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Why Madison?

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The Why Madison comment card
Several hundred individuals have answered the question. Have you?

Submissions to "Why Madison?"

Since President Jonathan Alger launched the "Why Madison?" Listening Tour in August, several hundred individuals have answered the question why Madison matters—to them personally, to the world, to the future.

By email, through the "Why Madison?" website, notes, letters, and by "Why Madison?" event comment cards, they have recounted their experiences and submitted insights and ideas about what makes Madison distinct and special and what can be improved.

Following are excerpts from the vast array of input from faculty and staff members, students, parents of students, alumni, donors and friends of the university. Submissions have been shortened to make them more easily digestible for readers and to keep the identities of individuals private. New comments will be added over time, so please check back.

"Why Madison?" is central to the conversation about where we have been as an institution so that we can build on our strengths and dream big as we chart our course for the future. While JMU will not be able to implement all of the ideas generated, President Alger and the Madison Future Commission would like to put all ideas on the table for consideration. All input—whether included here or not—goes to President Alger and into the strategic planning process now being conducted by the Madison Future Commission.

All ideas are welcome. Please keep them coming!

Your Comments

Why: My experience at JMU gave me the confidence and knowledge to take on anything. As an English major, I exited JMU with a liberal arts foundation and critical communication and learning skills that have served me well personally and professionally. This background has allowed me to work in the private sector (commercial real estate and engineering) and now higher education successfully. I am able to interact and engage a wide diversity of audiences. I have the confidence to take on new subject matter easily, and believe the skills of compromise, diplomacy and collaboration that were built from my team projects and volunteer leadership roles at JMU are now put to use daily as I manage multiple teams, navigate the politics and policies of a large academic research university, and persuade donors to provide invaluable support to our core mission.—Alum

Why: Madison matters to me for reasons other than just academics or athletics, etc. My grandmother graduated from Madison; my dad and mom met there, my dad being one of the first fifteen full-time male students. My brother is in the Hall of Fame there and a number of other family members have graduated JMU. Most importantly, my older son is a 2012 graduate and my younger son is in the Class of ’14! I never attended JMU, but I have bled purple and gold for much of my life and will forever be tied to this university. I just ask that the high quality of education, the proud and strong reputation of the university and the commitment to excellence continue. When I wear my JMU sweatshirts and pullovers, people will ask me if I went to JMU. I tell them “no,” but that my sons did, and I beam when I say it!—Parent

Why: When I interviewed at JMU I was so impressed by the commitment to undergraduate research, as well as the commitment to undergraduate teaching excellence, that I was eager to accept the position at JMU when it was offered to me. What a rewarding experience it has been! JMU has been so supportive (such as the CFI), the faculty camaraderie is terrific, and the students charming, respectful and appreciative. JMU is a gem that few have discovered! JMU is a unique treasure, and I hope we develop it to serve as a model for what all undergraduate institutions can hope to emulate.—Faculty

Why: Madison (and it was just Madison when I matriculated) gave me the wings to fly into a career that I love--teaching. The English Department provided me with a sound foundation in content and the Education Department made sure I had the skills needed to teach that content. Life in a dorm gave me true friends who share both the burdens and the blessings of our journeys. Because Madison chose me to be in the class of 1974 42 years ago, I feel my world is enriched and, in turn, I hope I have made the world better for others.—Alumna

Why: From my first day on this campus as a freshman to today in 2012 I have been impressed with and grateful for the warmth and compassion of individuals throughout this academic community. These individuals are linked not by profession or rank but by a caring heart and a determination to be certain that each student, faculty member, staff or administrator feels wanted, valued and connected. Those people were here my freshman year and they are here today. The names and faces may change but their legacy of concern and kindness endures and graces this campus.—Employee, Alumna

Why: Madison matters to me because of its commitment to student engagement.  Student engagement is the key to learning and a further key to learning and student engagement is feedback and communication with the student.  My son's experience in the feedback received from his professors has been very positive. However, one note of concern was expressed recently. He received a lower grade than expected on a General Education mid term. He received no explanation or feedback as to why his exam answers were graded and scored the way they were. Indeed, he never saw the graded mid term and the mid term was never returned to him.  Moreover, the mid term was not graded by the professor teaching the class. It is my opinion that this grading practice is a challenge that should be corrected to provide students with the essential feedback necessary to become better students and citizen participants of society.—Parent

Why: JMU was always my first choice.  I loved every picture in the brochure (the90's) and I just knew that was the best school for me.  I applied and waited then I received the thin letter that said "not accepted".  I cried for days and came up wi plan B.  I spent two years at George Mason and tried again.  My second time around I was more successful and received my acceptance letter.  I was so happy I finally made it to my dream school.  jMU challenged me and taught me you have to work for your dreams.  I still love seeing the campus and running into other duke dogs.  I keep in touch with my roomates even after 15 years. I pray my kids will be able to attend such a great school.  Madison was a big reason for my success.  I will always want to stay connected.—Alum

Why: The minute that I got out of the car at Summer Springboard in 2005, I knew that JMU was it. I could practically inhale the energy. This energy is born from the enthusiasm of the students, the unparalleled beauty of the campus, creativity of the educational programming and innovative tools and opportunities they offer, genius of the professors, diversity of clubs and organizations and the dedication and caring of campus leadership. You as, "Why Madison." I ask, "Why would you choose anywhere else?" —Student

Why: When I was a junior in high school I took tours of college campuses over my spring break, and JMU was my first stop. I woke up the morning of my tour, it was stormy, I felt sick, and I almost decided to skip this stop on my spring break trip, but I decided to stay and that decision changed my life. The people at JMU are just so friendly and inviting after visiting this campus no other campus even came close in comparison. By the end of my tour I felt like this was somewhere I belonged, mainly because of the way the students here felt like a community. When I went home for the summer I forgot that people aren't as nice as they are here, no one was holding doors or smiling or saying hello and it seemed strange to me. So if you asked me "Why Madison?" I guess my answer would be because the people here care about each other and the JMU community is full of amazing people.—Student

Why: JMU is an that institution places a high priority on outstanding undergraduate teaching, and it is imperative that we continue to excel in this way.  Madison also matters to me because we have not been afraid to develop unique interdisciplinary programs and to engage with our community in solving problems.  Let's continue our areas of excellence, while continuing to evolve in ways that will allow us to thrive in the emerging environment for higher education.—Employee

Why: The education of international students makes JMU a more globally engaged university. However, the change doesn't stop there. International students certainly enrich our lives here in many ways, but most will return to their countries bringing with them growth, skills and insights resulting from the JMU experience. This personal growth on the part of international students is bound to have an effect on the nations and cultures to which our students return. So the significant presence of international students at JMU has great potential, worthy of further exploration, to make the world at home and abroad more dynamic, productive, creative, and maybe even more peaceful. JMU matters, in part, because its Study Group partnership supports these potentials.—Employee

Why: JMU has a strong commitment to undergraduate research. That's why I came here and that's the main reason that I stay.—Employee

Why: The traditions, the camaraderie and the extra-curricular programs, combined with the care shown by everyone from professors to dining hall staff, and the intellectual stimulation, made my child's time at JMU the epitome of the college experience. I wish I had it to do over. I'd go to JMU!—Parent

Why: Amazing culture of caring, community and compassion. My daughter spent four years being very active in all aspects of campus life. Now in grad school, she has anew found appreciation for that culture, which is missing in her current school. Madison offers real-life experiences, engages the student and makes them a better citizen. Please continue in the tradition of President Rose.—Parent

Why: Madison matters to me because of THIS PLACE!  The Shenandoah Valley, storied for its beauty and complex mosaic of natural and cultural heritages, offers remarkable learning opportunities for students. False assumptions of provincialism belie the fascinating history and continually evolving story of the region's social, economic, and natural complexity and its connections with global culture and commerce. The history of human communities in this region goes back thousands of years with Native American cultures.  Colonial settlers of English, Scots-Irish, German and Swiss origins came to the Shenandoah Valley in the eighteenth century for religious and economic reasons, and they brought in enslaved Africans. The local economy quickly became connected to the global economy as they exported wheat and beef cattle. The region has continued to be connected to the rest of the world through its economy and through people who come from Central America, the former Soviet Block, Africa and Asia to seek employment, an education, and religious freedom. The Shenandoah Valley provides a rich setting that allows faculty and students from every academic program at the University significant learning opportunities out their back doors.—Employee, Alumnus

Why: I feel that JMU provided an excellent education and preparation for my son to enter the teaching educational field that he wants to pursue. It is my hope that he will continue his education toward a master's (and possibly a doctorate) in this field as I think that there is a real need for teachers who enjoy teaching others and desire excellence in conveying their abilities to encourage as well as educate young people. Thanks to JMU for "affording" my son this opportunity!—Parent

Why: Madison matters to me because it has made the biggest impact on my daughter I've ever seen. My daughter has always been a great student and a caring and conscientious person. Unfortunately, she has been brutally shy. Since being at Madison, she has really opened up and become more outgoing. She has made plenty of new friends. She has no fear of approaching her professors with questions regarding her classes. I envisioned her being away at college, sitting in her room alone, eating alone, possibly failing classes for fear of asking questions, and it has been the opposite. I am so happy she chose Madison. She always tells me "Mom, I love it here."—Parent

Why: JMU is a place where one can find a balance between life and work.  Many faculty at JMU could succeed at R1 institutions, but choose us because here they have a chance of leading a life of balance between work, family, and recreation. And I think students are also better served by faculty members who are whole persons rather than research automatons. I believe that it is getting harder to maintain that balance. I can't point a finger to any one culprit.  Part of the reason is that we keep hiring better and better people who come with their own high expectations. Keeping up with technology imposes its own set of demands.  Taking assessment seriously is another set of demands.  Recently I served on two Academic Program Reviews. It was uncanny how similar the two reviews were. Both departments were accomplishing extraordinary things but were stretched to the hilt and unsure whether they could maintain the current level of effort for the long haul.  I believe these two departments are quite representative of JMU as a whole, performing wonderfully but nearly maxed out. And so, as we continue to strive for excellence in every area, is there a way to do so that doesn't continually increase the demands on everyone, possibly to the point of diminishing returns?  Is there a way to find institutional balance as well?—Employee

Why: Our older son graduated from JMU in May 2012 with a degree in business. He is currently enrolled in JMU's graduate program. Our whole experience with JMU has been nothing but positive. That's why we were slightly disappointed when our younger son was waitlisted there in April and then eventually told there were no spots. I think that siblings of successful JMU students should be given some higher ranking for entrance.—Parent

Why: Once it was just a university close to my home in the Shenandoah Valley, a place to further my education and achieve my goals. As a student, I found it soon became a place I learned about life experiences, built meaningful relationships with those with which I lived and worked, and experienced opportunities to help and serve others. Over two decades later as my own two children attended and graduated from JMU, I saw them experiencing these same types of things.  Although the campus has grown and changed, I would still find the same warm and inviting atmosphere, the same enthusiasm, and the same desire to achieve excellence in all realms. The Madison experience was a life experience for my children as well as for me.  It is a legacy of continued excellence, one in which I can be proud, and that's why Madison matters to me.—Alumnus, Parent

Why: Our family loves the undergraduate focus, all classes taught by professors, 16/1 student-faculty ratio, exceptional freshman orientation, amazing first year experience —very important that freshmen are housed together, excellent roommate matching, wonderful support services, great sense of community, excellent FROG program as part of orientation, solid advising program, robust study-abroad program with a wide variety of locations and lengths of time.  These are all reasons my son is so happy at JMU, and I hope those things will not change! The size of the school is great now—please don't let it get any bigger!—Parent

Why: Madison gave my daughter the opportunity to learn about her place in a global society. Through her activities on campus she was able to continue her love for community service. I would love for JMU to help Safe Rides in a more substantial manner. The education she obtained was above the best! The health center was not available to her. 75% of the time if she was really sick I would have to pay out of pocket for her to go to a local doctor or the emergency room. I am a guidance director at a high school and JMU is one of our students number one picks. I give my full endorsement for JMU as a whole but I do share that the students need to have a healthcare back up plan.—Parent

Why: I do believe that the school could do better with their career counseling outside of the Virginia market. However, there were many positive experiences gained. She enjoyed the large school setting with small classes and professors who care to teach and counsel, opportunities to work, volunteer, start a club, have an internship, and received a quality education in a safe, well-equipped campus, for a very reasonable price. One thing to work on is the housing and transportation issues. As JMU has grown significantly over the last 15 years, not enough effort has been made to build on-campus housing. It is their responsibility to keep students on-campus and safe for at least 2 years and it is not the responsibility of Harrisonburg to police them. While there is plenty of off-campus housing, if there is not adequate parking and restricted car traffic on campus you must increase the number and frequency of the bus runs and they must run late into the night. The late evening runs were curtailed while my daughter was there and she was forced to walk in very unsafe conditions. I speak highly of the school and my daughter's years there but these next 10 years will be a challenge; keep this school affordable. Obviously you are putting your money into hiring professors to teach enough course sections to keep classes small and personal. THAT is worth the tuition in my book.—Parent

Why: My daughter is a freshman majoring in mathematics and quantitative finance. She loves her experiences there thus far.  However, as a parent, let me be critical.  All the "why Madison matters" really don't mean much if the university fails to change its reputation as a drinking (alcohol) school. When your school is named in a top partying list, nothing else matters much until that reputation is changed!  The university must get serious about this if it wishes to strive for academic and institutional respect and prestige.  Get serious about this issue by expelling students who bring disrespect to the institution with their excessive alcohol consumption. Set the bar high.—Parent

Why: My daughter is a freshman and so far she has utilized the tutoring that is available and everyone has been very helpful to her.—Parent

Why: I was an ISAT major and Biology minor at JMU and entered the workforce immediately after graduation for an international biotech company. After getting my MBA from Virginia Tech while working, I came to appreciate my Madison undergraduate experience so much more.  The quality of faculty at JMU is top notch and they value the time they spend in the classroom, which is something I did not experience at the research-focused Virginia Tech. JMU's smaller classroom size is critical to maintaining its quality education. After graduating and entering industry I found that course content is not nearly as important as teaching students how to think critically, which is where many large institutions fail their students.—Alum

Why: I had the opportunity to do several college fairs at high schools in Northern NJ. Feedback was -Very Friendly Atmosphere -Not diverse enough.—Parent

Why: Encourage students to donate money—not huge amounts, but even very small amounts. It adds up and it captures their interest in the University and continuing monetary support.—Anonymous

Why: I am a Double Duke proudly displaying both an undergraduate and graduate degree obtained while at JMU.  Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the gift of tuition waivers for employees. I am very pleased with the education I received and have hopes to utilize my skills for Madison one day. It saddens me to see how talented and intelligent women are left behind while men continue to run things in the status quo. I would love to see more women in leadership roles at Madison. I believe that each of us contributes to the diverseness at Madison. There are many more things that we can do to enhance the Madison experience for each student, faculty and staff member here and provide a better sense of inclusion for all.  I feel that our current diversity program needs a substantial expansion to provide this support to everyone in the Madison community and not just minorities. I would like to see more support for LGBT programs and the Madison Women's Caucus in the future bringing our university up-to-date with national and global diverse initiatives.—Alum, Employee

Why: As I shuttled between the Forbes Center and the other side of campus thinking of all we do on our campus and in the world I had an idea. It's so simple that I'm sure it has probably been used but I don't remember seeing it here.  What if we create some sort of a passport club?  I'm sure we could come up with a plethora of ideas for this that would involve the arts, sports, science, etc.  I see marketing as something like, "JMU.  Your passport to the world of art" or "JMU.  Your passport for the world of science."  The program could be created as a synchronous experience, an asynchronous experience, or something we create as an online only experience to begin.  We could offer it through the public schools to start and bring families into the mix as we progress.  Or, we could do this marketing through local clubs or churches.  The possibilities are pretty wide open.—Employee

Why: I didn't want to be here. Madison wasn't my first choice, but it would be the right one. I found myself at JMU, just as JMU had found me. At Madison, I met people who would support me and depend on me, challenge and accept me. I finished my undergraduate studies in three years and couldn't bear the thought of leaving. I stayed on for a master's degree and, when that was over, took a position as a staff member. I started studying for my doctoral degree here and I will be a Triple Duke. I can barely bring myself to think about what lesser person I would be had I never known this community.  I honestly can't believe how lucky I am to know exactly Why Madison.—Alum, Employee

Why: JMU enjoys its low professor/student ratio. Let's continue with that, and at the same time assess if students are able to get into the requisite courses on schedule or are they having to extend their time at JMU. Even if time isn't extended, but frustration is high, JMU might want to determine ways to alleviate some of the difficulties in course availability.  We value the professor in the classroom. Please stay clear of placing Graduate Assistants in the classroom as the main source of instruction. The high cost of tuition (from my point of view) demands that teaching come from professors.—Alum

Why: As a James Madison University sports fan, I have seen a lot of changes since my enrollment in 1996. Most of the developments have been positive. As you are aware, there has been a desire from fans to move up from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). I am a huge supporter of this move. I have always wanted JMU to compete at the highest level possible. Unfortunately, FCS is not that level. I understand there are challenges to such a move. I have faith that James Madison University and the administration could find ways around those hurdles and make a move. As a fan and a donor to the Duke Club, I do believe the positives outweigh the negatives to move up. I truly believe such a move would create more excitement to be a JMU fan and as such increase donations to both the University and its athletic programs. ODU's donations went up exponentially when they announced their move to Conference USA. I see no reason why the same would not be the case for us. Also it would increase the amount of high level donors in addition to the casual fan, which would also increase revenue. —Alumnus, Donor

Why: I think one of the biggest things I would like to see improved dramatically is the endowment. I never knew how little JMU has in endowment, but I hope in the next several years the endowment will become respectable. How awesome would it be to add a medical school. There is already a partnership with Rockingham Memorial Hospital in training nurses. I would also like to see JMU eventually become a national research university and realize this means that JMU will need to offer more doctoral programs. —Alum, Donor

Why: On the athletics side, I cannot speak loudly enough and I think I can speak for many, especially those within my own family, that we would love to see JMU in a FBS conference. We feel that this will give the perception that JMU is a major university and it will bring in more excitement around the school and the athletics programs itself. I know recently comments were made that JMU would only move if it is to a BCS type conference and frankly, I see that as being short-sighted. I am not sure if JMU will ever be in a top conference as long as they are focused on getting bigger markets and getting more money.  I have donated to the general fund and will continue to do so. I am also a contributor to the Duke Club and would certainly increase my donations if we were in a FBS conference.—Alum, Donor

Why: There are so many positive aspects of Madison, but the one that stands out to all of us is how positive the Madison community is.  In contrast to some Virginia campuses where the student body seems "beaten down" and disconnected from one another, the positive and supportive culture of Madison is palpable when anyone visits the campus. —Alumnus, Parent

Why: I share your concern about the low rate of alumni giving, and have tired of Rollins, Richmond, and other schools outranking us only because our alumni giving is not strong. I want to note that neither of my daughters donate to JMU, despite our urging. I think we need to do a better job of making alumni giving something that we foster as they graduate. Even if my daughters were asked only to set up a small annual automatic donation (e.g. $25 each year automatically deducted from their credit card or checking account) it would have encouraged a routine of regular giving that they could build upon. I'm happy to work with Development to encourage routine giving by all graduates, particularly our recent graduates.—Parent, Alumnus

Why: JMU "gets it." The focus of a university should be on its students. Having taught at major research institutions previously (where most classes are taught by doctoral students and the highest-paid faculty have the fewest student-contact hours), I find JMU's student-oriented programs not only refreshing, but also the way things should be.—Employee

Why: I am a 2008 grad with a music education degree. I teach elementary strings at three schools in Fairfax County. The friends I made in the music department are now my colleagues—a large percentage of FCPS music teachers are JMU alums! Finding my lifelong friends at JMU and now working with them is a dream come true. It seems like all of the children of Fairfax County are being educated by JMU grads, in the music classroom and in other fields. JMU is the reason for the successes of the county schools. What a great gift we are giving to them! The JMU education I received continues in the students I teach. Thank you for coming!—Alum

Why: That's an easy answer: the people. My mentors. Every single professor, or staff member, or housekeeper, or even fellow student who has taken a moment in time to make me feel that I belong here.—Student

Why:  The university created an environment that enabled the students to believe in themselves to the point that one felt that they could achieve anything they set their sights on. I started at Madison College and graduated from James Madison University, which is indicative of the fire the university leadership had to grow the organization. The university that exists in Harrisonburg today is much larger than the one I attended, but is still guided by the same principle that motivates graduates; to leave on a mission to "brighten the lights of Madison" and show the world what a great university this is through the outstanding accomplishments of its' graduates. I can't express how proud I am to bring friends down to the campus for a football game and show them what a beautiful place JMU is and how well the students represent themselves. When I was deciding on a college to attend in High School, I will never forget the description of JMU that one of the students gave when I visited; "It is neither a small school or big school, the academics are challenging but the professors really care, you will see growth for the better during the time you attend, and, most importantly, you will be part of a family atmosphere that will push you to excel.—Alumnus

Why: JMU has a contagiously positive culture that extends beyond the campus. I also realized at the event how great everyone is at public speaking. I think it goes to show how JMU grooms leaders and powerful communicators.—Alum

Why: Reputation. I wanted a degree from Madison because I knew JMU's reputation would get my foot in the door with any employer in the state of Virginia. I want that reputation to spread to our surrounding states. I reside in Maryland and have a high school senior this year. Very few Maryland high school students are considering JMU as an out-of -state option.—Alum

Why: I have attended four universities in total. JMU was the only one where I was given a broad enlightenment regarding the practical application of general education requirements. The faculty at JMU was able to successfully integrate what I was learning to what I was interested in, and eliminate the idea I had previously held that each discipline was unique and divided from each other. I also learned comprehensive research techniques that I was able to apply in graduate school, as well as the professional world, that others coming from other undergraduate institutions were learning for the first time.—Alum

Why: I am a proud alumna and current parent of a senior in Sports Management. I was an out of state student and it was love at first sight. I applied to colleges in five different states, but when I visited Madison, I knew it was my school. My experience never let me down. From day one I knew that students were at the center of the culture. As my son completes his degree, I can see that this has not changed and I can see through this outreach you are doing, that the commitment to students extends to alumni as well. I served as an RA for 3 years and found it to be a very enriching experience, and most likely the reason I am still in higher ed today. I had many wonderful faculty connections and one led to an opportunity to participate in the Semester in London program--no need to say what an incredible experience that was. I have several close collegial relationships with friends and faculty I knew in my student days, some of whom are still there. My college friends are among my closest friends today. James Madison University created a nurturing and challenging foundation for my life. I wish you the very best as you embark on this discovery process and begin to move my beloved university to even higher heights while remaining faithful to the core value of student development.—Alum, Parent

Why: One thing I love about my job is the family atmosphere. We are like a family unit here at JMU. I am the new mother of a precious 2 and a half month old little girl and during my pregnancy did some childcare research and was surprised to see that JMU does not have on campus childcare for their faculty and staff. I am hopeful (as you said to dream big) that one day JMU will have childcare for us.  It makes it difficult to breastfeed like I'd like, when my child is a half hour drive away and not on campus where I can feed her.  I hope that this can be put on the list of needs as I know that other JMU employees have that need.—Employee

Why: My daughter has enjoyed her study at JMU. During her first year, she stayed at the substance free dorm, which she loves and wished that would be available for upperclassmen. I have expressed my support of a substance-free dorm for upperclassmen to different school staff. In fact, I think all dorms should be substance free to provide a better and safer living as well as learning environment. JMU has done a great job in offering a substance-free dorm to freshmen, and I hope JMU would move forward to expand that program. Thank you!—Parent

Why: Your focus on "Dream Big" began many years ago for me at JMU.  I met my wife there, my sister, sister-in-law, son-in-law, significant boyfriend for my third daughter and two daughters have all found and explored dreams at JMU on their way to graduating. Additionally some of my closest friends today are ones I met in my years at JMU. My youngest is continuing that tradition today as a sophomore and with nine close family coming to adulthood at JMU, there is no way to deny the university's incredible influence on our lives. Personally I have served on various Boards at JMU for close to 12 years and each year enjoy the connections more. JMU's focus on the undergraduate experience ensured we all graduated ready to compete to our best in a very competitive world. The dedication of the faculty, staff, and surrounding businesses to the success of the students can't help but make you want to give back.  A lifetime of learning and a lifetime of friends and connections are the gifts JMU gave me. I truly look forward to repaying those gifts each day.—Alum

Why: What we do here as an undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution is more important than what a small liberal arts college does because we serve so many more students. The potential impact of creating thoughtful, contributing citizens is profound, and I hope Madison doesn't ever lose sight of that undergraduate teaching mission.—Employee

Why: I am a new member of the JMU family, as an employee but also as a parent of a freshman. However, I have spent the past two decades as a neighbor to JMU. I truly believe that JMU is THE greatest asset that Harrisonburg and the surrounding communities have to claim, on many levels. From the big picture level all the way down to the intrinsic, intangible level and everything in between. There is not room or time to list the many ways that this community benefits from JMU. The obvious might be, the relatively affluent student body and their fabulous spending habits boosts that the local economy. By the same token, and not so obvious to most people is that the local schools benefit from the increased sales tax revenue. In addition, the collaborative educational programs are mutually beneficial to the schools, and the students participating. The incredible care and keeping of any and all JMU properties makes this city shine. The pure energy and enthusiasm of the students, faculty and staff is palpable and infectious to anyone that comes in contact.—Parent, Employee

Why: JMU is a university with heart and conscience. What makes it work so well is that administration, faculty, and staff have big hearts but few have big egos. It is the relative lack of ego that makes us mesh so well and accounts for the tendency to say "yes" to innovative ideas.—Employee