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Our History

The Centennial Scholars Program was founded in 2004 by Dr. Linwood Rose who served as the university's president from 1998 to 2012. President Rose sought to increase access to higher education for low-income, first-generation college students from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The program was named for the significance of its first graduating class who would obtain their degree in 2008: the 100th year since JMU's founding in 1908. As of May 2023, over 750 students have graduated from the university as Centennial Scholars.

Our Mission & Vision


The Centennial Scholars Program (CSP) is committed to increasing access to higher education for talented first-generation Pell grant-eligible students from the Commonwealth of Virginia. We provide academic resources, connect students to campus programs, facilitate a successful transition to college, and support students’ success while they earn a college degree.


To recruit and retain highly motivated scholars representing diverse experiences and communities from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Earning a college degree can alter the trajectory for an individual, family, and community. We seek to build a community dedicated to personal and professional success by empowering students to achieve their educational goals.

Our Core Values

Academic Success

Achievement and attainment of educational goals to provide growth, opportunities, and empowerment for the future.

Community Service and Engagement

Collaboration with community partners to increase perspective, empathy, and a sense of civic engagement by investing in the community that has invested in our students.

Student Centered

Our programs and practices are informed by research-based theories and models of student development. Every student has unique educational goals, needs and challenges. The program works to meet individual student needs and consider student input and feedback.


Creation of an inclusive space that promotes respect, authentic student voices, and access to opportunities for all individuals regardless of their background or lived experience.


Promotion of consistent ethical decision-making, holding oneself accountable, and encouraging these attributes in others by fostering trust and building strong relationships. 


All students are valued, supported, and accepted in the Centennial Scholars’ community and the campus learning environment.

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