Alumni support making the Vision a reality
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."