"Why Madison?" Richmond
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va.
Intergenerational connections came alive in Richmond
I think our "Why Madison?" listening tour event tonight has been a wonderful coming together to reflect on our institution. We heard so many stories tonight in Richmond about how JMU has affected so many people's lives. For example, William Dingledine, a family name everybody knows at James Madison University, shared how generations of Dingledines made a difference on campus.
Family stories brought tears to people's eyes
A former rector, Sandy Berry, talked about how much it meant to have so many family members who have been here at JMU, and the generations who have been affected by James Madison University. That family connection was a real theme tonight. It literally brought tears to people's eyes. The sharing here at the "Why Madison?" Richmond reception was incredible. Intergenerational connections came alive tonight. I wish I could bring everyone home with me. There is so much energy, so much passion for the university — and I think passion is really what I felt from around the room.
People here are excited about the future of JMU
It's great to see here in the capital area of the commonwealth that we have so many alumni, parents and friends who want to support the university — people who wish the university well, who are excited about its future, who would come to an event like this to share those hopes and dreams. It was very palpable. You could feel that energy and excitement.
Alumni suggested meaningful ways to reach out
We talked some tonight about how people choose to support the university — with their time and their talents and their financial gifts as well. We had some very constructive suggestions about different ways to approach different types of givers. People are at different stages of their lives, and how do we approach them in a way that works and will connect with all of our alumni and all of our supporters? We want to continue to gather these constructive ideas. We want to know how we can engage people in ways that are meaningful to them. That's what I think they were sharing tonight — what would work for them and what would make sense for them and their peers. We want all of our alumni, parents and supporters to be ambassadors to their peers because that's how we're going to be successful.
Studying abroad changes lives
A lot of hands went up when I asked how many people studied abroad. That's an experience that, as we heard tonight, changes people's lives. At James Madison University it's one of our great strengths. We have a lot of opportunities for students to be engaged around the world. It prepares them to compete in that global economy and to be citizens in a democratic society, where you have to be thinking globally all the time. We hope all of our students will take advantage of the opportunities to study abroad. These are stories we want to continue to share with our current students and prospective students.
"Why Madison?" stops next in Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia
Just like tonight in Richmond, our next "Why Madison?" listening tour stops — for President's Council members in Virginia Beach tomorrow and later for alumni, parents and friends in Northern Virginia — will be a great opportunity for alumni and parents and supporters to meet other people who care about the university, to connect or reconnect, to make new friends and catch up with old friends.
Now is a great moment for our university to reflect
Now is a great moment for our university community to come together and to reflect together on what this institution has meant to all of us. I think these "Why Madison?" receptions are a really exciting opportunity for everybody to participate, to connect and talk about how we can continue to connect with one another as we go forward.
There's no limit to what we can do together
It's amazing — our reception here in Richmond ended 30 minutes ago and people are still here. I wish that we could be here all night. It's the kind of event where you just don't want it to end because people care so much about the institution they want to share their stories with one another and with us. I want to continue to hear people's stories in a personal way because I believe our people are our greatest resource — both our faculty, staff and students on campus and our alumni, our parents and other supporters off campus. They are the greatest resource we have. If we can harness that energy, that intelligence and that enthusiasm then there's no limit to what we can do together.