Supporting the Gordon Scholarship for top freshmen will help the physics department become the premier undergraduate program in the nation.

It’s already respected as one of the largest and best — for the quality of its academics and for its vast and deeply engaged program of physics outreach and education for K-12.

The Gordon Scholarship honors the physics department head largely responsible for building and shaping that reputation. “Bob Gordon was hired as department head at JMU when Kennedy was president,” says current department head Steve Whisnant. “He hired so many of the faculty members who have taught our alumni. He continued to teach after retiring. He touched the lives of hundreds of Madison physics students and thousands of other JMU students. Last year was his 50th year on the job. Bob was always interested in growing the department, and the way to do that is to bring in outstanding freshmen to major in physics here.”

That’s what retired physics professor Raymond A. Serway and physics alumnus and entrepreneur Walter M. Curt (’85) had in mind when they established the scholarship.

Your gift to grow the Gordon Physics Scholarship will help attract outstanding freshmen with a demonstrated aptitude in mathematics who plan to major in physics.

“Each year we invite prospective freshmen to sit for a physics exam,” says department head Steve Whisnant. “The exam identifies the top performers we hope to attract to JMU with scholarships. Physics is exciting and rewarding, but it's demanding. These are the students most likely to thrive and graduate and honor Bob Gordon’s legacy."

Once on board, these students will study with Gordon’s world-class colleagues in the physics department. They will participate in research in materials science, nuclear/particle physics, soft condensed matter, and astronomy and astrophysics and present their findings at national professional conferences. Your gift will also give those students access to sophisticated instrumentation usually reserved for graduate students at most universities. Not least, these students will also have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in one of the most extraordinary physics outreach programs in the nation. Read more here. And they will get the strong liberal arts foundation that will provide societal context for the decisions they will be making as future science leaders.

“Growing the endowment will elevate the entire JMU physics program,” Whisnant explains. “Gordon Scholarship recipients will go on to lead successful careers in physics addressing issues for the betterment of all of society.”

Together, by combining our vision and talents, we can give students the early start that qualifies them ahead of the research curve to enter graduate school, research labs, the teaching profession, the workforce or anywhere else they seek to go to boost America's culture of innovation and discovery.

That’s how the national model of the Engaged University operates. Your gift makes it possible.

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