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This week's presidential inauguration is about all of us

Message for President's Council Members
March 11, 2013

by Jonathan R. Alger, President

President's Council logo

This Friday, March 15, 2013, I will be inaugurated as the sixth president of James Madison University. I consider it a privilege to be a part of the welcoming, caring, accomplished, entrepreneurial and innovative educational community that I have gotten to know during the last eight months. I have learned so much from the hundreds of people I have met through more than 40 receptions and meetings on the “Why Madison?” Listening tour. I have witnessed an unrivaled commitment to educating JMU students and an outpouring of pride in Madison’s distinct approach to doing so.

The Inauguration of Jonathan R. Alger, March 15, 2013Please join me March 13 at the live ceremony or via webcast. Details here.

Government and JMU officials will offer greetings

A university presidential inauguration is a ceremony that follows a rather prescribed format. Because JMU is a public university of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there will be greetings from representatives of government, presidents of other universities, the JMU Board of Visitors, and representatives of JMU’s official bodies—the Faculty Senate, the SGA, the JMU Alumni Association, for instance. There will be honored guests, like former Presidents Carrier and Rose, distinguished alumni and others.

My mentors and role models will join us

'I want to stress that this inauguration is absolutely personal. It is about you and about the Madison community through which we are all connected. I sincerely hope you can be in attendance at the inauguration.'

Along with my wife, Mary Ann, and my daughter, Eleanor, we will also be joined by some personal guests—people who have played a special part in my life. My parents (Gary and Alice Alger) and Mary Ann’s parents (Chuck and Connie Bovay) will be with us, along with members of our extended family on both sides. Friends and former colleagues who helped shape my career from Rutgers, the University of Michigan, the American Association of University Professors and the Department of Education will be coming. Mentors and role models from the National Association of College and University Attorneys, American Bar Association, and other national organizations will be in attendance. John Lynd, a very special teacher from my high school who encouraged me to expand my horizons by going to Japan as an exchange student more than 30 years ago, will be coming up from Florida with his wife Judy. And George and Jackie Nagorny will join us from Pennsylvania, where as community members many years ago they “adopted” me while I was a student at Swarthmore — taking me to church and choir rehearsals and even giving me my first real professional experience at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. Along with many other friends and colleagues who will join us, these personal connections serve as a testament to the interconnectedness of all of our lives. I am honored and humbled to have them all with us on Friday.

My inauguration is absolutely personal

Mary Ann, Jon and Eleanor Alger pose before a fireplace at Madison While the majesty and magnitude of ceremony can seem at times to overshadow those kinds of meaningful personal connections, I want to stress that this inauguration is absolutely personal. It is all of those connections writ large. It is about you and about the Madison community through which we are all connected. You are Madison, and for that reason, I sincerely hope you can be in attendance at the inauguration. You will find all of the event details at the Inauguration webpage. You can also read about the work and accomplishments of my presidential predecessors in a feature on the site.

Madison people are the inspiration for my remarks

I am working on my remarks for the ceremony now. As I try to put my thoughts into words, I am recalling the many students, professors, parents, alumni, donors and friends I have encountered who have made JMU what it is, who uphold the values of this distinct educational culture, and who want to help us steer a course for what comes next. I will be including many of the sentiments they offered in my inauguration remarks.

Madison has set its hopes high for the future

President Alger sits for a question and answer session and photo shootPreview the question-and-answer session filmed for Madison magazine. This video concerns the Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action.

In preparation for the inauguration, I was interviewed recently by Madison, the JMU magazine, which will come out soon after the inauguration. The question-and-answer session was videotaped, and I had my photo taken. In fact, I believe I have had my photo taken more during my first eight months as JMU president than in my whole life previously. That is because the Madison community has rightly set its hopes high for the future of JMU. The attention that comes from that enthusiasm and those well wishes is inspirational and invigorating. As I prepare for the inauguration, I want you to know that I take your personal wishes, your commitment to excellence, and your dedication to educating students to heart.

People are our most important resource

You remind me that the most important thing I have heard reinforced in my first eight months as James Madison University’s sixth president is that our people are our most valuable resource. We have a wonderful, talented and diverse team in the JMU community, and together there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Please attend the inauguration March 15

I hope you can join us at the inauguration on Friday and help celebrate the people and the future of James Madison University. It will mean so much to me and to all of us to have you present.

(Note: the inauguration will be webcast on

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