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About the University

James Madison University is a public, comprehensive university and is the only university in America named for James Madison. The university places great emphasis on the quality of the undergraduate student experience in its bachelor's level programs and offers a complementary array of distinguished master's, educational specialist and doctoral programs aimed at meeting specific state and national needs. JMU provides a total education to students – one that has a broad range of the liberal arts as its foundation and encompasses an extensive variety of professional and pre-professional programs, augmented by a multitude of learning experiences outside the classroom. The value and quality of the JMU experience has been recognized repeatedly in many national publications.

Enhancing quality in student learning is a priority for JMU. A national study found that 81 percent of employers want colleges to place more emphasis on "critical thinking and analytic reasoning" and 75 percent want more emphasis on "ethical decision making" (Raising the Bar: Employers' Views on College Learning in the Wake of the Economic Downturn, AAC&U and Hart Research Associates (2010)). In 2013, JMU launched a major university-wide effort called The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action with the purpose of teaching ethical reasoning skills to every student at the university.

First year students are introduced to the Madison Collaborative during orientation, and exposure continues through campus programming, the General Education curriculum and courses in majors. It teaches students how to apply a set of reasoning skills to evaluate implications of different courses of action in their personal, professional and civic lives. The Madison Collaborative ties directly to the university's mission of "preparing educated and enlightened citizens."

Mission Statement

We are a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.


Since its establishment in 1908, James Madison University has grown from a small state normal and industrial school for women to today's coeducational comprehensive university with a fall 2014 enrollment of 20,855 students.

The university was founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, with Julian Ashby Burruss as its first president. The school opened its doors to its first student body in 1909 with an enrollment of 209 students and a faculty of 15. Its first 20 graduates received diplomas in 1911. In 1914, the name of the school was changed to the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg. The school received authorization to award bachelor's degrees in 1916. During this initial period of development, Burruss' administration established the campus plan and constructed six buildings.

After Burruss resigned in 1919, Dr. Samuel Page Duke became the second president. Duke's administration erected nine major buildings.

In 1924, the university became the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg and continued under that name until 1938, when it was named Madison College in honor of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States. In 1946, the Duke administration admitted men as regular day students.

Following the retirement of Duke, Dr. G. Tyler Miller became the third president of the university in 1949 and remained until 1970. Miller's administration enlarged the campus by 240 acres and constructed 19 buildings. The administration also revamped the curriculum. In 1954, the expanding school received authority to grant master's degrees. The university became a coeducational institution in 1966. Dr. Ronald E. Carrier became JMU's fourth president in 1971. His administration changed Madison College into a university. In 1977, the university adopted its current name, James Madison University. The Carrier administration nearly tripled the number of students and university faculty members and constructed some 30 major campus buildings. Doctoral degrees were authorized in 1994.

Dr. Linwood H. Rose was named JMU's fifth president in September 1998. Under his leadership, JMU was continually recognized in national publications as one of the nation's finest institutions of its type. More than 20 new academic programs were implemented, 25 major buildings were constructed, a Phi Beta Kappa chapter was installed and the university successfully completed its first capital campaign. Before being named president, Rose had served as a member of the institution's administration for 23 years.

Mr. Jonathan R. Alger became JMU's sixth president in July 2012. Before coming to JMU, Mr. Alger served as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Rutgers University. In his first year in office, Mr. Alger embarked on an extensive listening tour with constituencies on and off campus to discuss the university's future as an institution fully engaged with ideas and the world. He also appointed the Madison Future Commission to help craft a comprehensive strategic plan for the next chapter of the university's history.


The general responsibility for the administration of the university has been assigned to the president, who is appointed by the JMU Board of Visitors. When the board is in recess, its executive committee may exercise the power of the board.

Assisting the president in the administration of the university are the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, the senior vice president for administration and finance,
the senior vice president for student affairs and university planning, the vice president for access and enrollment management, the vice president for university advancement, the executive director for campus and community programs for access and inclusion, university counsel, and the executive assistant to the president.

Appointment to these positions and to the university's instructional and administrative faculty is made by the JMU Board of Visitors upon the recommendation of the president. 

James Madison University Administration

Board of Visitors

Ms. Vanessa M. Evans-Grevious (Rector), Charlottesville, VA 

Mr. Michael B. Battle, Clarksville, MD

The Honorable William T. Bolling, Mechanicsville, VA

Mr. Warren K. Coleman, (Vice Rector), Richmond, VA

Mr. Jeffrey E. Grass, Arlington, VA

Mr. Matthew A. Gray, Richmond, VA

Ms. Maribeth D. Herod, Herndon, VA

Ms. Lucy Hutchinson, Falls Church, VA

Ms. Maria D. Jankowski, Richmond, VA

Ms. Deborah T. Johnson, Woodbridge, VA

Ms. Lara P. Major, Purcellville, VA

Mr. Edward Rice, Vienna, VA

Mr. John C. Rothenberger, Great Falls, VA

Mr. Michael M. Thomas, Reston, VA

Mr. Craig B. Welburn, Manassas, VA

Ms. Adaoma Okafor (student member), Hampton, VA

Ms. Donna L. Harper (Secretary), JMU/Harrisonburg, VA

Chief Administrative Officers


Jonathan R. Alger, J.D.

Senior Leadership Team

A. Jerry Benson, Ph.D.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Art T. Dean II, M.Ed.

Executive Director for Campus and Community Programs for Access and Inclusion

Maggie Burkhart Evans, M.A.

Executive Assistant to the President

Donna L. Harper, Ed.S.

Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management

Charles W. King Jr., M.A.

Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance

Nick L. Langridge, Ph.D.

Vice President for University Advancement

Mark J. Warner, Ed.D.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and University Planning

Susan L. Wheeler, J.D.

University Counsel/Assistant Attorney General and Special Counsel


Cynthia M. Bauerle, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Science and Mathematics

Jie Chen, Ph.D.

Dean, The Graduate School

Mary A. Gowan, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Business

David K. Jeffrey, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Arts and Letters

Robert A. Kolvoord, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Integrated Science and Engineering

Sharon E. Lovell, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Health and Behavioral Studies

Adam L. Murray, Ed.D.

Dean of Libraries and Educational Technologies

George E. Sparks, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Phillip M. Wishon, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Education


JMU consists of the following colleges and academic administrative units:

  • College of Arts and Letters
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Health and Behavioral Studies
  • College of Integrated Science and Engineering
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • College of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Libraries and Educational Technologies
  • The Graduate School
  • University Studies

JMU Alumni

Office of Alumni Relations
(540) 568-6234

JMU benefits from an active, enthusiastic and supportive alumni association. With more than 125,000 graduates, the JMU Alumni Association strives to develop a continuing interest in the university by providing opportunities for service, fellowship, networking and loyalty for JMU alumni. The association provides scholarship opportunities for incoming JMU freshmen as well as currently enrolled students. Alumni chapters across the country sponsor socials, programs, community service and various events to engage alumni in their area. The alumni association also hosts annual programming on campus, including homecoming, reunions and an annual alumni volunteer conference.

The JMU Alumni Association is directed by a board of directors who represent the interests of all graduates by reviewing and setting the strategy for the association. JMU's magazine, Madison, provides information about the university to all alumni, parents of currently enrolled students, friends and businesses, corporations, and foundations associated with JMU. The e-newsletter, Madison Update, is a popular way for alumni to stay informed about alumni and campus activities.

The student branch of the association, the Student Alumni Association (SAA), is an active group that creates opportunities for students to interact with alumni to form meaningful, lasting relationships long after graduation. This organization also encourages and promotes a philanthropic spirit on campus that helps to advance the mission and development of JMU. The SAA offers a wide variety of events such as networking dinners, career development, events during Homecoming and other events throughout the year. Find out more at

JMU Foundation

The James Madison University Foundation, Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization was established in 1969 to promote the welfare, efficiency, service to and the objectives of the public and James Madison University, and to encourage private gifts of money, securities, land, or other property of whatever character for such purposes, and to that end to take, hold, receive, and enjoy any gift, grant, devise or bequest, for the benefit of James Madison University in the manner designated, for the general purposes and improvement of James Madison University, and to accept, execute and administer any trust in which it may have an interest under the terms of the instrument creating the trust. Gifts received by the foundation are used to support the university in many ways, such as: construction of buildings, endowed chairs for distinguished faculty members, purchase of library resources, purchase of specialized equipment for university classrooms and laboratories, renovation and additions to existing facilities, scholarships for students, special academic opportunities for students and special academic programs.