set the standard in recreation departments on campuses across the country. Up to six students in each of the six regions of the country are given this award.This year, three James Madison University students, undergraduate student Brad Burgess, and graduate students Jason Darby, and Megan Flosdorf were honored.They will be presented with their awards at the NIRSA Annual Conference in Nashville, TN in April.
"The application numbers for this award in our region are very high, so it is a competitive process," Steve Bobbitt, UREC Associate Director for Programming, said. "UREC has had twelve winners total in 18 years, which is exceptional, so to have 3 winners in one year is exciting. It demonstrates how our investment in student development over the years is paying off." Director of University Recreation, Eric Nickel said, “We are extremely proud of these JMU students who have displayed both academic success as well as leadership to our campus. All three of them are high quality people who richly deserve this honor."
Brad Burgess (JMU '14) is currently a senior in the Sports & Recreation Management major and serves as the Sport Club Council President. Brad is also the founder and was first president of the JMU Golf Club. Brad’s passion emanates through his interactions with our sport club participants, staff, and other leaders on JMU’s campus. Since Brad became part of our recreation family, he excelled by creating relationships with various sport club participants. Current Presidents attend monthly meetings led by Brad and they describe these meetings as relevant, informative, and efficient. Brad has also been a part of the JMU Study Abroad program, Delta Sigma Phi, Relay for Life and First Tee of Harrisonburg.
Jason Darby (JMU '14M) is currently the Graduate Assistant for Intramural Sports and Special Events, completing his Master's Degree in Campus Recreation Leadership. Jason has assisted the Intramural Sports program growth by displaying exemplary leadership traits, such as implementing new staff policies and procedures in response to the addition of two new program facilities, assessing Site Manager training for expanding the knowledge of our students, and mentoring students about their potential careers in campus recreation. He has collaborated with the office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Orientation and also taken leadership roles in special events such as Nightmare at UREC and the Dukes' 5k. Jason serves NIRSA as the current Virginia State Student Leader, and has served on multiple presentations and program committees. Jason has also held internships at the University of Mississippi and UCLA Departments of Recreation.
Megan Flosdorf (JMU '12, '14M) is currently the Graduate Assistant for Sport Clubs and Youth Programs, completing her Master's Degree in Campus Recreation Leadership. As a student at JMU, Megan was the President of Women's Club Water Polo and served on the Sport Club Executive Council for two years. Megan has creatively implemented large scale events such as our Sport Club End of Year Celebration and our annual Fall in Love with Harrisonburg service event. Megan's greatest attribute is her dedication to student development and the Sport Club Council (SCC). Her dedication to student development as a Graduate Assistant connects directly to her class work, as she is working on her thesis "An Exploration of a Sport Club President’s Experience,” a qualitative study about the learning that takes place as a Sport Club President. Megan has also been the lead counselor for Camp UREC, volunteered at Camp Thunderbird, and led and participated in numerous Alternative Break Trips.
JMU professor, donor and renowned literary critic Ralph Cohen (right), and Cohen Center Director Larry Burton.
Human beings have never been satisfied with the world as nature presents it. We keep inventing things ‚ ways to stay warm, to go faster, to connect. We‚ invented technologies to make life easier and to save it.
Anyone who has watched teenagers sit side by side and text each other on their smart phones, however, has glimpsed one of the more questionable effects of technology on us.
The connection between technology and the human has been an intimate one ever since we first began responding to our external environment, says Larry Burton, director of JMU‚ new Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism. Take, for example, the lever, clothes or toothpaste. Consider cars, drones and buildings. Think of language, abstract concepts, ways of thinking, and societal structures like schools and governments. Technology is anything human-made ‚Äî all of the things we build for and around ourselves.
All education is for the future.’— Ralph Cohen
The complex questions that arise from this interrelatedness require intentional, rational human study, according to Burton. And investigating the implications of such a broad intellectual landscape requires the input of all the academic disciplines.
That‚ the reasoning behind JMU‚ ambitious new graduate-level Cohen Center, which has been funded by a gift from the internationally renowned scholar and donor Ralph Cohen and his late wife, Libby. The center will operate on the principle that ‚collaborative, networked and shared research that bridges the ‚ two cultures‚ of humanism and technology is of utmost importance as our society becomes increasingly technological, interconnected and global, JMU announced.
Inspiration for the center began with Burton‚ recruitment of Cohen, his former mentor, to teach in JMU‚ School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication several years ago. Burton knew Cohen as a visionary scholar and eminent literary critic who throughout his professional life has refused to stay in his own intellectual lane.
A former UCLA and University of Virginia professor, Cohen established and then edited for 40 years the respected journal, New Literary History, so named, the founder says, to keep scholars looking forward, not back. A prolific author, Cohen also spent years teaching around the world ‚ in Australia, China, France, Israel, Russia and Scotland ‚ with his wife and intellectual partner of 73 years, Libby, who was a library science scholar and native Russian.
That‚ in the past, Cohen says. We absorb the past, but all education is for the future. If we do this right, we are going to find out what a new kind of knowledge is. Knowing how fields interrelate is something that a university education should provide.
Nearing 100 years old and impressed with JMU‚ openness to change and fresh thinking, Cohen has found a home for his vision and his passion. I came to JMU to be part of an exciting university, he says. I want to contribute. That‚s all I care about. Two years ago, he donated much of his personal scholarly library, including many rare volumes, to JMU Libraries.
Through his work in WRTC, Cohen has found a university environment with the right ingredients for a donor and scholar to make a difference. He notes the rich undergraduate Madison Experience that has led to a doubling in the last 15 years of the number, and increased prestige, of JMU graduate- and doctoral-level programs.
The center will have a significant impact on graduate education at JMU, says Reid Linn, dean of the Graduate School. The potential is great for collaboration and linking hands across disciplines and fields of inquiry that are not possible today. There will be a physical space and library, which will create a dynamic environment for our graduate students and faculty to meet and investigate significant trends and issues of the day. That exciting.
Traci Zimmerman, interim head of WRTC, imagines the potential impact among JMU graduate scholars in assessment, biology, business, communication sciences and disorders, education, information security, integrated science and technology, music, nursing, and psychology. Think of the expertise the faculty and students in our graduate disciplines can bring to bear on investigations into technology and humanism.
The Cohen Center will be unique in Virginia and sponsor research opportunities, fellowships and speakers. It will be housed in WRTC in the College of Arts and Letters under Dean David Jeffrey. M
Technology: Anything human-made
Activities: Research, fellowships, colloquia, symposia, speakers
Scholars: Graduate faculty, students
Outcomes: A national model of
networked, collaborative and active scholar-citizens
Funded by: A gift from Ralph and the late Libby O. Cohen
Location: School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
Michelle Amaya and Carly Starke talk to Melinda Adams, assistant director of the JMU Honors Program (center).
Hillcrest Scholarships vault honors students into promising futures
By Jan Gillis ('07)
What if bright, engaged students could pursue their passions out in the real world and see what happens?
Honors Advisory Council members established the Hillcrest Scholarships to give JMU honors students that opportunity, and the experiences of the inaugural award recipients Carly Starke ('14) and Michelle Amaya ('14) illustrate the potential these scholarships unleash.Read why the Honors Advisory Council took a philanthropic approach to the future
Starke, a biotechnology major and winner of the Hillcrest Scholarship for Research, had a very specific focus: "I love finding what no one else has discovered," she says. Her scholarship experience working at the Food and Drug Administration on the development of a new typhoid vaccine gave her a chance to be at the forefront of discovery.
Amaya, a biology major, had no doubts about what she would do if she won an award. "Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor," she says. Through the Hillcrest Scholarship for Service/Leadership she gained training as a nurse's aide and traveled to La Paz, Bolivia, for a hands-on experience with Child Family Health International.
The experiences were empowering for both students.
"FDA was my first experience in government research," Starke says. "Every day was different. I could look at my results and change conditions of my research the next day to see what would work better." She got the chance to share her work with leading scientists and researchers at a National Institutes of Health poster session. "I talked to people who I look up to. They were interested in what I did, how I conducted my research and my findings," she says.
Amaya's work with doctors and mentoring impoverished and at-risk orphaned youth affirmed her childhood ambition. "CFHI in Bolivia was my first medical humanitarian trip and a milestone in my life. Without the scholarship, I wouldn't have had that moment of affirmation — of knowing it's my calling to serve others through medicine."
Both say their experiences helped them define their future.
'My ultimate goal is a Nobel Prize. I know it's a big goal, but I can push myself toward it.' — Carly Starke
"I want to do vaccine development," Starke says. "I enjoy the molecular biology aspect of it, as well as testing out conditions. My ultimate goal is a Nobel Prize. I know it's a big goal, but I can push myself toward it."
Amaya says, "In Bolivia, I saw doctors who lacked the extensive equipment that is common in America use their hands to diagnose conditions. I knew I would like to do that." Realizing that her hands might well be the only tools at her disposal in the future as a doctor abroad, she is applying to osteopathic medical schools. "Many of these schools have a mission of global health and serving others, while adopting a holistic approach to wellness. Your hands become your tools," she says.
In establishing these scholarships, Honors Advisory Council members were determined that the recipients would have the potential to make important contributions to society in the future. Certainly, the first Hillcrest Scholars have a firm grasp on their future direction. And, their goals make the future look brighter for us all.
"We give because JMU has always made a point to hire professors who want to teach, who want to have contact with students, who want to guide them and mentor them. JMU is distinct in this way. By supporting the faculty we are also supporting students. So we have created two endowments in support of the wonderful professors here at JMU."’ — Robin (’83) and Clem Goodman (’84) Madison alumni, parents and donors of two Goodman Faculty Support Endowments
Robin (’83) and Clem Goodman (’84) Madison alumni, parents and donors of two Goodman Faculty Support Endowments
The Betty Coe (’64) and Paul Cinquegrana Legacy will fund: College of Business Chair in Ethics and Leadership; Presidential Chair to rotate through the university at the president’sdiscretion and recognize excellence in teaching, research or another core Madison value; College of Business Scholarship in Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership; Existing Scholarship in Education to support future teachers
While my classmates were reveling in their first taste of (relative) freedom and independence amid the beauty of Madison's bluestone campus, I remember gray winter days and gray buildings.
Quite frankly, my first student days at Madison in the early 1960s were not happy ones. I know that sounds like heresy among Madisonians, known as we are for our welcoming and positive attitudes. To be truthful, I did not even want to come to Madison in the first place. It's just that I couldn't afford to go anywhere else, and Madison was the only college to offer me the financial assistance I needed to attend college.
My mother, a divorced mom raising two children, could only afford to give me $100 toward my college expenses, and she had to borrow that $100. I think the tuition was approximately $600 a year then, but as today's struggling college students know when you don't have it, any amount seems impossible to raise.
As it turns out, Madison was exactly where I belonged.
The experience gave me everything I needed to be successful. And my Madison days were happy ones, after all. I am forever grateful that I was able to attend Madison. I thank my teachers at Louisa County High School who encouraged me to go to college. They helped me find local scholarships my freshman year so I didn't have to work during my first year at Madison.
I attended Madison for four years, graduating in 1964. My tuition, room and board were paid for by scholarships, primarily state teachers scholarships and work-study grants, which had me working in the library or in the dining hall. I would never have been able to attend Madison without the help I received.
So today I give to JMU in appreciation of having been given to by others.
I started out at Madison as a math major. I soon realized some business training would be very helpful in getting summer jobs to make some money for books, clothes and other living expenses. So I changed my major to business education, although math was thought to be a more glamorous major. That business major served me well in my teaching and in my personal life, helping my husband, Paul, in his business career.
Therefore I want to give to Madison, to business students and to future teachers. Paul and I never had children, but I feel good knowing that because of our efforts, Paul and I can help some young people who want to get an education.
Now I have a word for my Madison contemporaries. When Paul and I were preparing our wills and mentioning relatives who would be beneficiaries of some assets, Paul said he wanted the remainder of our estate to go to his high school, DeMatha Catholic High School, and his alma mater, the University of Maryland. I spoke up and said I wanted Madison in the mix. Paul wholeheartedly agreed; he just hadn't thought of it. So a word of wisdom to my fellow Madisonians: Remember JMU when you and your spouse are preparing your wills.
A word of wisdom to my fellow Madisonians: Remember JMU when you and your spouse are preparing your wills.— Betty Coe Cinquegrana (’64)
In the last year or so I have been prevailing through some health issues. As all of you who have attained my level of experience know, it's a time of looking ahead to the lasting impact and legacy we will make with our lives.
I look out over the world today, and I am often troubled by what I see. I wonder where we are headed as a nation and as a society. I am passionate about the need for free and ethical enterprise and an ethical citizenry. That's what will drive a robust economy and a culture of innovation and discovery.
I know a gift to Madison can help address the societal issues I feel passionate about and help make the world a better place. That is why my bequest will fund a chair and a scholarship for ethics and leadership in the College of Business. I am delighted to learn about the universitywide Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action program. To pick up on that insightful 2013 Orientation Week slogan, I knows complicated. That is why my bequest also supports future teachers and funds a presidential chair that will rotate around the university. Life is complicated, and we must prepare our students with the broad knowledge and skills to make wise decisions. When they graduate, the world will be in their hands.
I'm giving to Madison because I know I'm helping JMU create a brighter future. I urge you to do the same.
Betty Cinquegrana’s scholarship helped prepare recipient Bethany Mann (’12, ’13M) for great things. The Phi Beta Kappa member majored in math as an undergrad, earned her master’s in teaching at JMU and now teaches math at Staunton River Middle School in Moneta, Va.
Community as a concept is so vague that it is impossible for people to agree on a single definition. For Dr. Aaron Bodle, assistant professor in the College of Education, this lack of consensus about communities is precisely why the use of community is such powerful educational tools. Whether it be teaching how to build effective communities of learners in his education classes, conducting research about the resettlement experiences of displaced people and refugees, or organizing community summits that address the needs of children in Harrisonburg, Bodle is passionate about building vibrant communities—despite the fact that no one can seem to agree on what communities are, what they should look like, or who should belong.
Learning from and generating a sense of community was not always the easiest for Bodle. As he expresses, “When I began teaching English to seventh-graders, I dreamed of creating classroom environments where my students treated one another with respect, and where we could come to agreements on what was important about the literature we were reading at the time, in my head, this was a utopia!” But Bodle goes on to mention that “It didn’t take long for me to realize my students had other ideas in mind. While they were required to treat each other with respect, there simply was no way for me to convince them to see things the same way, nor was my vision the least bit desirable.”
However, Bodle soon realized that moments of disagreement, often created by his students, were the richest learning experiences he could facilitate for them. “Disagreements were generative as long as we all came to the table with a willingness to hear the other side,” he recalled.
Today, Bodle encourages the same generative tensions in his education classes at JMU, but notes that they rarely occur. “I think most of my students have been socialized to avoid conflict, even when that means they silence some of their deepest held beliefs about the topic under discussion,” Bodle said. He added that some of the more disconcerting times are “when students are made to feel their opinion doesn’t matter, or their stance is invalid.”
Bodle believes that “Breaking these silences is the pathway to building truly vibrant learning communities in the classroom and beyond,” and hopes, that unlike his experience as an early-career educator, his students will enter the teaching profession “prepared to organize their classrooms in ways that will allow students to develop a belief that each of their voices matter and deserve to be heard, even when they aren’t in agreement with the majority. Societies can only grow when the voices of the marginalized are taken seriously by the rest.”
Bodle draws inspiration for his work from author, social activist, and educator Gloria Jean Watkins, who states, “To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” For Bodle, the only way to start this process of change is to promote and support students’ critical thinking from an early age. “We have to help young children build the critical thinking skills they can use to empower themselves,” he said. “We can help them believe that the voices from the margins that have something new to say are extraordinarily valuable for bringing about social change.”
According to Bodle, we must also start building communities outside the classroom. For Bodle and education colleague Dr. Tim Thomas a community building summit will put their beliefs into action.
On March 3, 2014, the two colleagues will host The Whole Community/The Whole Child: A Summit to Build Networks of Care for Children in Harrisonburg. This summit is one of eight events organized in conjunction with "A Book for the 'Burg," a shared community reading series co-sponsored by JMU, The City of Harrisonburg, Eastern Mennonite University, Massanutten Regional Library, and The Arts Council of the Valley.
Bodle explains, “We saw ‘A Book for the ’Burg’ as the perfect opportunity to put to the test our mutual belief in the power of education to prepare students for civic participation, to bring seemingly different groups and individuals together, and to build communities by learning through our differences.”
The Whole Community/ The Whole Child invites student groups, community groups, faith-based organizations, academic and community leaders, educators, students, and anyone who is interested to come together in order to solve the problems related to the general welfare of children including those issues in health and education. Bodle is optimistic about obtaining similar results to the results he experienced with his first group of seventh-graders and urges stakeholders to “come with a commitment to having honest conversations about the needs of children in our community.”When asked if he hopes to rekindle those “generative tensions” he discovered with his seventh-graders he replied, “Absolutely. There is no better way to solve problems than putting our heads together.”
Quotations inspire me… I carry them with me, read books of them, print relevant ones on special paper for workshop participants, create class agendas with special quotes for each session, frame them for myoffice, and look forward to two arriving by e-mail each morning. I resonate with the way that some people are able to capture illusive concepts with artfully composed words. These quotes frame what sustains me.
Sitting in the pew on a Sunday morning I experienced one of those moments where I felt that the pastor had written the entire sermon for my benefit. The sermon was about important people in your life. He referred to them as the people in your balcony; the people that supported you, made a difference in your life, and molded you as a person. It is the people that are in my “balcony” and the hope that I one day will be in the “balcony” of someone else that sustains me.
A turning point in my educational career came at an early age. I was the type of student that did enough to get by. Why work harder than I needed to if I could make B’s without much effort? One afternoon during my fourth or fifth grade year I told my mom that I had finished my homework and asked to go out and play. I had hoped for a quick “yes” and just to be on my way, but as was our routine, my mom had wanted to review my work first. I could tell by the look on her face that she was aware that I had rushed a bit on some of my math problems. Next thing I knew my composition notebook was hurled back at me. I could not believe that my own mother threw a book at me! She had told me that I was better than the work that I was producing. Her expectation was that my effort would match my ability. Through a combination of wanting to please my parents, realizing that getting things right meant I got to go outside sooner and fear (did I mention the book throwing?) I strived to improve my efforts and began to produce work that represented what I knew. I see myself in many of the students that I teach. I also understand that many students today are not growing up the way that I did. Not all of them have a parent pushing them to be better. I’m not advocating book throwing, but that was what I needed at that time. I want to encourage my students to reach their full potential. I want them to see that their grade is not something that I gave them, but rather something they earned. Helping students to reach their full potential sustains me.
Another person in my “balcony” was my fifth grade teacher Mr. Feinstein. He was significant because he was my first male teacher. On that first day of school my eyes were opened to a new possibility. I could become a teacher. For some of my students I am their first male teacher. I didn’t truly realize how significant being a male teacher was. However the world that I live in includes absent fathers as a result of divorce, incarceration, and death. I am a father figure for students, sometimes their only father figure. What an awesome task! I thought I just had to get them to be successful in class but for some students I also need to be a confidante, counselor, coach, protector and advocate. As Frederick Douglass said “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” The great responsibility of building strong children sustains me.
In Junior high Mr. Hauk was my math teacher. He was a short man, but what he lacked in height he more than made up for with enthusiasm. As is sometimes the case with students in their early teens our class was less than enthused about the math lesson. I don’t think this was planned, but while still talking to us, Mr. Hauk jumped up in the air and landed on his feet on top of his desk. Stunned silence ensued. This was something not seen outside of some sporting events and perhaps an acrobat show at the county fair. It is a moment that I have never forgotten. From that day on we as a class were always waiting and watching for the next time that Mr. Hauk might do something out of the ordinary. I liked that he was willing to be a little silly to get his point across. Our students know when we are not passionate about what we are teaching. Although I may not be jumping on tables every day (although I have stood on a couple) I try to share my enthusiasm with my students. Taking chances, being silly and doing something unexpected in the interest of keeping students engaged in learning sustains me.
My first teaching position began as a long-term substitute. I had some pretty big shoes to fill. My responsibilities were to teach math, science and social studies. It was here that Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Norris joined my “balcony”. Mrs. Wilson taught language arts and Mrs. Norris was our special education teacher. The three of us would teach Social Studies together in a large classroom. Mrs. Wilson was my mentor teacher and I learned so much about the craft of teaching from her. I often joke about her being the best sixth grade teacher I ever had because of our age difference (its mathematically possible that she could have taught me) but truthfully I’ve learned so much from her that she really is one of my best teachers. When it comes to planning there is no one above Mrs. Wilson. She has every contingency accounted for. The students in Mrs. Norris’ class received their math and science instruction from me. Mrs. Norris would join her students in my class, which was really our class. We would collaborate and co-teach the lessons together. The information I gleaned from Mrs. Norris regarding classroom management, making sure students were really listening and the beauty of the graphic organizer I still utilize today. I will forever be in their debt for taking a chance on a “newbie” teacher. I know their impression of me is what allowed me to continue teaching in the same school and on the same team when the person I was subbing for chose not to return. Knowing that my colleagues believe in me sustains me.
When I think about the people that are in my “balcony” it is not the amount of knowledge they possessed that placed them there, rather it is the relationships that they built with me that were so important to my development as a person and teacher. I wanted to be successful because I felt important to them, that what I did mattered. Knowing that I can have a similar positive impact on students as the people in my “balcony” makes me come to work everyday. I hope that someday I might find myself in the “balconies” of my students and colleagues.
Ian Linden is a sixth grade math teacher in the Harrisonburg City Public Schools. He is originally from Babylon, New York. Ianearned his undergraduate (’02) and graduate (’03) degrees from James Madison University. He has worked at Thomas Harrison Middle School for the entirety of his 11-year career. Ian currently resides in Harrisonburg, Virginia with his wife Rachel and two children Noah and Amelia. He is thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the What Sustains Us project.
Making split second decisions, fielding rapid-fire questions, continual multi-tasking, acute awareness of your surroundings at all times - A description of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange? Perhaps the boardroom of a multi-national corporation? How about the emergency room of a large metropolitan hospital? No, actually I am describing a typical day in my sixth grade classroom. Throw in the potential for snow, or a beautiful spring day and you can magnify these activities exponentially!
Those of us in public education understand the often all-consuming job of teaching. Now in my thirty-first year, you would think I have it down to a science, (even though I currently teach U.S. History!) Far from it! Each year has brought new challenges, and not just in the form of new students. I have been here long enough to witness the swing of the proverbial pendulum from a “middle school” philosophy that emphasized teaching through interdisciplinary, thematic units, allowing for flexible schedules, project based evaluations, cooperative learning, and team teaching, for example, to what I would call a “junior high school” model of rigid schedules with multiple class changes per day, departmentalized teachers, and high stakes evaluations.
In thirty-one years, I have also witnessed an explosion in technology, none of which was in use when I was training to become a teacher. Another significant change has been the increase in the diversity of our community’s population. Addressing the needs of students whose first language may not have been English and whose parents may not speak any English has been an ongoing challenge for our school system.
I didn’t expect teaching to be easy! About 120 students pass through my doors each day. I am one stop in their seven period school day. No matter how much energy I give to planning, preparing the classroom environment, interacting with the students during the hour they spend in my room, I never feel as if I have given them all that they need. And that can leave me feeling rather drained and discouraged. There are daily frustrations and challenges, some of which I can control and some that I can’t; yet, I have never thought of leaving education for another profession. So what does sustain me and what has sustained me for thirty plus years? I can say without hesitation that I have been fortunate enough to work with creative, energetic colleagues who have inspired me, challenged me, encouraged me and pulled me along. A positive work environment helps sustain us in any profession, but like many in the business of working with children, I am most strongly sustained by the children themselves.
It’s not rocket science that those of us who have been called to the noble profession of teaching must believe that we can do something to positively affect a child’s life, but even after all my years of experience I am still skeptical that the little I have to offer a student in 180 days could have that much impact. So, what sustains me the most are the small surprising moments that leave me feeling humbled and inspired. I think of these humbling moments as glimpses of realization that working with children goes much deeper than getting them to pass a test. Every once in awhile I get a glimpse into a child’s world and sometimes, if I’m lucky, the realization that I have and am somehow a part of that world. So the stories that follow are just some examples of how I have been humbled by students, moments that have touched me in a way that is sustaining.
I help sponsor an after school Ecology Club with my husband, a sixth grade science teacher. We collect recycling for the whole school and attempt to educate the student body about environmental issues. We have also raised money for projects that promote environmentally sound methods of improving the lives of people living in less fortunate circumstances than ourselves. There are Monday afternoons when I would just like to work alone in my quiet classroom. How do these kids have so much energy after a full day of school? But I am usually glad that I have spent time with this small group in a non-academic setting. Our club is open to all grades and all ability levels. Some members are fifth graders who are experiencing middle school for the first time. We have students who are in advanced classes and students who need extra support from resource classes. We are especially lucky to have a few seventh and eighth grade members who have been with us multiple years. I am always amazed by our older club members, who take on a leadership role by guiding the younger members, generating ideas, and just being good role models. If we need something done, these students practically have it done before we can explain! I do not take credit for teaching these skills, but I am gratified that I am able to help provide a forum for their leadership skills to grow. And I am inspired by the leadership qualities of students whose contributions to our world will go so far beyond their participation in Ecology Club.
Sponsoring an after school club is a refreshing venue for interacting with students, but of course, the majority of my time is spent in the classroom, teaching a state mandated curriculum. High stakes tests have dominated education long enough now that my current students have not known anything else. I am frustrated by how much pressure students and teachers feel to meet a standard. And I know the students get really tired of the constant push to get ready for a test. Many appear to be apathetic about the tests, homework, about school in general, but one student reminded me this year how much he and probably most really do care. Our school is now giving benchmark tests three times per year, in addition to spring SOL (Standard of Learning) tests. Because the tests are online, the students can see their scores immediately. I ask the students to raise their hands when they are ready to “submit” their tests so we can see their scores together. I like to be able to offer congratulations or words of encouragement. Many students show their anxiety by closing their eyes, crossing their fingers, etc. before submitting. And then there was Alan.
Alan is a very polite and cooperative young man. He works hard in class and he eagerly raises his hand to answer questions. The problem is that often his answers are just a little off target. It breaks my heart to tell him, “Not quite, but . . .” So, imagine my surprise when he scored a 100% on the first benchmark test of the year. I am ashamed to admit that my first thought was, “Could he have cheated?” I really didn’t think so since the test questions are randomized. I gave him my quiet congratulations in the computer lab while he grinned. But what came after we returned to the classroom is something I will hold onto. It was so spontaneous and genuine. When I offered him a more enthusiastic congratulations, he beamed and gave me a big hug. I could have cried! Alan’s response will improve my own perspective of how kids feel about being evaluated. Of course they want to do well and receive good scores, but because of Alan, I will humbly remember that kids really do care deeply.
I work with students of mixed abilities in each of my classes. This is a challenge that I feel I meet only adequately well. I am never satisfied that I have equally challenged my advanced students while helping those who struggle to successfully learn the same material. Alan reminds me how important achievement is to students, but Melissa reminds me how important a positive attitude and the ability to persevere is for success. Melissa reads well below grade level and receives speech services. At the beginning of the school year, she came to me, smiling shyly and asked, “Can I talk to you?” She proceeded to ask me if she would ever have to read out loud in class. I assured her that we didn’t do that very often in my class and if we did, I would not force any student to read out loud. As I didn’t really know Melissa very well yet, I didn’t know if she was going to be a student who just avoided participating or if there was true fear. As I’ve gotten to know her, she has become one of those students who inspires me to try a little harder. Despite her weaknesses, this is a girl who comes in smiling every day, easily holds a conversation with me and is always ready to work. Contrary to my initial concern that she might be looking for a way to avoid work, Melissa asks for help when she needs it, and then she applies that help to the task at hand. She has never looked discouraged, even when she doesn’t do well on a test. What teacher wouldn’t welcome a classroom full of students like Melissa? She is a “struggling reader,” but more than that she is a young lady who has so many valuable life skills. As her teacher, I am humbled by Melissa, a student who has not let her own weaknesses dictate the kind of person she is.
Occasionally, as teachers, we are given a belated gift that allows us knowledge of our impact. A few years ago I was asked if I would accept a high school senior who was interested in a teaching career to spend one period in my classroom every other day. The placement was part of a mentorship program open to seniors at our local high school. While I have worked with numerous college student teachers, I was a little hesitant because I had never been responsible for mentoring a high school student, but the young woman had been a very successful former sixth grade student of mine, so I agreed. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised by Anne’s ability to not only help students when I asked, but to really understand what students needed. She exhibited great poise and initiative for a high school student. Again, these were not qualities I taught her, but I felt very fortunate to have her in my classroom on those days. Anne is now in college, preparing to be a history teacher. I have happily written recommendations for her and am humbled to think that I played a small part in her career choice.
Anne is one example of a former student whose path I’ve later had the fortune to cross, but I will close with one additional small encounter that had a big humbling impact. My husband and I were attending a local art showing when I crossed paths with Ellen, who was helping with the show. Now in her twenties, I hadn’t seen Ellen since she was in middle school. She had been my student when I taught sixth grade Language Arts and Social Studies. Ellen was one of those memorable students simply because she was such a great student in so many ways. She worked hard, had a positive attitude, and great organizational skills – she had all the qualities for success. In addition, she was very bright, the daughter of two professors with a great family and all kinds of support and experiences. She was one of those students a teacher can’t help enjoying, but for me, at least, one of those students for whom I never quite felt I did enough. How could I challenge this model student who came to me with so many skills? Imagine my shock when Ellen told me at that art show that I was the best Language Arts teacher she ever had! What? After a highly successful high school career and four years at a prestigious college, she told me I was the best? I guess she could have said that to be nice, but she explained that I helped her so much with writing and really laid the foundation for her future success. How humbling to receive such praise from such a high- powered student. With the current trend of our legislative leaders promoting their philosophy of tying teacher evaluation to test scores, how wonderfully refreshing to receive an authentic assessment from a former student.
Teaching is hard work. If we are honest with ourselves, as professionals, we don’t go home every day feeling we have saved the world, much less individual children, but what has sustained me for 31 years are the moments that leave me humbled by my students. Moments that on the surface are fleeting and maybe seem insignificant, but as a collection, give me something to hold onto. Moments that remind me that what all children need hasn’t changed that much regardless of the pendulum’s swing or what language they speak at home. Moments that remind me I do have an impact. Who wouldn’t be sustained by that?
any problem with decency and self-respect and
whatever courage is demanded is to know where
you yourself stand. That is, to have in words
what you believe and are acting from.
William Faulkner (1956)
Personal Letter to Mr. David Kirk
Collected here are the reflections of select members of our collaborative learning community regarding what they rely upon to guide and sustain them when compelled by the need to take a stand, to speak out, or to take action. What deeply-held beliefs and convictions have they constructed on the basis of past experience and memorable relationships which inspires them to give voice and upon which they confidently draw for guidance when the need arises for making a decision of some consequence—especially when the fairness or righteousness of that decision is not readily apparent? What echoes from the past continue to resonate vividly and timelessly in their lives and help sustain them when Fate visits upon them matters infused with moral dilemma and/or ethical uncertainty?
We are at our best when we are successful in un-tethering ourselves from self-possessed impulses and permit ourselves instead to be held in sway by the power of our individual consciences. Enchantment of being lies in the channeling of decency and self-respect and courage of which Faulkner spoke when conflicted individuals arouse themselves and rise to the challenge of fostering engaging, uplifting, other-oriented personal and professional relationships; thus are healthy and sustainable communities created and maintained. What this collection attempts to capture are accounts of specific aspects of select individuals’ experience which accord them a sense of inner strength, a sense of purpose, and a sense of direction—in other words, which sustains them.
In the same manner that each artist has a muse, so it is that most of us have had at least one memorable, life-altering experience, have felt bonded by a cherished relationship, or have taken some less-traveled path which has helped (and continues to help) orient us to our personal true north whenever we are tested. These narratives (and others like them that will follow) are published with hope that by sharing these personal reflections we may come to know and appreciate our colleagues and friends a measure more intimately. It is also hoped that these literary gifts will help stir in students, colleagues, and others recollections of an experience or an encounter—perhaps long past—that once graced their lives, and that may continue to do so should they have the need or desire to summon them.
Dean of the College of Education
The College of Education “What Sustains Me” Project is a series of personal essays and/or artistic contributions about the heart of teachers and teaching. College of Education faculty, JMU faculty, and teachers from surrounding area Pre-K through 12th grade schools share their stories with you for the purpose of better understanding each other and our potential as a community. We invite you to read these stories in the hope that they will build a bridge that connects you with us. To begin the journey, read on…
Edward J. Brantmeier
Mary Beth Cancienne (Chair)
Cheryl L. Beverly
I must tell the story of Lawrence. He has occupied a special place in my heart and mind throughout my entire career. I met Lawrence when he entered my classroom on the first day of school and exclaimed, “My uncle got shot!” with the same excitement as if he had just found $5 on the sidewalk. This was my second year of teaching and I thought ‘we ain’t in Kansas anymore.’ Lawrence was almost seven years old, having failed Kindergarten twice. He and his younger brother lived in a four-room house with their grandmother, father (who was in and out of jail), and an ever-rotating cadre of family members. I am not sure that anyone in Lawrence’s house could read and neither could Lawrence.
So I proceeded on with my planned lessons for that first week, only to notice that Lawrence was so tired in the mornings that he could not keep his eyes open. He had a great breakfast at school, but struggled to stay awake most of the day. I was inexperienced, but I could see that my best-laid plans were not going to work. After inquiring with others in the school, I learned that this was nothing new. Lawrence just didn’t have a very good home situation. I felt like I was being told ‘you win some, you lose some.’
What now? I did not really know what to do, but I would not continue to act like I was teaching Lawrence and he just couldn’t ‘get it’ – I was not going to buy into that. I talked to him every day at lunch – he was quite a storyteller. And tell me stories he did! Many were conjured and quite exciting, later becoming the basis of most of his writing and reading instruction. I must admit, I had trouble figuring out when Lawrence was telling me a true story, simply because his life experiences of seven years were so completely different from my own. But one compelling, and sadly, true personal story made me decide to take some risks with him. He and his little brother frequently slept in their grandmother’s car. Later, I learned that this was her way of shielding them from the noise and whatever assorted things were happening in that house. During those times, Lawrence did not sleep and came to school exhausted – he was a tough little guy, but he was just seven years old. My routines with Lawrence changed – based on little I had learned in my teacher preparation. I found a cot, brought in soft blankets and pillow and created a bed for Lawrence. If he had been in the car the night before, he got a hot breakfast at school and slept for a few hours in the morning. While I was lucky to have administrators with common sense and the will to do the right thing for this child – the intriguing thing for me was that the other students in the class did not bat an eye. For them, it was the right thing to be doing. No one wondered why Lawrence was napping and they were not. Lawrence learned to read that year and also gained enough headway in math to be included in the 2nd grade math class. Maybe my students and I were learning other important lessons that year as well – lessons about caring and humanity.
I used to joke that I had ‘magic dust’ when my colleagues asked how I was able to teach these failing students to read. I really just gave them a safe place to read and write things that had meaning to them. I believed they would be successful. I think of special teachers who inspired me and I don’t say ‘well, Mrs. Smith was so knowledgeable in math’ but rather I say ‘you know, Mrs. Smith was the first math teacher that ever made me believe I was good at math.’
Like Lawrence and my students then, students I teach now have come to know that our class will always be their safe haven, the place where they, and I, will take risks and learn. I have learned that there are few ‘truths’ and there is no ‘silver bullet’ in education. I must constantly be open to the possibilities. What sustains me in this profession is both the challenge and excitement that being part of a learning community brings to my heart and soul. Even the sad stories, the children and adults for whom my best efforts just didn’t seem to be enough, have shaped me. It may be cliché, but those connections with learners are powerful. I look back on my career as an educator and I really cannot imagine doing anything else.
Karen Kellison began her career as a teacher of students with Learning Disabilities in a rural school divison west of Richmond, Virginia. This reality check included teaching and loving children living below poverty in homes without electricity, running water, and with dirt floors. Her interest in educational technology began with a computer shared among 20 teachers (and their students) and has grown into a professional career. She has 19 years as a teacher and administrator in public K12 schools and over 7 years of full time work in higher education. She served as Director of the M.Ed in Educational Technology at James Madison University from 2008-2012 and was awarded the 2012 Madison Distinguished Teacher Award for the College of Education. She is currently Associate Dean of Instructional Technology at Lord Fairfax Community College, directing instructional technology and distance learning initiatives for the college. Dr. Kellison holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology, Instructional Technology from the University of Virginia.
This past Friday's Board of Visitors meeting was the culmination of an 18-month long process of developing JMU's new strategic plan for 2014-2020.
It was a process that involved hundreds of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends and was informed by the input of hundreds and hundreds more. From the very beginning, we have wanted our strategic planning process to be inclusive because we knew that the best plan for our university would be the result of community and collaboration. I'm very proud of the result.
If you were involved in any way with the Madison Future Commission, I offer my sincerest thanks. I know it was a significant investment of time and passion. Your hard work certainly shows in the final result.
When the Board approved the new vision, values, core qualities and goals, it marked the beginning of an exciting new phase in our future together.
It starts with our new vision: To be the national model of the engaged university; engaged with ideas and the world. That idea of engagement will be in sharp focus for us as we create the future of JMU. Many have mentioned how excited they are about that vision and have also suggested that we provide more detail on what that will look like specifically. So, I have commissioned a task force that is currently at work painting a word picture of what "engagement" means for us. As their work concludes in the next month, we'll be sure to communicate clearly and frequently.
I also invite you to visit our planning website - http://www.jmu.edu/jmuplans. There you will find everything you need regarding the plan, including all of the new core qualities, their history and key goals. Over time, we'll also be adding key objectives as they are developed so you will have access to a clear picture of the plan as it evolves.
And that's where we are now - rolling up our sleeves to develop objectives and action steps in support of our key goals. What we have is a framework, but the true difference-making work will happen as colleges, schools and departments begin carrying out new objectives in support of our core qualities and goals. We'll use the plan to focus resources as best we can toward those objectives that support our vision and core qualities.
Finally, I want always to bring the focus back to our mission - We are a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives. That's the reason we exist and the highest purpose of our strategic planning process.
Thank you for all you do in support of that important mission.
By Sydney Palese
“Nomoshkar,” says Brenna Neimanis, a junior in the JMU social work program, as she presses her palms together, fingers directed toward the sky, as she displays the traditional Bengali greeting. She used this same greeting on her trip to India in the summer of 2013, where she encountered shopkeepers, young girls in churches, and women on the border of India and Bangladesh being trafficked or escaping from a life that was out of their control.
The JMU social work program exposes students to social justice issues and gives them the tools to provide social support, guidance and assistance. Most social work students apply these skills domestically through internships or practicums. For Neimanis, her passion for combatting human trafficking led her on a seven-week service trip to Kolkata, India, to see the issue firsthand and to help empower women affected by it. “I know I’m one person and can’t necessarily do too much, but I didn’t just want to sit by,” Neimanis said.
Trek7, a program through Reach Global, organized her trip. The program provided Neimanis’ group of five college-aged students with the tools they needed to embark on the mission, including emotional support, team building and conflict resolution.
Her daily activities in India varied from working in ministries for women who were freed from the trade, to experiencing the largest red light district in India – Sonagachi – located in Kolkata, where 11,000 women and girls are prostituted every night. Her group begged to see the district firsthand in order to gain a better understanding of the crisis. Of everything she witnessed, the visit to Sonagachi affected her the most. Reflecting on the trip, Neimanis said, “You walk down the street and there is no gap of women lining it. I really wanted to see human trafficking first hand, but actually being there affects you a lot more than you think.”
Neimanis said the social work faculty helped prepare her for this experience by always encouraging students to remain strong when facing stressful and emotionally trying situations in order to help the people involved.
During many evenings, her group tutored young women who were at risk of being kidnapped and forced into the sex trade. While the girls were at first apprehensive about becoming close to the group, they formed a strong bond over the the seven weeks. Neimanis said she grew particularly close to two sisters, Puja, 17, and Radha, 19, whose father was dead and whose mother was living in another village with two of their siblings. Neimanis said the girls were embarrassed that they lived “on streets lined back-to-back with houses made of cardboard and makeshift tarps.” By the end of the seven weeks the girls were excited to take Neimanis’ group to their houses and give us a tour of their neighborhoods. This immense poverty was one of the aspects of the trip that surprised her the most. While Neimanis said she visited third world countries in the past on other service trips, “it wasn’t even a tenth of the poverty you see in Kolkata.”
During the day, Neimanis and her group worked with agencies that employed women who escaped from brothels. These agencies helped women make and sell blankets and apparel out of recycled saris. It was in these shops that her group was able to interact with the women on a more personal level. ”You go in, take off your shoes, everyone does the nomoshkar greeting, and you’re invited to sit on the floor,” Neimanis said. “The shopkeepers offered us chai tea; we listened to music, talked and hung out.”
In the future, Neimanis hopes to work in an international setting with an organization that promotes prevention of human trafficking and offers aide to women exiting from the sex trade.
Social Work Department Head Lisa McGuire said, “Issues of cultural diversity and globalization are increasingly impacting all social workers and the clients they serve. Brenna’s work is on the cutting edge of practice and is clearly consistent with the mission of the social work profession in addressing social injustice, both locally and in the world.”
McGuire added that the social work department sponsors two international class-based trips to El Salvador and Dominica. Students like Neimanis sometimes choose independent service trips to locations like Israel, Kenya and Peru.
Neimanis plans to visit India in the future to follow up on her work and reunite with the friends she met along the way. She will continue her work with human trafficking in Laos and Bangkok during the summer of 2014. “I feel like I don’t have an excuse anymore to not do anything about it.”
Gifts to the Madison Forever Scholarship emergency student aid fund breathe life back into hope.
Did you know? 100 percent of this year’s telefund student employees made a gift to Madison Forever! 'I give because I love JMU and the Madison Experience. It’s about more than just the classes. It’s about the opportunity to get involved with students, professors and organizations that fuel your passions.’ — Jordan Williams (’16) (above)Madison Collection caller
Alecia Epp ('14) hopes some day to work as an executive at a top-ranked hospital. A health services administration major with a business minor, Epp knows the pain of losing hope. Her father died in March 2013 of cancer. Without the Madison Forever Scholarship, the Eldersburg, Md., native would have seen her dream of being the first person in her family to graduate from college vanish.
I was obviously so upset when my dad died, and then I was also upset because I didn't want to not come back for my last year at this place that is my second home, Epp says. "This scholarship is awesome to me. It has helped me stay here. I'm so incredibly grateful. It really has changed my life."
Jared Farnsworth ('16) deals in hope each waking moment. An interdisciplinary liberal studies major who is pursuing elementary education certification with a concentration in mathematics and science, Farnsworth dreams of a life spent "reaching my goal of showing people that someone else cares about them."
One of five siblings, Farnsworth, of Richmond, Va., found himself on the brink of dropping out of school after his father lost his job. "I feel so blessed to get the help from Madison Forever," he says. "I was definitely blown away when I got it."
Camisha Matthews ('14) knows about hope. She is a School of Media Arts and Design student with a concentration in graphic design. She plans to follow graduation by studying in Vienna next summer alongside William Tate, one of her favorite JMU professors. The Purcellville, Va., native is finishing her academic career at JMU and seizing the Vienna opportunity to learn in what she calls "one of the meccas of design" thanks to a Madison Forever Scholarship while her mother fights a second bout with cancer.
"I am so grateful for this scholarship," says Matthews, who put on an art show at a downtown Harrisonburg restaurant this fall after being hand-picked by the restaurant owner. "I have gotten a great education at JMU, and I would not have been able to finish here without the help," Matthews says. "I am super excited to get to the next chapter of my life, yet will be sad to leave JMU because it's been so good to me."
Madison Forever Scholarship gifts help rekindle hope, and help a Duke stay a Duke.
Liz Ramirez Kemp, a sociology and media arts and design double major at James Madison University, is not only a dynamic and engaged student at JMU but also a social agent for human trafficking in our nation.
In the spring of 2012, Ramirez’ sophomore year, she found a way to combine her passion for justice and equality with her collegiate studies at JMU. Ramirez, along with classmates Danielle McLean, Jasmine Jones, and Kristen Hotz, enrolled in the SMAD (School of Media Arts and Design) class Writing for New Media taught by instructor Paige Normand. During the course of the semester, mtvU, a digital cable television network owned by MTV with content geared toward university students, launched the “Against Our Will Campaign” to raise awareness and inspire action related to ending modern day slavery.
Ramirez and her classmates, with the encouragement of their professor, researched human trafficking and created an interactive video project that highlights the backstories of survivors of sex and labor trafficking. By making the project interactive, the SMAD students felt like the public would be able to connect better to the emotional context of human trafficking. mtvU agreed, selected the work as one of the finalists for their campaign, and in January of 2013 re-released the project as part of the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The interactive video, adopted by mtvU and called “The Backstory” is now a combination of interpretive dance and story-telling, narrated by rapper Talib Kweli, and features the troupe Ailey II. The students were subsequently awarded $10,000 and were considering donating some of the money to anti human trafficking organizations.
Ramirez, however, was not one to rest on her successes. Wanting to do more and continue her investigation into human trafficking, she designed an ethnographic study of an agency providing services to victims of human trafficking as a thoughtful and impressive senior honors thesis in sociology. Collecting her own data, she conducted over 300 hours of participant observation and did semi-structured interviews with a number of survivors and staff members, seeking to understand more of the survivors' experiences and identify best practices of advocacy and support. Ramirez’s work exemplifies her dedication to JMU’s motto “be the change."
Elizabeth Keene entered JMU in 2007 as a double major in music education and writing, rhetoric and technical communication (WRTC). After graduating in the spring of 2012, Keene is getting ready to graduate again, this time with a master’s degree in WRTC—and a bucket-list full of experiences to last a lifetime.
Keene’s path to JMU began in Southwest Virginia in the small town of Lebanon. In fifth grade, she started playing the trumpet, where she excelled. Two years into it, Keene was asked to play with the high school marching band—quite an honor for a seventh grader. Keene would embrace this opportunity and spend the remainder of her middle and high school years marching with the band.
When it came time to think about college, Keene knew she “wanted to do something with music.” She had never heard of JMU, but after talking with her parents, guidance counselor, and band director—and doing some research on her own, Keene decided “JMU was the place to go for music.”
Music was just one piece of the puzzle, however. Keene says her parents encouraged her to do something else as well. That “something else” would present itself when Keene visited an open house, and stumbled upon a table dedicated to Technical and Scientific Communication (TSC and now WRTC). Keene learned that TSC included writing, but also design and communications. After talking with a faculty advisor for TSC, Keene was convinced she could study music and technical and scientific communication, but that it would take her five years to graduate.
During those five years, Keene played the trumpet for the Marching Royal Dukes, where she had the opportunity to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 2008. Keene calls the experience “new and exciting.” “It was the first time I’d ever been to the parade, and seeing all the behind-the-scenes things—like the rehearsal at 2 a.m. and the balloons being staged—was very cool,” reveals Keene.
Little did Keene know that she would get the chance to march in the Macy’s Parade again as a graduate student.
Keene admits that she loves music education and could be content teaching somewhere, but that she would miss the writing, creative and design side of technical communication. This realization led her to pursue a graduate degree in WRTC immediately following her undergraduate graduation.
In addition to her graduate studies, Keene is teaching a freshman writing class for her assistantship and working in the Band Office, where she is involved with rehearsals and marketing efforts for the Marching Royal Dukes. Keene attended the Macy’s Parade with the band in 2013.
“It was very different attending the parade the second time,” shares Keene. “As a performer, you’re concentrating on the rehearsal aspect and the performance aspect—memorizing your music, learning the routine, and practicing marching in a parade block. As a staff member, we put in a lot of time beforehand planning for the parade—preparing bus lists, signs and promotional materials. It was in the students’ hands now to perform, and we could walk along and just enjoy the crowd.”
Keene acknowledges a huge JMU presence at both parades, and confesses that the people at JMU make it hard for her to leave. “JMU is home. The people are down-to-earth, and it makes me want to stay here.”
Camisha Matthews ('14) expects to make her mark in the graphic design world in a big way some day.
Thanks in part to Madison Forever Scholarship gifts, Matthews gets the opportunity to finish at JMU and also study in Vienna during the summer alongside William Tate, one of her favorite JMU professors.
All this is happening while her mother fights a second bout with cancer.
"I am so grateful for this scholarship," says Matthews, a Round Hill, Va. native who put on an art show at a downtown Harrisonburg restaurant this fall after being hand-picked by the restaurant owner. "I have gotten a great education at JMU, and I would not have been able to finish here without the help," Matthews says. "I am super excited to get to the next chapter of my life, yet will be sad to leave JMU because it's been so good to me."
After a degree and Vienna, Matthews has her eye on the Portland, Ore., graphic design scene. No stranger to work, she has held down various jobs each year since her freshman year while riding the roller coaster of uncertainty with her ailing mother and her younger sister.
Matthews, who says she chose JMU "because people here are so interested in you and in getting you excited for what they have to offer you to help you have a better life once you leave here," is beyond excited to etch the next chapter on the canvas of her future.
Calling Vienna "one of the design meccas of the world," Matthews adds, "I am so excited to see where that kind of exposure leads me."
Want to help more students stay at JMU?
Jared Farnsworth (’16) is going to help a lot of people.
Madison Forever Scholarship donors helped keep Farnsworth a Duke, and the Richmond, Va., native plans to make the most of that assistance.
“My main goal in life is to show people that someone else cares about them,” says Farnsworth, who may pursue a teaching career after earning his elementary education degree or perhaps parlay his current Wayland Hall resident assistant job into a college student affairs career.
Farnsworth, one of five siblings and on track to be the first in his family to graduate college, reached out for financial help after his parents were forced to declare bankruptcy.
When he learned of his Madison Forever award, “I was definitely blown completely away, and I continue to be so grateful to everyone who gave to this fund,” Farnsworth said. “I don’t know what I would have done if it weren’t for this money.”
Farnsworth is making his mark while here — Madison Project a cappella performer, RA, elementary education major with concentrations in mathematics and science — and through it all, he is learning that his future is in serving others.
Says Farnsworth, who brought with him a 4.2 cumulative high school GPA and continues to achieve and learn, “I was the shy guy in high school, and I definitely want to help people who are like that by making sure that they are included and hopefully giving them a comfortable place to explore their lives and futures.”
Want to help more students stay at JMU?
For Alecia Epp (’14), life at James Madison University was taking a predictably meandering path for most of the first three years.
Lots of friends. Amazing professors. The challenge of a health services administration degree that she thinks will one day lead her to a top hospital administration job.
All in all, pretty good times for the Eldersburg, Md., native.
Good times that came to a screeching halt when her father was diagnosed with and eventually died from cancer. As very nearly did her JMU academic career.
However, thanks to gifts from donors to Madison Forever Scholarships, Epp is managing to stay the course and finish her undergraduate degree.
For Epp, it’s about reaching out to those in need of help.
“I want to help people, and I feel as if health services administration is the perfect fit for me. At the end of the day, it’s really about helping people as opposed to doing a job just to make money.”
For Epp, the emergency aid scholarship help “really has changed my life.” And even with her wealth of friends from freshman year and also all the learning and support she has gleaned from the health services administration faculty, her family’s tragedy nearly forced Epp to leave JMU at the start of her senior year.
Enter a Madison Forever Scholarship to help save the day.
“This scholarship is awesome to me. It helped me stay here. I’m just so grateful for it. It really has changed my life,” she says. “If I hadn’t gotten this Madison Forever Scholarship, I probably would have finished my degree – but it would have been somewhere else and not JMU,” she says. “On top of all the other stuff, that would have been pretty awful. JMU is like my second home. I love it.
Want to help more students stay at JMU?
Dr. Barkley Rosser (Professor of Economics and Kirby L. Cramer, Jr., Professor of Business Administration) is now the Editor-in-Chief of a new quarterly publication: Review of Behavioral Economics (ROBE).
Originally initiated by entrepreneur and publisher, Zac Rolnik, ROBE strives to educate the public about the importance of behavioral economics. According to the editorial aims of ROBE, “[t]he journal is open to a variety of approaches and methods, both mainstream and non-orthodox, as well as theoretical, empirical and narrative.”
In explaining the journal’s importance, Dr. Rosser says, “We don’t want to have another giant crash that destroys the world’s economy like we did in 2008. To the extent that policy makers understand how people behave, in things like financial markets and so on, maybe we can make sure that we don’t do certain things that let things happen like that. Behavioral economics is very important. This journal has a niche. We are going to cover certain things that other journals don’t cover.”
Rosser, who stepped down from editing the highly successful Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (JEBO) in 2010, mentions that the first issue of ROBE is “a smash hit.” He adds that the inaugural issue has “very good papers by very well-known people.”
The inaugural issue of ROBE features a variety of behavioral economic topics, including: Robert Frank’s “expenditure cascades” which has been cited by many media outlets and recently Wikipedia; a heuristic for the protection against tail events written by Constantine Sandis and Nassim Taleb, author of the best-selling book, The Black Swan; “Generalized Impulse Balance: An Experimental Test for a Class of 3 x 3 Games,” written by Thorsten Chmura, Noble Prize winner Sebastian J. Georg, and Reinhard Selton; and an article discussing experimental economic behavior that was co-authored by Vernon Smith, who received the Noble Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 and presented at JMU in December 2013.
In their expenditure cascades paper, Frank and co-authors, Adam S. Levine and Oege Dijk, discuss what makes people happy. They believe that in the real world, happiness is determined by how we compare ourselves to others. Noting that if we compare ourselves to a person who spends a lot of money, it compels us to spend a lot of money. “The man is happiest whose wife’s sister’s husband makes less money than he does,” the authors claim. These three economists hope to shed light onto individual savings rates and income by pointing out the inadequacies of popular economic models of consumer behavior and developing and testing their own theory.The views of the featured economists in ROBE may not fit into the realm of conventional economics, but Dr. Rosser hopes that ROBE will follow in the footsteps of Herbert A. Simon, the father of behavioral economics. As an experienced founding editor, who says he was “known for publishing unusual, innovative papers while at JEBO,” Rosser believes that he has “the ability to attract good heterodox articles, and make judgments on their intellectual appeal” and that ROBE “could be the journal that’s both heterodox and respected.”
Throughout the year, the Center for Entrepreneurship invites various entrepreneurs to participate in the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.
Currently, the five Entrepreneurs-in-Residence are John Rothenberger, Jeff Pompeo, Mary Knebel Gillespie, Jon Craver, and Kevin Tucker. Each of the five entrepreneurs rotates visiting JMU throughout the semester. While acting as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence, the entrepreneur will spend time visiting classes, meeting with student groups, and holding office hours that are open to students. The Entrepreneur-in-Residence acts as a resource, offering professional advice and mentoring students.
Recently, Kevin Tucker, owner and president of SOLitude Lake Management Company, returned to his alma mater with the hope of sharing his experiences and advice with JMU students during his time as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He says, “I enjoy interacting, educating, and sharing knowledge with students about my experiences. I love JMU and I loved my experience here, and selfishly this gave me a reason to come to campus more and engage with students. “
Founded by Tucker in 1998, SOLitude Lake Management is a company dedicated to the preservation of natural resources and focused on the growing need for proper management of lakes and retention ponds. About his company, Tucker says, “It was a good niche. I wanted a business that was a good niche and I wanted a business that I could afford to hire high quality people, expect a lot from them, and pay them well.”
Though his first time acting as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Tucker has been actively engaged with the JMU community for the past two years. In addition to speaking in various classes, Kevin has also acted as a mentor for the Venture Creation course, offering guidance to students navigating the launch of a potential new business.
As a business owner, Tucker advises students, "When I am looking at hiring people, I am looking for quality of character and work ethic because training will take care of everything else. I can’t train people to be honest, and I can’t train people to be hardworking. You must have initiative—it’s all about initiative.”
Making the Most of the Undergrad Experience
A new year gives us all pause, as we plot and plan what we want the next 12 months to look like. One context to consider involves encouraging your student to make the most of his undergrad experience.
What might this look like? Here are some areas to consider together…
Campus Involvements. Has your student been so nose-to-the-grindstone academically that he failed to get involved outside the classroom? Co-curricular involvements, from campus clubs to student organizations, can actually enhance a student’s classroom performance. Plus, it’s a way to learn new things, meet people with diverse interests and build those leadership skills. What involvement opportunity can your student try in the new year?
Diverse People & Ideas. A college campus is a great place to engage with people different from us and to be exposed to new ideas. This might take the form of a study abroad program, taking a new type of class, attending educational and cultural events, and more. What is your student doing to meet a variety of people? What new ways of thought is he experiencing?
Career Options. The campus resources regarding careers are numerous, from internships to job shadowing programs to resume critiques – and so much more! What services can your student tap into this new year to kick-start his career search before senior year rolls around?
Community Connections. Reaching out beyond the campus walls is a good practice for students, too. This can take the form of things like community service, attending off-campus events or knowing what’s happening in town. What type of outreach can your student try?
Forging Relationships. The relationships formed in college are some of the strongest in your student’s life – from friends who live on his floor to classmates to mentors to faculty and staff. Has your student sought out a mentor to provide guidance? Is he taking the opportunity to meet others beyond his small circle?
Talk with your student about ways to make the most of his undergrad experience. Being thoughtful now can help ensure that he engages meaningfully in the term to come.
Seasonal Student Issues
- Feelings of happiness/restlessness from break
- Resolve to do better academically
- Renewed interest in classes
- New leadership skills starting to emerge
- Unwanted weight gain
- Cold weather blues
- Not many social activities scheduled
- Possible roommate changes
- Wedding plans for those who got engaged over break
- Anxiety and uncertainty for those who just arrived at new school
Training Our Brains to Increase Intelligence
You can increase your intelligence through brain training. That’s according to recent scientific discoveries, says Dan Hurely, author of <<Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power.>>
Certain games and training exercises can engage our working memory – that which allows us to manipulate information we’re holding in our brains – and increase fluid intelligence or our capacity to learn new things. In turn, this can increase basic cognitive skills that help us complete many different complex tasks, according to a study from Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl.
Using N-back Games
N-back challenges are one way to engage your working memory. These computerized games ask users to think on their feet. A task might involve something like being read four numbers and then being asked to repeat them backwards. Persistence with these games is what helps reap the benefits.
Popular sites like Lumosity provide such games, offering an opportunity to build a personalized training program that enhances memory and attention. Other sites and apps can also be found by searching “N-back games” online.
So, if you and your student are looking to harness untapped brainpower, brain training may be the way to go.
Sources: Spirit, Dec. 2013; The New York Times, 4/18/12
Dealing with Difficult People
Tips to Share with Your Student
There are all sorts of difficult people in the world. Some may push your buttons while others may push you to the brink of distraction. Yet, when it comes down to it, difficult people are, at the base, just people. So, learning to contend with them effectively is one of the smartest things your student can do.
Some points to share with your student as she keeps difficult people in perspective:
Most people just want to be listened to. Is she practicing reflective listening when talking with individuals so that they know she is hearing and absorbing what they have to say?
People are socialized in different ways. When someone does something that she considers rude, it’s best if she considers the fact that the person may not have been socialized in the same way that she was. Our points of reference are likely different as a result of different upbringings.
We all need attention. And some people may go about garnering that attention by being difficult. Perhaps your student can turn the tides by recognizing them for positive attributes so they may not feel the need to solicit negative attention.
Too much attention can backfire. When difficult people see that they’re getting a rise out of your student, this can reinforce their negative behaviors. Encourage her to keep her reactions in check.
We all need an outlet. Dealing with difficult folks can take its toll. That’s why it’s important for your student to have a confidential sounding board at her disposal. An objective party can often help her wade through hurt feelings, anger and frustration to come up with more effective ways to manage those difficult ones.
“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” -Sir Winston Churchill
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” -Albert Einstein
Comparing “Key Happenings” with Your Student
As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches this January 20, it can be a good time to talk with your student about “key happenings” in one another’s lives.
For instance, you may suspect that 9/11 or the Newtown shootings had the most profound impact on your student so far in her life. By talking, you may find that other incidents have impacted her worldview, her values and her ambitions, too.
And when you share your “key happenings,” you’re letting your student see a part of your history and heart, too.
Extend this conversation to include grandparents and other elderly family members or friends as well. An intergenerational discussion about the events that shaped our lives can be invaluable as you and your student learn more about what makes each other tick.
MLK, In His Own Words
For the full text, video and/or audio of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speeches to share with your student, you can log on to www.americanrhetoric.com.
You’ll find links to speeches such as:
- “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”
- “I Have a Dream”
- “A Time to Break Silence” (declaration against Vietnam War)
- Robert F. Kennedy’s remarks on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
You can also go to You Tube for links to his speeches, a video that goes with U2’s tribute song “Pride” and more.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helps emphasize the importance of the MLK Day of Service, held each January in his honor. Find out more at http://mlkday.gov/.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Does your student know what to do in case of fire? Whether he lives on or off campus, this lifetime skill is an important one to master. You can help by sharing this simple acronym with him…
- Pull the pin – this allows you to discharge the extinguisher
- Aim at the base of the fire – you want to hit the fuel, not the flames
- Squeeze the top handle or lever – this depresses a button to release the pressurized extinguisher agent
- Sweep from side to side – do this until the fire is out, starting from a safe distance away and then moving forward – keep an eye on the area once the fire is out to make sure it doesn’t re-ignite
Source: Oklahoma State University EHS, http://ehs.okstate.edu/modules/exting/howto.htm
Marketing Themselves: What Students Can Do
In today’s tight job market, you can assure your student that the skills and experience he has gained are in high demand. However, he can’t just let people guess what he has to offer…he needs to share it.
Remind your student that his name is a brand, telling people what they’re going to get when they hire him. Is he trustworthy? Responsible? A hard worker? Smart? Innovative? Someone with a good attitude? Encourage your student to explore these questions for himself.
Students also need to understand that branding is about emphasizing what makes them stand out. What would your student say about himself? What would others say? Suggest that your student ask a few trusted friends and mentors this question. Then invite him to think about how his special features benefit others and how he can communicate those benefits.
As your student “brands” himself for the job search, he needs to think about a few things:
- How do I add value to the things I’m involved with?
- What are some characteristics that I’m proud of?
- What are my interests and passions?
- How do I make myself visible to others?
- What makes me stand out?
You can also educate your student about the importance of translating transferable skills. Part of branding himself effectively is focusing on transferable skills rather than just what he knows or has learned.
What is a transferable skill? It is a core skill that most employers value and can be taken with a student and applied to a new professional role.
Encourage your student to consider how he has demonstrated the following:
- Leadership – campus positions, job roles, committees and group projects
- Trainability – able to take direction and open to learning
- Reliability – punctual, meets deadlines, time management
- Management – administration, supervision, training
- Trustworthiness – handling confidential information
- Teamwork – collaboration, common vision, mutual goals
- Diversity – travels, immersion into diverse cultures, a second language
And ask him how he can translate these skill sets in a way that makes sense in the jobs for which he applies.
In today’s job market, employers are looking not just at what responsibilities an applicant had, but what they accomplished! Employers are more results-oriented than ever before. Hands-on experiences, with supportive supervisors and mentors, can provide students with the opportunity to “sell” the results they achieved.
Ultimately, your student needs to let potential employers know who he is, what he stands for and what makes him a potential asset to their organization in order to even be considered for hire.
Examples You Can Offer…
|Student Experience||Transferable Skills|
|Served as a tutor||Teaching, working with diverse people|
|Planned events with a group||Teamwork, event planning, multi-tasking|
|Designed theater sets||Building, planning, facilitating|
|Coordinated an intramurals team||Coaching, organizing, teamwork, motivation|
|Presented research in class||Public speaking, teaching|
|Created organization’s social network||Using new media, technological skills|
|Organizational fundraising||Sales, organization, outreach, cooperation|
|Promoted programs on campus||Marketing, PR, writing|
|Managed peer staff||Supervising, delegating, evaluating|
20 Ways to Embrace Diversity
The campus environment is filled with opportunities for your student to embrace diversity, learning about herself – and others – in the process.
- Talk with others about their backgrounds.
- Compare the origins of your names to learn the stories involved.
- Inform people if something they say is offensive and why.
- Create bulletin boards that depict people of all different ages, sexual orientations, races, religions, genders and more.
- Volunteer to help with an event devoted to support a diverse group.
- Learn a cultural dance.
- Watch a controversial or educational movie and discuss it afterwards.
- Go to a museum to see a cultural exhibit.
- Cook a cultural dish and revel in the different smells and tastes.
- Read something by a Jewish, Spanish, LGBTQ or Native American author that is outside of your “typical” reads.
- Celebrate various holidays, from Purim to the Vernal Equinox to Easter.
- Work on a cultural festival that features dancing, food, facts, ceremonies and more from various countries and cultures.
- Proudly learn more about your own cultural heritage.
- Make plans to attend a local march, rally or protest in support of another group’s rights.
- Put together an educational or social program that highlights diversity.
- Advocate for the increased accessibility of campus spaces.
- Attend a concert or theater presentation that is outside your comfort zone.
- Ask an international student to share some of his customs, foods and photos with you.
- Be aware of one another’s needs.
- Be open to learning, experiencing and embracing new people and ways of doing things!
- Each other
- Regardless of
- Skin color
- Talents or
The Madison Collaborative assessment team and graduate students involved in assessment presented a symposium titled "Assessing Ethical Reasoning in Higher Education: An Example" at the annual conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association (NERA) in Rocky Hill, CT, October 22-25, 2013.
Dr. Keston Fulcher, Associate Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies and assessment liaison for the Madison Collaborative (MC) provided an overview of the inception of the MC, its student learning outcomes, the eight-key-question (8KQ) framework, currently implemented and planned interventions, as well as the variety of instruments developed over the past year and a half to assess ethical reasoning at JMU.
Assessment and measurement doctoral student Bo Bashkov presented a study assessing the dimensionality of one of the MC’s pilot instruments, the multiple-choice Test of Ethical Reasoning, demonstrating the use of exploratory factor analysis with dichotomously scored data. Bo has been involved with the MC as a task-force member of the Quality Enhancement Plan committee for a year and continues to serve as a data analyst and assessment consultant for the MC this year.
Kristen Smith, a quantitative psychology graduate student, presented the continuous process of instrument development and revision of the Test of Ethical Reasoning pilot forms to create the current multiple-choice Ethical Reasoning Identification Test. Kristen has been involved in assessment research projects with the MC for about a year.
Finally, Oksana Naumenko, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, presented an overview of generalizability theory applied in the context of the MC’s performance assessment prompt and rubric designed to measure the application of ethical reasoning and the 8KQs in students own lives. Oksana was involved in the MC’s performance assessment activities last summer, after finishing her master’s in quantitative psychology at JMU. The symposium was well-received, and the audience engaged in a thoughtful discussion of the importance of implementing and assessing a project like the MC to enhance students’ life and career skills not only at JMU but across the nation.
UREC is excited to introduce a new online registration website, URECregister.jmu.edu which will be available for the JMU community to utilize starting at the beginning of the Spring 2014 semester to register online for all programs (this includes Group Fitness classes and Intramural Sports) and most services.
Program registration will still be available at UREC as it has been in the past. To pay for fee programs, the new online registration system will now accept credit cards and the UREC program registration desk (in-person) will accept FLEX.
Participants will need to be aware of a few policy changes due to the new system:
- Use your JMU e-ID and password to login. This same login will grant you access to IMleagues.com.
- Participants will not be able to cancel registrations online. To cancel a registration, you must call or visit the UREC Program Registration Desk at 540-568-8734 by the cancelation deadline (one hour in advance for Group Fitness classes and for most non-fee educational programs). If you do not cancel and do not show up on time for a class, you are considered a "no-show participant." If you no-show three times in one semester, you will lose your online registration privileges for the remainder of that semester.
- Group Fitness classes will open for registration 6:30am the day before the class (extending the former 24 hour registration period).
- Refunds for courses with fees must be approved by the appropriate UREC professional staff member implementing the program by the refund deadline listed with the course. Please allow one week for approved refunds to reimburse your credit card. A convenience fee for credit payment will not be refunded.
Another feature of this new system allows participants to check out equipment and keep your JAC with you during your workout. Remember to return equipment before leaving the building or you may incur a fee.
Participants will also be able to view Racquetball Court availability prior to calling the UREC Equipment Center to make a reservation.
If you need assistance, our member services staff is available to help you with any questions you may have. Please call 540-568-8734 or visit the UREC Welcome Center for help with online registration.
Dear JMU colleagues,
Participants in the Leadership for Supervisors workshop shared a photo opportunity with President Alger on Nov. 20, 2013.
As this semester draws to a close, I want to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season. As we approach the end of our first full calendar year together, I want to thank all of you for your extraordinary efforts to make JMU the best possible place to learn, work, and live. In the face of snow and ice during a busy exam week, we have seen once again how we can pull together to respond quickly and positively to daunting challenges. This spirit of teamwork is one of the things that makes JMU such a great place to work.
I also want to share with you some other brief updates and reminders:
SACS Reaffirmation: At its annual meeting in Atlanta this week, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) officially reaffirmed JMU’s accreditation as the final step of its decennial review. The reaffirmation serves as a strong vote of confidence and reflects the hard work of many people across campus. I want to thank the entire team who made this successful outcome possible. Congratulations to everyone who participated!
December Commencement: This Saturday, December 14, more than 700 students will graduate in our December commencement at the Convocation Center. JMU’s own G.J. Hart, CEO of California Pizza Kitchen as well as an active member of the JMU College of Business Executive Advisory Council and the College of Business Research and Development Inc. Board, will be the special guest speaker.
University Schedule: The University will be closed for the winter break from Monday, December 23 through Friday, January 3.
Marching Royal Dukes: As you all know, the Marching Royal Dukes did a superb job representing the university when they led off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. We have heard from alumni and supporters all around the country who were thrilled to see JMU featured in such a prominent national spotlight. Many students and parents told us that it was an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience for them. Subsequently, the Marching Royal Dukes were invited to participate in the gubernatorial inauguration parade in Richmond on January 11.
Scholarly Accomplishments: Our faculty and students continue to receive recognition for their scholarly work and achievements. For a list of recent faculty grants, honors, presentations, publications and service, please see the following link: http://www.jmu.edu/news/madisonscholar/2013-scholarly-news-november.shtml
Happy holidays to all, and with all good wishes for the New Year,
It has been an exciting and busy fall at JMU. At this midpoint in the semester, I want to share an update regarding some of our programs, initiatives and accomplishments.
President Alger speaks to the Board of Visitors at the Oct. 4, 2013, meeting.
Board of Visitors and Strategic Planning
The Board of Visitors met on October 4. The Board approved the University’s Six-Year Plan as required by the state, which includes projections regarding finances, facilities, and enrollment. The Board also discussed the University’s position within the national higher education landscape, and received the draft strategic planning documents from the Madison Future Commission process along with the FBS Athletics Feasibility Study. As reported previously, those documents are all available for public review and comment at www.jmu.edu/madisonfuture/. Our strategic planning process reflects our commitments to transparency and inclusion, and indeed we have heard from thousands of constituents over the course of the past year as we prepare for our future together. While we know that there will be many different voices and perspectives in a university community of our size and complexity, we are confident that this thorough process will help us to produce a bold and thoughtful plan. The strategic plan will be submitted to the Board of Visitors for approval at its January meeting, and all units across the University will be asked to develop objectives that are consistent with the overall University plan.
Madison Vision Series
The Madison Vision lecture series continued with a presentation this week from Dr. Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Carol is one of the nation’s leading spokespersons on the importance and relevance of liberal arts and sciences education, and is also a champion of engaged learning through high-impact educational practices. Our next speaker in this series will be Cynthia Cooper, WorldCom whistleblower, who on November 13 will discuss her experiences and share thoughts on ethical reasoning in the workplace. You can keep up to date with the Madison Vision Series at www.jmu.edu/president/mvs.
Events on and off Campus
JMU continues to host many successful events that bring people to our campus, and to engage with the world off campus around the region, state, nation and world. This semester, for example, I have had the privilege of speaking to scholarly conferences at JMU on Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (SUMS) and Logic Across the Disciplines, as well as a regional Bike-Walk Summit aimed at making the campus and area more bike and pedestrian friendly. I want to acknowledge all of our faculty, staff and students who contribute to making these events successful and which raise the profile of our institution. This semester I’m also addressing groups off campus such as the Shenandoah Valley Human Resource Managers, Association of Graduate Schools, and International Council of Fine Arts Deans to name just a few. We also hosted students at JMU from the University of the Free State in South Africa, who participated in an intercultural exchange on diversity and leadership.
Family Weekend was a huge success this year with record numbers participating. It was the biggest revenue-producing event ever for the bookstore and dining services. Activities included "Back to School" class visits for parents on Friday, the Phil Vassar concert, the General Education Student Conference, many academic receptions, a 5K race and UREC programs, just to name a few. The football game was sold out with 25,201 in attendance. The fall meeting of the Parents Council (PC) welcomed 43 new first-year members. Thanks to all who participated and provided hospitality for our JMU families.
Homecoming Weekend is quickly approaching. We look forward to welcoming alumni back to campus November 1-3. Visit the website for news on homecoming activities http://www.jmu.edu/homecoming.
The Marching Royal Dukes will be representing JMU on national television as they kick off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This is a significant honor and the third appearance for the band in the parade. Many of us will join the band in person to cheer them on, and we know many others will want to catch them on TV.
The winter commencement will be held on Saturday, December 14 at the Convocation Center, and we are pleased to announce that JMU’s own GJ Hart (CEO of California Pizza Kitchen) will be the featured speaker.
We continue to make good progress on a variety of facilities projects that will enrich our educational environment. The renovation and expansion of Duke Hall (at the corner of Grace and Main Streets) is expected to be completed in December of this year, and we are now planning departmental moves. This building for the visual and fine arts will further strengthen and highlight the presence of the arts at JMU. The Student Success Center and Health Center, located on the North Campus (the old hospital site), are on track for phased completion in 2014. Site work has begun for an apartment-style residential facility on Grace Street (west of Main Street) that will house 507 students, with an anticipated completion date of summer 2015.
Additional capital projects that are in the design stages include the development of a new Health & Human Services Building, the renovation of Madison Hall (part of the old hospital complex), the expansion of UREC, repair of the Newman Lake Dam, and the construction of new steam lines. All of this construction signals a campus that is vibrant and seeking to meet the evolving needs of our institution in the 21st Century.
Combined Virginia Campaign
Although it is hard to believe, the holiday season is quickly approaching—which for many is a time of giving back. The Combined Virginia Campaign (CVC) is upon us, and soon you will receive a large red envelope outlining the many ways that you can give back to the community. It also includes information about a state program, Holiday Hoops, which will support food banks across the Commonwealth—as well as provide some friendly competition between universities. Please read through your CVC packet carefully, and consider giving to help those in need.
As autumn enfolds the Shenandoah Valley and our campus in its beauty, I encourage each of you to take the time to reflect on the good work we accomplish together. Your efforts make a difference in the lives of our students, and I am grateful to all of you for sharing your time and talents in this noble enterprise. It is a privilege to work with all of you.
Senior Eric Croucher is getting ready to graduate but that doesn’t mean he has free time as his last semester has been filled with classes and 12-hour clinicals three times a week; the hours and the demand are constant. But according to him, “When the work seems too much, just remember you are learning what is necessary to take care of someone’s brother, daughter, aunt, or grandfather. The sacrifice now is worth it in the end.”
On November 9th, at the 3rdannual March of Dimes gala in Richmond, Croucher received the Virginia Student Nurse of the Year award. Even though there were moments he struggled in the nursing program, the faculty still recognized his hard work and determination. “It was a huge honor first to be nominated – that was amazing in itself…but I was kind of shocked I won,” said Croucher.
JMU’s nursing program has taught him all of the practical skills required of a Registered Nurse as well as how to deliver patient-centered care and ethical decision making skills needed in the healthcare setting.
“With nursing, it keeps you busy but I try to get involved,” said Croucher.
He is the current president of the Virginia Nursing Students’ Association, which provides networking and education benefits before entering into the profession.
Croucher also initiated JMU’s chapter of Be The Match, an organization that promotes bone marrow registration and raises funds for the foundation. When his best friend from home was diagnosed with leukemia, he decided to help him the best way he could – encouraging people to join the bone marrow registry. A bone marrow transplant is the best treatment option for blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia.
Back in his Maryland hometown, Croucher helped with a big fundraiser that resulted in more than 500 people swabbed and entered into the registry. Since the prime age for new registers is between 18 and 22, Croucher thought “What better place than to do it on a college campus?”
This semester JMU’s Be The Match has already got 126 new individuals added to the system and raised $2,000.
He is also a member of the Order of Omega, a Greek honors society, and the former president of the social fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Croucher will be graduating in December of 2013. He is still waiting to hear back from three potential hospitals: Vanderbilt, University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins.
Growing up, new dance faculty member Ryan Corriston frequently “jumping over milk cartons and sliding to the ground” in the Kaleidoscope Dance Company at the Creative Dance Center (CDC) in Seattle, Washington. Corriston is bringing that same energy and enthusiasm for dance into the classroom at JMU.
It all started for Corriston when he was eight years old. Anne Gilbert, who was a friend’s mother and the director of the CDC, came into his first grade class to teach movement. That exposure led Corriston to take a class at the Center called “Just Boys,” where he learned to choreograph dances and move “in a fun, creative and exploratory way.”
Corriston continued weekly dance classes at the CDC during his elementary and middle school years, but says he “never really focused on dance until college.” “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I just wanted to pick a good liberal arts school and not pay a gazillion dollars to go out-of-state.” Then he took a class during the winter quarter of his sophomore year, and “really enjoyed it.” After one more dance class during his spring semester at the University of Washington, Corriston was sold. He declared a major in dance the following year.
After graduating from UW in 1998, Corriston spent six months traveling to Nepal and India before making the decision to move to New York to pursue a career in dance. According to Corriston, finding “good work in New York was difficult” at age 22, and he took odd jobs just to make ends meet.
But Corriston found his way. During his time in New York, he worked with a number of choreographers, including internationally acclaimed artist, Doug Varone. Corriston was a member of Doug Varone and Dancers from 2005-2011, where he observed the “raw, unabashed physicality, yet beautifully controlled and musical” nature of Varone’s work. “One of the things I also really liked about his [Varone’s] work is that I felt like I got to be myself when I performed it. I am drawn to seeing people on stage, interacting and being honest and authentic with each other.”
Corriston says his style was most influenced by Varone. “I love to get dancers moving in a real physical way. I also love music and am driven by the score.” In addition, Corriston says he strives to create an environment that fosters genuine creativity. “I try to work with who’s in front of me and use their movement ideas and inspiration.”
JMU dance students and members of the Virginia Repertory Dance Company are getting the opportunity to share their ideas and inspiration with the new dance professor. Corriston, who earned his M.F.A. in Dance from his alma mater in 2013, is choreographing a piece called “The Underpinnings” for Dancescapes, Virginia Repertory’s 3oth Anniversary Celebration Concert (Thursday-Sunday, December 5-8 at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts).
Corriston will step in as artistic director for the Company next semester while current artistic director, Shane O’Hara, is on sabbatical. “I’m really excited,” claims Corriston. “One of the reasons I wanted to work at a university was to work with students on dances and to help them continue work on pieces that have already been developed.”
Next semester promises to be a busy one for Corriston and the Company. Trips to New York, Richmond and the ACDFA (American College Dance Festival Association) at George Mason are already on the calendar. But Corriston seems to be enjoying the ride. “I’m having a great time here. I feel like students are getting to become artists and well-rounded people.”
We provide the lunch & afternoon coffee, you provide the energy to collaborate, write or reflect. Come enjoy fellowship with colleagues in the productive and beautiful environment on the Fifth Floor of the Rose Library. Select consultation services available.
Register - Nov 22: Fourth Fridays Fifth Floor for Faculty 12-4pm
The Center for Faculty Innovation is holding its second annual Art & Photography Contest. This year's theme is Life's Milestone Moments. The purpose of the contest is to showcase milestone moments in our professional lives and careers as educators. This contest also provides faculty with an opportunity to showcase their photography. The photographs of the top 10 winners wiil be displayed in the CFI suite (5th Floor of Rose Library) during the remainder of the 2013-2014 academic year.
We welcome submissions from photographers of every skill level. If you are interested in entering any of your photographs, please download the Rules and Entry form and submit your work to the Center For Faculty Innovation by Friday, November 15 at 5 PM.
January Symposium is a place for scholarship.Amid the busy professional duties of teaching and service work, carving out time for mindful scholarly pursuits is vital to professional growth and renewal. January Symposium is a place and time for faculty to learn and grow as scholars. Hone skills, increase productivity, network with colleagues, and engage in scholarly pursuits this year at January Symposium. Consider the following beautiful questions as part of your scholarly journey:
- How do I incorporate a committment to scholarship into a schedule that demands so much of me?
- How does lifelong learning through inquiry nurture you as a scholar?
- How can contributing to scholarly dialogue enrich your sense of community and connection?
- What skills will better help you make a difference in your work?
In 2011, JMU faculty members Amanda Cleveland, Liliokanio Peaslee, and Gary Kirk were recipients of a $478,000 Best Practices in Mentoring research grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The grant funded a two-year study to develop enhanced mentor programming and conduct experimental evaluation research. The study investigated the impact of enhanced mentor training and peer advising on the quality of mentor-mentee relationships and mentee life outcomes in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The grant funded research opportunities for JMU graduate students and helped lead to an expansion of the number of JMU undergrads volunteering as mentors.
Campus-community partnerships at JMU can have impacts beyond the local area. In 2012, this research study was cited by OJJDP as a best practices site in program development and evaluation research. Programming developed by JMU researchers has gained nation-wide attention and is currently hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). BBBSA has also noted the team’s development of evaluation instruments for use with young children, a group currently understudied in national mentoring programs. Researchers expect that forthcoming findings will be used to inform and improve mentor training practices broadly.
Subsequently, in late September 2013, OJJDP announced a new research award to Dr. Peaslee and Dr. Cleveland for $299,000 in funding to expand the scope and timeframe of their original research project. The new project will fund a four-year research study aimed at identifying the factors that affect match quality beyond enhanced training and peer support. In addition, this new research project will employ a long-term, quasi-experimental research design tracking outcomes of mentees after their mentoring relationship ends. “We know that the benefits of mentoring often increase overtime,” says Dr. Peaslee, “This project affords us the opportunity to assess the possibility of more meaningful impacts of programs like BBBS on at-risk youth as they enter adulthood.”
Both projects are conducted in conjunction with an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in Harrisonburg-Rockingham County, Virginia (BBBSHR). Led by Executive Director Susan Totty, BBBSHR is an established one-on-one mentoring program serving over 600 children annually. BBBSHR has been nationally recognized for excellence in practice and service. “Community-based research requires intense coordination and widespread participation”, notes Dr. Cleveland. “Nearly 90% of the volunteers serving children in need in this community are students at JMU and surrounding colleges. Community engagement among students on our campus has been vital to the success of our research and BBBSHR’s goal to serve at-risk youth.”
Amanda Cleveland and Lili Peaslee are both Assistant Professors of Public Policy and Administration in the Political Science Department. Dr. Cleveland is in her fourth year at JMU; she specializes in program evaluation. Dr. Peaslee is in her sixth year; she specializes in youth development and policy studies. Both are currently involved in several other community-based research and evaluation projects that permit students in their courses to apply their knowledge to serve local needs.
Dr. Peaselee (left) and Dr. Cleveland (right)
Back in 2005, Centennial Scholar Francesca Leigh-Davis’s aspirations included completing a degree in psychology and pursuing a career in substance abuse counseling. As a recipient of Madison’s prestigious full-ride Centennial Scholarship, the Tidewater area native was known for her superior academic performance, her school spirit, and for her love of the city of Harrisonburg. What many did not know, however, was her constant struggle with family issues back home. Now, after a six-year hiatus from JMU, her dream of graduating from college is finally becoming a reality.
“The problems have always existed,” said Leigh-Davis, recalling the reasons that she was forced to leave the school and life she loved. This included a range of personal family issues, as well as a traumatic event that occurred during her freshman year. “Our house burned down back home, we lost everything.”
To help her grandparents, who raised her, Leigh-Davis made constant trips back home. Taking time away from her academics and social life back in Harrisonburg, she cites this incident as the beginning of an unexpected downward spiral.
From then on, Leigh-Davis fought a constant battle to stay in school, despite several unforeseen obstacles. During her junior year, she became pregnant and learned her grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given three months to live. “Socially and academically, I felt completely overwhelmed,” she said, “my grades had fallen, and I decided that before I fell too far behind, I should leave [school].”
Though she made trips to Smithfield, VA three times a week to help her ailing grandfather with their family real estate business, Leigh-Davis decided to stay in Harrisonburg with her child. “I had fallen in love with the area, and had every intention of returning back to JMU.”
Life threw another curveball the following August. “Right before I was going to start classes again, my grandfather passed away,” Leigh-Davis said. “I knew it was up to me to keep our family’s business going, so I packed up myself and my baby and went home.”
At this point, her goal of coming back to complete her degree was a fading dream. “…it became painfully clear that I would not be returning to JMU in the near future,” Leigh-Davis said. That was, until her grandmother received a letter from JMU’s Outreach & Engagement office in May of 2013.
“I was sitting at a different university filling out an application,” said Leigh-Davis. “My grandmother called and said the President of JMU was inviting me to ‘Return to Madison’ to complete my education. I called the number, and they told me it was true. I couldn’t believe it.”
Leigh-Davis is just one of 47 students that reenrolled at Madison this fall as part of a statewide push to encourage adults to complete their bachelor’s degree at four-year Virginia institutions. Since its inception in 1977, JMU’s Adult Degree Program (ADP) has worked to educate and enlighten students beyond the traditional college age. To further this initiative, JMU Outreach & Engagement launched a new campaign in August of 2012 known as “Return to Madison.” Funded by a $50,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, this program aimed to identify students who were previously enrolled at JMU between 1995 and 2008 and earned at least 30 college credits. These individuals, residing in many areas of Virginia, were then invited to come back to Madison to finish their degree through the Adult Degree Program.
Initially, the registrar’s office identified about 6,200 candidates that were eligible for the program. After eliminating individuals who had already completed their degrees at other institutions, more than 1,100 candidates remained. Once that number was determined, Outreach & Engagement began their marketing strategy.
“More than 100 students have responded so far,” said Pamela Hamilton, Director of the Adult Degree Program for Outreach & Engagement. “We used the grant money to pay for postage to send out customized letters to each student as well as a card from President Alger.” These letters identified various aspects of students’ previous educational experience, including former majors and the number of classes left in order to complete a degree.
ADP was also able to use the grant money to purchase software that pulled relevant employment information from online job postings. “We were able to actually include employment information for their area,” said Hamilton. “This included skills, openings, and degrees necessary, so we could pull all of that information together and help students decide on an appropriate area of study.”
ADP students are provided one-on-one guidance to develop a curriculum that will meet their academic goals. For some, this means only a few classes stand in their way of receiving a bachelor’s degree. Opportunities to complete these course requirements are available both on campus and through online programs designed by James Madison faculty specifically for the Adult Degree Program.
“This initiative was far more successful than we had anticipated,” said Hamilton. “A total of 47 students have returned to complete their degree, and we didn’t expect that any of the students would graduate in the one-year time period of the grant. However, six students actually have, and three more will graduate in December 2013.”
Though the grant ended, Outreach & Engagement will continue to reach out to students inviting them to complete their degree through the Adult Degree Program.
For her first semester, Leigh-Davis is enrolled in a series of communication courses, with the intention of also completing a business management track next fall. As for the program, she could not express the magnitude of her appreciation. “When I had to write a statement for my application back, I was in tears. Not because what happened was hurtful, but because, regardless of what happened, I’m back at JMU. I can’t even explain how big that is for me. A college degree was never out of the question. To be able to come back to JMU and complete my education, it’s like the best Christmas ever.”
Hurricane in the forecast? You might want to top off your gas tank – or buy some shares of Exxon stock. According to recent research published by Drs. Jason and Kristin Fink, the price of gas will rise if a hurricane is forecast, as will the stock prices of major refineries.
The Finks have recently published three research papers examining the impact of hurricanes on the price of energy, and the stock price of oil companies. Their interest in hurricanes started about ten years ago when they purchased a home in the Florida Keys. “Because it’s so prone to hurricanes, we just began to watch hurricanes every year. And being statisticians, we began really watching hurricanes and being familiar with how the forecasting works. We even came to know the names of the forecasters,” says Kristin. She adds they began to wonder what happens to energy prices when hurricanes are forecast.
Jason notes that there had been no research to determine if the markets really believe the forecasts of the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC provides good forecasts for major metropolitan areas. He says, “We wanted to see if the financial markets believed in these forecasts, and to what extent.”
The first paper examined futures contracts, called “crack spread” contracts. The name comes from the fact that the carbon chain is cracked when oil is refined. The crack spread is really the difference between heating oil and gasoline, minus the cost of crude oil. Jason explains, “It’s the spread between the product and the input. When the hurricanes roll through, the spread is what would be affected.”
He adds, “Asset prices don’t react when the bad event happens; they react when people realize the bad event is going to happen.” The Finks gathered the forecasts from the NHC back to the early 90s, which were provided every six hours. They wanted to determine when in advance of the storm the asset prices reacted. “That let us know which hurricane forecast they believed,” says Jason. They found the assets believed in the 24-hour forecast, jumping by about 13 percent.
In the second paper, the Finks looked at stock prices of companies that were producing the gas. Jason says, “We again looked at when they reacted. We broke it up into the 1990s and the 2000s. In the 1990s, people believed the forecast at the 24-hour horizon; in the 2000s, they were reacting at the 48-hour horizon. This was directly tied to the accuracy of the NHC forecasts, which were as accurate for the 48-hour horizon in the 2000s as they had been for the 24-hour horizon in the 1990s.”Allison Russell, a quantitative finance alumnus, helped research and write the first paper.
The Finks discovered an unexpected trend during their research. “For the most part, stock prices went up during hurricanes, not down,” says Jason, adding, “It was puzzling at first. But when we looked closer at it, we realized it was only the largest refineries whose prices were going up. The small ones weren’t really affected.” They concluded that the large refineries have refining capacity in other locations; they are spread out. The large refining firms are able to capitalize on the increase in gasoline prices. They are able to profit from the refined energy spikes that occur during the hurricanes.Kristin adds, “Because the NHC got better in its forecasting ability, markets picked up on that and started believing farther out and reacting to it earlier.”
Their third paper focused on the impact of long-range forecasts for the hurricane season, which come out in December, June, and August. The Finks researched the newspaper articles that ran the seasonal forecasts so they could pinpoint exact dates of the predictions.
They tested the reaction of the crack spread futures to these seasonal forecasts. Jason says, “Although the odds of getting hit by a hurricane are astronomically low, we found that with the June and August forecasts there actually was a jump in the crack spread futures; the more active the season, the greater the jump. The spreads don’t react at all to the December forecasts.”
This research provides valuable information for investors. Jason notes, “Purely from a timing standpoint, if you’re worried about a hurricane moving through somewhere, if you want to get out before the risk is likely to manifest itself, you’d want to get out prior to the forecast horizon where you know the market reacts.” He adds, “It appears that energy firms are able to increase their refining capacity at other locations. Knowing that they actually benefit financially from these hurricanes lessens their need for financial assistance from the government.”
The Finks’ research reinforces the old adage that timing is everything!
The International Student and Scholar Services team in the Office of International Programs provides support for nearly 500 international students studying at JMU on non-immigrant or temporary visas. Here’s a glimpse of what the ISSS staff offers:
Welcome to LIFE – Leaders in International Friendship Exchange
The Leaders in International Friendship Exchange (LIFE) program was launched in January of 2013 with 28 JMU international students and 18 local families initially participating. The LIFE program matches such students with local community members who are interested in connecting with them. This completely volunteer program facilitates friendship and cultural exchange. International students choose to participate in LIFE in order to learn more about American culture through interaction with an American family, improve conversational English skills and understand and feel more relaxed in the local community. LIFE community volunteers join the program in order to learn about diverse cultures, provide a comfortable environment to students far away from home and promote global understanding in the Harrisonburg area.
Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner – Bringing Communities Together
The ISSS celebrated Thanksgiving at a potluck dinner with more than 100 international students and families who joined the LIFE program.
The View from Over There
What happens to students who live abroad and who want to get a feel for what the campus looks and feels like? How can admitted international students value the many great resources that JMU has to offer, including its picturesque campus? The LINKers (students from the Leader for International Networking & Knowledge program) have finally resolved this situation by creating a virtual campus tour through the eyes of international students.
Conversation Partners – The Big Benefits of Small Talk
The Conversation Partner Program, which began in the fall of 2012 after a successful pilot program the previous spring, provides a unique opportunity for the mutual exchange of culture and, in some cases, language. Domestic and international students are matched for a semester and are expected to meet for at least one hour each week. A list of weekly topics guides their conversations, and monthly activities (pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving dinner, coffee hour, etc.) are offered for the larger group. Of the 165 applications we received for the fall and 128 for the spring, a large number were from students in JMU’s International Study Center. This program gave them exceptional insight into the world of U.S. college students, an opportunity to practice their English skills, and a chance to learn about U.S. culture. Many of the domestic students enjoyed sharing their background, learning about another tradition, and using a language (Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) other than English. Every Conversation Partner emerges from the program a better global citizen.
Paul Bogard has stared into the night sky from different parts of the U.S. as he taught everywhere from New Mexico, Nevada, Wisconsin and North Carolina before settling in Virginia. However, no matter where Paul looked, one thing remained true: artificial light was interfering with the view.
Paul Bogard, a native Minnesotan, is an assistant professor of English at JMU, teaching creative nonfiction writing and environmental literature. He recently published The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. Bogard’s novel focuses on the negative impact of artificial light and the human experience. He points out that “for most of human history, the experience of stepping outside to come face to face with the universe at night was one of the most common human experiences, but now it has become one of the most rare.” Instead, he says, people seek out light and have come to associate it with a false sense of safety and security.
Not only has artificial light affected the human experience, the book interconnects our health and the health of our ecosystem in regards to artificial light as threatening “our physical health by disrupting our sleep, confusing our circadian rhythms and impeding the production of the hormone melatonin. In addition, our light pollution endangers the ecosystems on which we rely on by destroying the darkness that is habitat for 60% of invertebrate species and 30% of vertebrate species, all of which are nocturnal.”
Bogard’s work has been well received by critics, described as “a lyrical, far-reaching book. Part elegy, part call to arms, The End of Night feels like an essential addition to the literature of nature” by the Boston Globe. Bogard’s hope is to make JMU community aware of the darkness and to embrace it; he believes “we have a wonderful opportunity to change this situation by becoming aware of the value of darkness and the costs of light pollution, and from there beginning to change the way we use light at night.” He believes the JMU community can emerge as leaders in addressing the problem.
Bogard’s next novel will also be a part of the environmental literature genre, as he has already begun researching national parks, new mapping technologies and bird dogs.
Since he was a kid, Dr. Reid Harris loved learning about frogs and salamanders. While an undergraduate at Duke University, Harris realized that he could have the best of both worlds: study amphibians for the rest of his life and share his enthusiasm for biology by teaching college classes and directing research projects. His undergraduate mentor, Dr. Henry Wilbur, was influential in this decision and Harris later completed is doctorate under Dr. Wilbur’s tutelage.
Harris’s research at JMU focuses on disease mitigation through the use of topical probiotics. The bacterial cells that live on, and in, our bodies outnumber our own cells by a ten to one ratio. Although some bacteria are harmful to humans, most species are not harmful and can even be beneficial. Probiotic therapy is the use of these beneficial bacteria to achieve a positive health outcome. Probiotics, such as the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt, has been shown to prevent and treat several diseases of the intestinal tract. Over the years, Harris feels fortunate to have worked with a wonderful group of postdoctoral associates, master’s students and undergraduate students on furthering probiotic research.
Recently, Harris has been researching Bd, a lethal skin fungus, which has decimated amphibian populations worldwide. In the mountains of Panamá, almost half of amphibian populations have decreased, or become extinct altogether, because of Bd. Bd appears to be spread by humans through various methods such as the pet trade. Amphibians are valuable to our ecosystem through insect control and production of secretions that have been models for valuable human pharmaceuticals. Recently, it was discovered by a scientist at Vanderbilt University that an amphibian secretion can inhibit HIV.
In a number of laboratory experiments, Harris and his lab were able to show that probiotic additions of antifungal bacteria can protect amphibians from the harmful effects of Bd. In the lab, they discovered that amphibian skins have protective bacteria that can inhibit and kill the lethal pathogen, Bd. With collaboration from his team, Harris was able to show that the probiotic therapy can also work outside the lab in field conditions. Members of his laboratory are working on how to deliver these probiotics to large numbers of amphibians in the field. These methods can involve adding the probiotic to ponds where amphibians congregate to breed. Harris and his team recognized that they would need use locally-occurring bacteria so that nothing exotic or invasive is added to the ecosystem.
One of the largest amphibian ecosystems exists on the island of Madagascar which has about 500 species of frogs. Currently Bd is absent from the island, but scientist worry it may arrive at any time given the rate at which it has spread around the world. Harris has been working with former student, Molly Bletz, on a project that identifies antifungal probiotics in Madagascar. Bletz plans to pursue this project for her doctoral research.
Besides protecting frogs from Bd, probiotics can be used to protect other endangered species that are being bred in captivity before they are released into the wild. For example, hellbender salamanders are a threatened species in Ohio (among other states) and are being raised in captive breeding facilities. Harris and former student, Andy Loudon, are working to find effective probiotics for the salamander species to ease their transition from zoo colonies into the field. Another former student, Matt Becker, now a doctoral student at Virginia Tech, is working on finding probiotics to allow the Panamanian golden frog to be repatriated to nature. This species is culturally important in Panamá, but is extinct in nature. Fortunately, this species is being successfully raised in a number of zoos around the world.
The Harris lab has also connected human fungal diseases, such as athletes’ foot disease, with the amphibian bacteria. They found that the bacteria, also found on human skin, can inhibit the fungus that causes athletes’ foot. Harris and his colleague, Dr. Kevin Minbiole, of Villanova University and the James Madison Institute, have a patent on this potential skin probiotic. Athletes’ foot disease can be difficult to treat with drugs, so their hope is that a skin probiotic will help cure this disease.
In addition to his work on probiotics, Harris’s lab is studying the basic question of amphibians’ microbial ecology, such as what is the relationship of microbial community structure and protection from disease. This work is part of a collaboration with Virginia Tech and Villanova and is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity program.
Harris has been named a Madison Scholar in the College of Science and Mathematics and received a Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research. He was recently elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his research in amphibian microbial ecology.
Back row (left to right): Brendan English, Schyler Bogert, Michael McCullough, John Sims
Front row: Bela Reeves, Kendra Christensen
JMU undergraduate students Schyler Bogert, Brendan English, Kendra Christensen, Michael McCullough, Bela Reeves and John Sims won the district title in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's College Fed Challenge competition. The team was coached by Professor Philip Heap.
The JMU team competed in the district finals against teams from American University and Elon University. By winning the district title, the JMU team advanced to the national competition, which was held Dec. 2 at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Board Room in Washington, D.C.
At the 10th annual national convention, Harvard College won the College Fed Challenge, while JMU received an honorable mention.
The College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate college students inspired by the work of the Federal Open Market Committee. The challenge is intended to encourage students to learn more about the U.S. macro economy, the Federal Reserve System and the implementation of monetary and financial stability policies. The competition serves to spur interest in economics and finance as well as help students with advancing their studies and beginning their careers.
During the competition, students delivered 15-minute presentations on monetary policy and also fielded questions from judges during a 15-minute question and answer session. Teams were scored on content and analysis, response to questions, teamwork, presentation and style.
When asked about his experience, Brendan English noted “This was my second time competing in the Fed Challenge and I have to say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. The Fed Challenge provides an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the real-world application of macroeconomic theory beyond what is taught in the classroom, and I believe the hours of hard work dedicated by the team, and our coach Professor Heap, exemplifies the type of student-professor interaction that makes JMU an extraordinary undergraduate institution.”
College of Business Dean, Mary Gowan, adds, “Congratulations to the Fed Challenge team! I know that coaching a team like this takes a lot of time and energy. I appreciate the hard work and dedication of the team members and their coach, Professor Heap. You represented JMU and the College of Business well!”
She goes on to state, “Giving students the opportunity to participate in real-world experiences is one of the hallmarks of the College of Business. The college focuses on analytical, problem-solving, communications, and teamwork skills, which are highly valued in the business world. We are proud to see our students use these skills to successfully compete in competitions such as the Fed Challenge.”
Junior musical theatre major Ben Stoll is flying high these days. He recently starred in the Forbes Center’s Studio Production of Godspell, where he played Jesus, the lead role and the “most meaningful” he has played in his young career thus far.
Stoll was also one of eight students who took the stage with musical theatre icon Patti LuPone when she performed her new concert “COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA … played that role” at the Forbes Center in September. Stoll sang choral parts on “Trouble” and “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”
“Both working and performing with Miss LuPone met and exceeded my expectations. She is truly a master in the field, and it was both enlightening and awe-inspiring to watch her work,” exclaims Stoll.
Stoll says his favorite part in working with Miss LuPone was in rehearsal when she sang “Sleepy Man” from The Robber Bridegroom, and she invited the musical theatre students to “gather around the piano with her to learn it.” Stoll reveals that during the course of singing and improvising harmonies, “she was moved to tears … an indescribably wonderful moment.”
Following the rehearsal, musical theatre coordinator Kate Arecchi helped the students learn their parts in preparation for performing the song with Miss LuPone during her actual performance. According to Stoll, it was live onstage that Miss LuPone “again grew emotional and gave each of us a hug.” Stoll says, “To be able to say that I was hugged by Patti LuPone onstage is pretty much fantastic. It was an experience I will never forget.”
Stoll grew up just down the road from Harrisonburg in Waynesboro. He attended school across the street from the Blackfriar’s Playhouse, where he was introduced to the world of professional theatre. Stoll says participating in community theatre musicals from “elementary school on” sparked a love for the field.
Stoll was hooked on JMU after touring the campus and seeing the Forbes Center. During his studies, he met fellow students and faculty, including Arecchi. Stoll considers Arecchi a director, but also a friend, and describes her as “passionate, honest and so incredibly helpful.”
Arecchi is certainly glad to have Stoll as part of the program. She says, “He is a strong positive presence in the collaborative process. He is a generous leader and a gifted artist and scholar.”
Stoll, who admittedly spends a lot of time busy with theatre performances, is highly motivated to learn. He is in the Honors Program and likes to take 19-20 credit hours per semester. Stoll is double-majoring in English and theatre and dance with a concentration in musical theatre. He is also involved with InterVarsity, a Christian organization on campus.
Stoll considers himself “blessed” to be part of the musical theatre program. In addition to playing Jesus in Godspell, Stoll acted in the studio productions of Lucky Stiff and Awake and Sing as well as the main stage performances of Romeo and Juliet and Sweeney Todd.
Stoll is performing in From Here … to Broadway … and Beyond: A Musical Theatre Revue in October, and he looks forward to taking a playwriting class next semester. As for Stoll’s future beyond JMU, Stoll says, “I need to do something in which I am using my voice.”
The Office of International Programs celebrated its 25th anniversary of partnership with the University of Salamanca in Spain for the Semester in Salamanca (SIS) program. In 1987, the first group of JMU students landed in Salamanca and paved the way for the more than 2000 who have participated. The program was designed to be a Spanish language and culture experience in which students take classes taught by Spanish professors and live with local host families.
JMU hosted an SIS reunion in April to celebrate, which was a grand success. Seventy-five people gathered to renew friendships, share memories and honor Jesús Jiménez and his wife Ana Caro. They both work onsite with the program, with Jiménez serving as resident director and Caro acting as housing coordinator. They visited JMU for the festivities, along with Noemí Domínguez, Vice Rector for International and Institutional Relations at the University of Salamanca. During the celebration, returning alums and JMU faculty dined on traditional Spanish foods and drinks as well as visited a winery.
Alums from the very first group that participated in the program have fond memories of their SIS experiences. Monica Boyd (’88), who taught high school Spanish for nine years, commented, “Without the trip I don’t know if I would have gotten my Spanish degree and gone on to be a teacher.” “I think it was where I learned how to learn,” said Alli Alligood (’88). “To be in a class where someone is poetically describing architecture and art and then to walk out into the city and see it was awesome. It was the first time I was exposed to that much culture, that much art, that much history and language, and a whole different social order all at once. I appreciated every morsel of the experience.”
The second part of the celebration took place in Salamanca with a visit from Dr. Jerry Benson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at JMU; Dr. Lee Sternberger, executive director of the JMU Office of International Programs; Felix Wang, director of the JMU Study Abroad program; and Jesús Jiménez. They met with Salamanca’s mayor, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, and Noemí Domínguez for a local news press conference. In addition, JMU SIS students, past and present host families, and professors at the University of Salamanca participated in the events.
Looking Ahead to New Opportunities –
Double Master’s Degree
JMU and the University of Salamanca (USAL) have agreed to partner in a double master’s program where students can earn a master’s degree from each institution. The collaboration is pioneered by the Spanish Language Department at the USAL and the College of Education at JMU. Upon completion, students will earn a Master in Languages and Culture from USAL and Master of Education from JMU. The program is designed for teachers of Spanish in the United States who are interested in continuing their academic preparation.
The blended learning structure of the program allows teachers to continue their professional careers while pursuing their degrees. Students will enroll at JMU during a summer session, then attend classes at USAL the following summer. The remaining courses are offered online. The curriculum consists of courses such as Learning Theories and Practice, Curriculum Design, Cross-Cultural Education, Spanish and Hispano-American Literature, and Spanish History and Culture. Students will be supervised by faculty from both institutions and also have the opportunity to engage in a practicum.
Being smart has its benefits. For Honors students, acceptance in the competitive program means access to smaller classes with special curriculum, a living-learning community in Shenandoah Hall, their own dedicated computing lab, study abroad opportunities and one-on-one faculty mentorship for their senior research project. Field trips, concerts, speakers and other special events round out the Honors experience to prepare students for graduate school or their future careers.
Top Majors of Recent Honors Students
3. Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies
5. Health Sciences
6. Communication Sciences and Disorders
7. Chemistry and Biochemistry
8. Media Arts and Design
Madison Alumni Conference gives alumni opportunities for meaningful involvement with JMU
By James Irwin ('06)
In addition to alumni volunteers, the conference also featured students who will make up the leadership board of JMU's Student Alumni Association, set to launch in the fall.
More than 60 alumni leaders returned to Harrisonburg the first weekend of June to attend the annual Madison Alumni Conference, a weekend-long program designed to recruit, train and recognize alumni volunteers.
A partnership-driven conference that brings back JMUAA chapter leaders, Duke Club reps and Admissions Recruitment Volunteers who represent Madison at college fairs throughout the country, MAC is a winner of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's prestigious Award of Excellence. The conference builds a network of JMU graduates who are informed, involved and invested in shaping the future of James Madison University.
"As an alum, the MAC conference was a great opportunity to gain insight into what's happening around campus," said Heather Cote ('09), a member of the MetroDukes Chapter who served as vice president for membership and outreach from 2011-13. "[It was exciting to] hear more about leadership's vision for the future."
The workshop-oriented weekend featured presentations from JMU President Jonathan Alger, senior vice president Dr. Mark Warner ('79, '81M, '85Ed.S), JMU Alumni Association Executive Director Ashley Privott and Dr. Margaret Sloan from JMU's School of Strategic Leadership Studies. JMU Alumni Association president Jamie Jones Miller ('99) also presented Alger with a $100,000 check from the JMU Alumni Association to the Madison Forever Vision Fund. JMUAA had issued a matching gift challenge to alumni at Alger's March 15 presidential inauguration, pledging to match every $2 raised privately with $1 from the association.
Vision Fund fundraising has raised $340,000 to date thanks to gifts from more than 2,800 donors, including a $25,000 contribution from The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County on behalf of Joe Showker ('79) and his wife Debbie Showker ('78), and a leadership gift from JMU Alumni Association president-elect Larry Caudle ('82) and his wife Barbara Caudle ('81).
"It's time to give back," Barbara Caudle said. "This is an opportunity to elevate JMU and enhance our reputation as a best-value school. By doing things with students, the school, being engaged, giving, enriching the school's reputation—that's how we can stay involved."
Meaningful involvement was a theme Alger returned to frequently during his keynote address to attendees, as he led discussion of James Madison's vision for an educated society, JMU's aspiration to become a national model of civil discourse and the importance of personal interactions, faculty support and student scholarship. In addition to alumni volunteers, the conference also featured students who will make up the leadership board of JMU's Student Alumni Association, set to launch in the fall.
"One of my favorite aspects of the conference this year was the involvement from current students," Cote said. "It was refreshing to see the passion they have for becoming informed, involved alumni, and to see the university nurturing that engagement long before they receive their diploma."
Learn more about the Madison Forever Vision Fund.
Learn more about MAC.
See the event photos.
The vision began with a question.
When Jonathan Alger took to the road in the summer of 2012 to begin his introductory tour as JMU's sixth president, he framed the conversation with a query.
Why Madison? Why JMU? Why us? Why now?
The answers came through in waves of purple, highlighting recurring themes of citizenship, involvement, volunteerism, community and problem solving. Out of the interactions on the Presidential Listening Tour came a vision for JMU's future—to elevate Madison into the national model for the engaged university—and the establishment of a fund to turn that vision into a reality.
That Madison Forever Vision Fund already has received a matching-gift commitment of up to $100,000 from the JMU Alumni Association, and a personal gift from the association board's president-elect, Larry Caudle ('82) and his wife, Barbara ('81).
"JMU has made a big difference in our lives," Larry Caudle said. "I think the Vision Fund is a unique opportunity. It's a vote of confidence in how we feel about President Alger and where JMU is going."
Alger, the Madison Experience, and the future
In the 30 years since graduation, Barbara and Larry Caudle, the JMU Alumni Association president-elect, have maintained strong ties to Madison through giving, volunteerism and mentoring.
The Caudles met President Alger during the "Why Madison?" tour. As longtime donors and advocates for the university they were curious about meeting Alger—the first president to come to JMU from an outside university in 41 years.
"In the past, promoting from within had worked so well," Larry Caudle said. "So like many alumni, when we heard our new president was coming from outside the JMU family—and from a large research institution—we were concerned a person could come from there and really understand the Madison Experience.
"Then we got to meet President Alger."
Citing Alger's vision for Madison as a model of engagement, the Caudles took an immediate liking to the new president, his family, and his idea of building on JMU's strengths.
"We've seen how our presidents have made a big difference," Barbara Caudle said. "Dr. Carrier and Dr. Rose had great visions and this allows President Alger to pursue his vision."
Paving the way
While the goal to elevate JMU began with the "Why Madison?" tour, the path forward will be paved by alumni, donors, students and friends of the university.
In addition to the presidential tour, the Caudles have participated in town hall panels hosted by the Madison Future Commission. Larry Caudle also serves on MFC's fundraising committee and chairs the JMU Alumni Association's strategic planning committee, where, alongside JMUAA President Jamie Jones Miller ('99), he works to form a stronger partnership between the association and the university.
"The Caudles' gift, and their involvement in JMU, are a great example of how alumni can be informed, involved and invested in shaping JMU's future," JMU Alumni Association Executive Director Ashley Privott said. "To me, this goes to defining the relationship they want JMU alumni to have with their alma mater, where the mutual goals of the university and university graduates are achieved."
More than anything, the Caudles said, the inauguration of a new president and the establishment of the vision fund serve as a kickoff for a new direction of full, meaningful engagement. The Caudles were heavily involved in Greek Life as students, and have maintained strong ties to Madison through giving, volunteerism and mentoring in the 30 years since their graduation. They believe true engagement is achieved by looking at the big picture, where donors, volunteers, mentors and advocates overlap to lift Madison to the next level.
"It's time to give back," Barbara Caudle said. "This is an opportunity to elevate JMU and enhance our reputation as a best-value school. By doing things with students, the school, being engaged, giving, enriching the school's reputation—that's how we can stay involved."
"What if there was one prescription that could prevent and treat dozens of diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity?" -Robert E. Sallis, M.D., M.P.H., FACSM, Exercise is Medicine™ Task Force Chairman
In collaboration with the University Counseling & Student Development Center, Health Center, and Student Wellness and Outreach, students may be referred to UREC's Exercise is Medicine on Campus program based on their need for services. Students may also contact team participants for a consultation to determine if our programs and services can meet their needs. Students will have a greater opportunity to increase physical activity levels based on their individual needs and have a better understanding of general nutrition to promote overall health and well-being. Those students who are unfamiliar with UREC programs and services will have opportunities to meet with professional staff members to learn about classes and workshops that could meet their needs (yoga, meditation, dance classes).
Students will initially consult with one of the UREC Professional Staff members on the EIMC team. While one-on-one programs such as personal training and nutrition analysis may not interest everyone, all UREC programs and services will be recommended based on individual goals. Alternatives will be provided based on the needs of each participant. Guidelines will also be provided for those participants interested in exercising outside of UREC.
Regular physical activity at the correct intensity:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease by 40%.
- Lowers the risk of stroke by 27%.
- Reduces the incidence of diabetes by almost 50%.
- Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure, by almost 50%.
- Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by almost 50%.
- Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.
- Can reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease by one-third.
- Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.
Learn more about Exercise is Medicine on JMU's campus.
Written by Heather Gately ('13)
I quickly realized during my time at JMU that UREC was no ordinary "gym." It is a recreation center that is home to a wide variety of activities with the goal of "Motivating Madison Into Motion". The environment and people bring an energy to this campus that is truly motivating. I wanted to share some things that surprised me about UREC - that I thought would be beneficial for incoming students, or anyone else in the JMU community that has yet to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities UREC has to offer.
Here are the five surprising things I found at UREC:
5. All Different Kinds of Dukes
Did you know that there were over 500,000 visits to UREC last year? I have found the most diverse sampling of the JMU community within the walls of UREC. Everyone has their own perception about what the “typical JMU student” looks like, but take one step into UREC and that perception will be wiped clean. No matter your year, gender, major, fitness level, or interest, UREC offers something for everybody. It’s the perfect place to meet new people who share your favorite activities or to try something new and exciting!
4. A Place to Relax and Relieve Stress
Exercise can be one of the best forms of stress-relief. I’ll never forget the feeling I had walking out of my first Zumba class at UREC. It was like the weight of midterms had been lifted off my shoulders, and I was ready to meringue and sashay my way to Carrier Library and take on studying with a whole new attitude. Then there was the post-breakup boxing session where I did some seriously therapeutic visualization of my ex’s face in the middle of my punching bag. For those times I was looking for a more low key approach to stress-relief, there were yoga and meditation classes, the spa and sauna, and even my favorite “treat-yo-self” activity, UREC massage appointments.
3. An Awesome Outdoor Park
For those of you who haven't been there yet, University Park is an off-campus recreation facility that just opened in 2012. It has turf fields, courts for basketball, sand volleyball, and tennis, and it even has an 18-hole disc golf course. There are changing rooms, a grass lawn, and a pavilion that is perfect for picnics and cookouts. This summer I had a blast playing Disc Golf with my friends! Even though I’m a novice with no discs of my own, I was able to check out a set from the Gatehouse for free. There are buses that run regularly to the facility, and it’s only a couple minutes from campus up Port Republic Road, so you have no excuse not to get out there this year!
2. Opportunities to Give Back
UREC is a place with a heart. Both the staff and the participants of UREC help make charitable efforts every year. The annual Warm A Winter Wish fundraiser collects hundreds of holiday presents for people in need from several organizations in the Harrisonburg area. The fundraiser concludes with a wrapping party that attracts speakers and entertainment from all over campus. UREC also leads several alternative break service trips, including a Spring Break trip to the Bahamas, at which participants facilitate team building activities and fitness education for children at a primary school on New Providence Island.
1. A Meaningful On-Campus Job
Applying for a job at UREC was the best decision I made at JMU. At the time, I had no idea that it would be the defining element of my college experience, but I soon came to realize that it would have a massive impact on my life. The people are wonderful and the atmosphere is always positive and uplifting. Not only have I formed relationships that will last a lifetime, but I’ve also learned just as much at UREC as I have in the classroom. Working at UREC has taught me skills in time management, leadership, team building, service ethic, as well as the widespread benefits of a healthy lifestyle. My job at UREC has been so much more than a paycheck, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to learn more about working at UREC!
The Honors Program at James Madison University is pleased to welcome 208 first year students as members of the 2017 Class of Honors Scholars. Members of the incoming JMU Honors freshman class were selected in the spring from a group of more than 1,200 applicants. Harrisonburg native Hannah Pellegrino was one of them. “Last year, I certainly didn’t picture myself attending JMU,” Pellegrino admits. “Yet here I am studying Psychology and Spanish, and I couldn’t be happier.”
'It’s such a great location and a really cool community to grow up in.'
Pellegrino walked right across the street to come to college. Growing up in Harrisonburg gave her a unique familiarity with the campus, events, and some of the social aspects. “It’s such a great location and a really cool community to grow up in,” she says. “The quad was my playground, and the big rock sitting there – the ‘Kissing Rock’ – was my whale. I used to climb on top of it and pretend I was on a sea voyage.
A graduate of Eastern Mennonite High, Pellegrino served as class president her senior year and captain of the school’s 2013 state champion soccer team. She was deeply involved in many other service groups and activities there, including the chapel planning and social committees, and the Christmas fund drive. An accomplished soprano, Pellegrino sang with a competitive touring choir and Virginia’s District Chorus. Pellegrino also volunteered in the evenings, providing childcare to parenting classes for struggling families in the community. “I watched the kids while the parents went to class,” she remembers. “It was very rewarding, but also eye-opening to see that, in my own community, there were people hurting.”
Pellegrino joined a medical mission trip to Honduras, where she worked shoulder to shoulder with healthcare workers, soothing children as they had warts and other growths removed from their faces without anesthetic. Numerous times she’s been to the slum of La Carpio, Costa Rica with her mother, helping a local woman develop a preschool program for children and teachers. “The entire slum is built on a landfill,” Pellegrino says. “They are literally living on trash. It can seem hopeless from afar, but I got to see firsthand all the little pockets of hope.”
JMU students on an Alternative Spring Break trip in Jamaica. Pellegrino participated in service-learning trips like this in high school.
Pellegrino also participated in a school-led trip to Marantha School for the Deaf in Jamaica, where she learned that it was possible to harmonize musically without producing a single audible note. “We were doing worship with the kids at this school and it came time to sing,” she recalls. “None of these kids can sing. But they can still express themselves through their hands. It was absolutely stunning. They were signing with incredible emotion, and as a wonderful ensemble.” Pellegrino says she realized at that moment that everyone on the earth can be connected as a single people, and that building community, kinship, and relationships with others is one of the most important things we as humans can do.
A member of the Psychology Learning Community in Hoffman Hall, Pellegrino says she is fascinated with the developmental side of the field. “I did a senior research project on empathy in infants and young children. I’m interested in how children build relationships at a very early age, and how important those relationships become later in life.” Hoffman residents are involved in field work at Western State Hospital in Staunton. “I’ve got such a community of support,” she says. “My hall mates are fantastic. I’d like to branch out into other areas too, and really soak up as much as I can about all kinds of psychology.”
Hannah Pellegrino lives and learns in the eco-friendly Hoffman Hall, home to Madison's learning communities.
Pellegrino advises other freshmen to be open to opportunities rather than decide well in advance precisely what they intend to do. “Don’t have an agenda for yourself. Don’t feel like you are going through a checklist of experiences or things you need to do or not be involved in. Push yourself to step out of your comfort zone and try things you wouldn’t ordinarily try. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are lost, ask someone. I got totally lost in the bowels of Taylor Hall. People were excited to help me.”
'My professors here really want to make me a better person, and care deeply about my education.'
Pellegrino warns classmates not to “get on such an academic track that they lose the value of learning” too. College, she says, is not all about getting grades and graduating to something better. “My professors here really want to make me a better person, and care deeply about my education. I’m going to continue to learn how to think and debate and talk about how the world works. It’s a process that none of us should really rush.” She notes that this is especially good advice for Honors students, who so often end up on a “speedway where the ‘normal’ feels behind and the ‘advanced’ feels normal.” Pellegrino is a member of the National Honor Society, a Rotary Scholar for service, and one of JMU’s prestigious Thomas and Karyn Dingledine Scholars.
It isn’t all studying and volunteering for Pellegrino, however. She likes to hang out at Starbucks with her friends and watch movies back in the residence hall. “I’ve loved getting to know new people and build new friendships inside and outside of class.”
Acceptance into the Honors Program comes with access to a unique curriculum, access to a living-learning community in Shenandoah Hall, a dedicated computing lab in Hillcrest House, special study abroad opportunities, and individualized faculty mentorship on an undergraduate senior research project. Honors students receive preparation for post-baccalaureate education and careers, and expand their horizons to all corners of the globe. A number of co-curricular activities supplement the in-class curriculum, including field trips, concerts, speakers, and other special events.
Honors Study Abroad builds independence, confidence and a new, globally minded perspective
By James Hong ('14)
The workload is immense but the payoff is great. That is the message faculty members teaching the James Madison University Honors Program seminar abroad want their students to know. To prepare for the summer honors seminar abroad the participating students were assigned research and readings, attended lectures and films and met throughout the spring semester to prepare for the trip.
'Rarely do you get the chance to fulfill a class requirement while going on field trips, eating delicious food and living in a foreign country.'
Junior media arts and design major Sean Byrne said the seminar abroad is a great way to fulfill the honors seminar requirement while experiencing something totally new. “It takes you out of the classroom, out of the textbooks and brings you right to the front door of the stuff you’ve only ‘learned’ about,” he said. “Rarely do you get the chance to fulfill a class requirement while going on field trips, eating delicious food and living in a foreign country.”
Illuminating the Lives of Another Time and Place
The Honors Program at JMU strives for its students to cultivate and develop skills through challenging, yet rewarding, academic experiences—the honors seminar abroad program is no exception.
As part of the Honors Program’s requirements students must complete six credit hours of honors seminars – courses that explore contemporary issues in society, multicultural and comparative studies, advanced applications in business, and the natural and social sciences. Students in the Honors Program have a choice of completing honors seminars as classes on campus or while studying abroad.
This past summer, two programs were offered to honors students in order to fulfill the honors seminar abroad option: Modern Barcelona and Art, Culture and Politics in Medici Florence. Both programs integrated a classroom component with excursions to museums, monuments and other local hotspots.
'We hope students’ understanding is rich and deep because of their immersion in the class.'
“The course is very interdisciplinary,” said Dr. Linda Cabe Halpern, vice provost for University Programs, about the Medici Florence program. “It aims to illuminate the lives and values of another time and place. We hope students’ understanding is rich and deep because of their immersion in the class.”
Students participating in an honors seminar abroad met regularly throughout the spring semester in order to get better acquainted with each other and the instructors, while also preparing for the adventures of the upcoming summer through various readings, films and lectures.
“At first I was a little overwhelmed with all the readings and countless topics we were covering,” junior musical theater major Courtney Jamison said. “It all didn’t really seem to come together until we were finally up on our feet exploring the various churches and museums.”
For the faculty members, preparing for the program involved a different kind of research.
“I’ve traveled to Barcelona a dozen times – even lived there for a few months at a time,” said Jessica Davidson, associate professor of history. “But to prepare for a JMU study abroad course, I scouted hotels in a safe and central neighborhood and made lots of contacts with museums and scholars in the area.”
Making a Lasting Impact
Faculty believe the study abroad experience provides students with a new, globally minded perspective of the world, as well as building their independence and confidence.
“[Students] believe they are more prepared to handle all sorts of things because of the experience,” said Halpern about how students benefit from their time in Florence. “In an increasingly global society, the lessons of differences in cultural attitudes and behaviors are also very important.”
The students agree, citing the cultural immersion as one of the most important aspects of the trip.
“Overall, the cultural immersion is so important. We were really living in Florence for three weeks, we weren’t staying in hotels in the tourist area,” Jamison said. "We were getting to create and experience with the Florentines. That was really special."
'We were getting to create and experience with the Florentines. That was really special.'
Not only does the program enlighten students on the global community that they are all a part of, but it is also a means of bringing individuals from various backgrounds together to form another type of community. Halpern noted “studying abroad together, with representation from lots of different majors and all of [the students] working hard to keep up with the class material and understand the class content, is an amazing learning environment.”
Although they prepared for the program all semester and were in-country three weeks, the adventures of studying abroad did not end when the students returned stateside.
“We have seen real growth and maturity, even over three weeks, as students learn that they are competent to manage in a different culture and situations that are not familiar to them,” said Halpern. “They believe they are more prepared to handle all sorts of things because of this experience.”
Honors Program Director Dr. Barry Falk said plans are in place for summer 2014. JMU will offer three honors seminar abroad programs: London: Art and Economics in the Bloomsbury Group; Barcelona: 20th-Century Barcelona; and for the first time South Africa: Separateness in a Connected World: A Glimpse Into Post-Apartheid South Africa.
To learn more about the Honors Program: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/
To learn more about the Honors Seminar Abroad: http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/current-students/study-abroad.shtml
A Hillcrest Scholarship gave honors student Carly Starke (’14) a chance to be at the forefront of scientific research and discover her life’s ambition
By Jan Gillis (’07)
Carly Starke and FDA mentor Dr. Madushini Dharmasena pose in front of Starke's poster outlining her summer research on improving the typhoid vaccine.
Carly Starke ('14) came to JMU with a solid idea of what she wanted to achieve. A high school internship with a pharmaceutical company had sparked her interest in vaccine development. "I knew I wanted a biotechnology career," she says, "and JMU's biotechnology program fit my interests." Another plus, she says was that JMU offered freshmen opportunities in research. She knew she could be working in a lab "right away."
It's proven a good choice.
As anticipated, she began her first year at Madison doing research with integrated science and technology professor Louise Temple. "The class that started it all was viral discovery, hands-on research geared to freshmen. It's not like other biology classes where you do routine projects. Each day everyone was doing their own research," she says. "Dr. Temple has been there for me since day one, and the people I met in that freshman class are still my friends today," she says. "She has done everything to encourage me."
One of those points of encouragement was Temple's recommendation that Starke apply for a Hillcrest Scholarship. Awarded to sophomore honors students, the scholarships support an off-campus summer enrichment experience that complements classroom learning. Recipients develop and refine the project of their choice with a faculty mentor throughout their junior year and implement the project during the summer between their third and final undergraduate year. Under Temple's guidance, Starke applied for and won a Hillcrest Scholarship for Research.
Already familiar with pharmaceutical research and having experienced research in an academic environment at JMU, Starke wanted to use the scholarship to supply a missing element to her experience. "I wanted to see what government research would be like," she says. Her off-campus summer experience was working at the Food and Drug Administration on the development of a new typhoid vaccine.
"At FDA I got the basic science that academia provides but on a huge scale with many more opportunities than would be possible at a university," she says. And, unlike pharmaceutical work, which is often repetitive, "Every day was different at the FDA," she says. "I could look at my results and change conditions of my research the next day to see what would work."
Her scholarship experience gave her a chance to be at the forefront of discovery, and she realized she had a passion for basic research. "I love finding what no one else has discovered," she says.
As part of the experience, Starke was one of approximately 700 presenters at a National Institutes of Health poster session where she shared her findings with other scientists and researchers. "I talked to scientists who I look up to," she says. "They were interested in what I did, how I conducted my research and my findings. One scientist working on an influenza vaccine came up and asked me about my process saying that it might help them improve their process."
It was an empowering experience. The very people whose research she had read and studied in her academic career acknowledged her as a colleague. "I had the opportunity to work with and share research results with them," she says.
As Starke looks to her future, she sees a real benefit in remaining in government research. "You have a better opportunity to publish in this environment. You get to share your knowledge. ... I enjoy putting out the work I do and getting feedback from other researchers. It informs where you can take your research. "
Her experience in government research also helped inform where she wants to take herself. "In the future I know I want to be in the lab working on vaccine development," Starke says. "I enjoy the molecular biology aspect of it, as well as testing out conditions."
What could her future in vaccine development hold? "I think we'll see science enhancing, improving and gaining more knowledge about what we use now," she says. "Take influenza. A large concern today is that influenza strains undergo frequent rearrangement of genetic strains with the potential of spreading disease that people have no immunization against. There's great concern of a potential pandemic," Starke says. "Today, we have to create a new influenza vaccine year after year. In the future, we may be able to create a universal vaccine that would be able to protect against the influenza virus in totality."
There's no doubt that Starke knows her career direction. "The Hillcrest Scholarship gave me a chance to see what research in the real world was like. And, that's where I'm headed now. I'm planning on going into government research at the FDA, NIH or the Centers for Disease Control."
Starke has outlined a great beginning for her future, but she's not thinking small. "My ultimate goal is a Nobel Prize. I know it's a big goal, but I can push myself toward it."