Cover Photo Image

In line with JMU’s vision to be a national model for civic engagement, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement and the Office of the President will provide JMU students and their families with an opportunity to engage at James Madison’s Montpelier on Saturday, October 12 during Family Weekend 2019. As the university named for the “Father of the Constitution,” JMU students and their families have a special obligation to know something about the Constitution and our namesake because, as philanthropist David Rubenstein noted in a speech on Constitution Day 2018 at JMU, “people who are more knowledgeable about our government, more knowledgeable about our Constitution, will be better citizens, vote more intelligently and be more engaged in our country.”

The Madison Center will prepare background information on James Madison, his life and legacy, as well as the history of James Madison University to be shared with participants on the bus ride to Montpelier. At Montpelier, JMU students and their families will join a guided tour and have the opportunity to explore the exhibits and grounds. Following the tour, we will have a lunch and discussion with a Madison scholar and/or with a member of Montpelier’s enslaved descendants’ community. On the return bus ride to JMU, we will facilitate a discussion about Madison’s contributions to American democracy, social and political life, and prompt participants to consider how they can be more informed and engaged citizens.

RSVP required (click here or see form below). Questions? Contact: Dr. Carah Ong Whaley,


8:45 a.m.

Leave JMU from Miller Hall Bus Loop

10:00 a.m.

Arrive Montpelier

10:15 a.m.

Tour of Montpelier and Mere Distinction of Color

1:00 p.m.

Lunch Discussion with Dr. Patrice Grimes, a member of Montpelier's descendant community and a professor at UVA’s Curry School of Education

2:30 p.m.

Depart Montpelier for JMU

4:00 p.m.

Arrive at JMU

Learning Objectives
  1. Develop a better understanding and appreciation for James Madison, his contributions to American democracy and society, and his complex legacy.
  2. Develop a better understanding of the history and connection between James Madison and James Madison University.
  3. Through authentic experience and discussion, develop a better understanding of what it means to be an active, informed citizen dedicated to the common good.
  4. Encourage critical thinking and constructive deliberation regarding how JMU students and their families might address pressing public problems.
RSVP Required


The Madison Center will organize all logistics with Montpelier, provide transportation, and speakers. Cost for parents, including tickets to Montpelier and lunch is $40 per person. Student lunch is $10 per person. Student tickets to Montpelier are free compliments of the Office of the President. To secure your spot please fill out the RSVP form and make a payment via: 

1. online here, noting "Family Weekend 2019" in comments; or

2. send a check payable to "James Madison Center for Civic Engagement," noting "Family Weekend 2019" in the memo line and mail to The Madison Center, 820 Madison Dr. MSC 7808, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.



Back to Top