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While it is often said that the most enduring tradition at JMU is change, one core principle has steadfastly endured since the very start.

In fact, our conviction that success is equal parts intellect and action can be traced all the way back to this institution’s very first course catalog published in 1909 when we were named The Harrisonburg Normal School. First president Julian Burruss himself wrote the following passage:

“... it is obvious that the work of the normal school can no longer be confined to theory and books, but must seek its material in real things, in nature, in the practical activities of industry and commerce, the business civic and social interests of life. Without depreciating the limitless stores of useful knowledge bound up in printed volumes, it must also draw from the outside world ...”

This is no mere coincidence. Our full lifespan as an institution of higher learning has distinguished itself in this way always. So as we embark on this effort to communicate more clearly and compellingly the uniqueness and superiority of James Madison University guided by this brand guide and the unifying idea of Being the Change, we can do so with the confidence that we are being true to ourselves and honoring our heritage with every expression.

Mission, vision, & values

Brands must connect with organizational mission, vision and values to be authentic and provide utility to the organization. This section provides a reminder of these elements of JMU strategic direction.


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


To be the national model for the engaged university, engaged with ideas and the world. For JMU, engagement means:

  • Engaged Learning: Developing deep, purposeful and reflective learning, while uniting campus and community in the pursuit, creation, application and dissemination of knowledge
  • Civic Engagement: Advancing the legacy of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, by preparing individuals to be active and responsible participants in a representative democracy dedicated to the common good
  • Community Engagement: Fostering mutually beneficial and reciprocal partnerships, ranging from local to global, that connect learning to practice, address critical societal problems and improve quality of life


  • Academic Quality
  • Community
  • Diversity
  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Student Focus
Strategic direction & themes

The Madison Plan was approved by the Board of Visitors in 2014, and outlines the university’s strategic direction through the year 2020. The plan lays out objectives in 10 thematic areas of emphasis.

  • Academic quality
    • Outstanding Programs: We believe in the relevance and importance of the liberal arts and sciences and are committed to maintaining strong student-faculty interaction. Through our distinguished faculty and staff, we offer academically challenging programs, providing an exemplary undergraduate education and distinctive graduate studies while maintaining high accountability for learning through effective assessment.
    • Teaching, Scholarship and Research Excellence: We are a community committed to academic rigor and teaching excellence, combined with the intentional engagement of students and faculty in meaningful research and experiences of other scholarly endeavors.
  • Access, inclusion, & diversity: We promote access, inclusion and diversity for all students, faculty, staff, constituents and programs, believing that these qualities are foundational components of an outstanding education in keeping with our mission.
  • A culture of philanthropy: Our culture of philanthropy is understood, embraced and practiced throughout the JMU community.
  • Engagement: We challenge and support students, faculty and staff through meaningful engagement with the campus, academics, alumni, the community and the world. Engagement enhances their academic, civic, personal and professional learning while reinforcing ethical decision-making and meeting the needs of others through service.
  • Faculty & staff success: We foster for all faculty and staff a culture and environment that supports healthy work-life balance and personal and professional growth.
  • Fiscal & technological resources: We have the financial, technological and technology resources to achieve our goals — developing diversified revenues, building and maintaining useful and attractive facilities and harnessing technology for the most effective accomplishment of our objectives.
  • Innovation: We champion a spirit of innovation.
  • National prominence: Our faculty, staff, students and programs earn national prominence, expanding JMU’s strong reputation.
  • Recreation & athletics: Our university community enjoys a vibrant experience fostered by a wide range of opportunities for state-of-the-art recreation and wellness and outstanding intercollegiate athletics.
  • Student life & success: We support student academic and career success by providing opportunities to apply learning and development, practice good citizenship, foster health and wellness, and live in community.
Communications Council

The JMU Communications Council is an inclusive community of communicators across campus who closely coordinate our efforts and produce consistent work that collectively advances the JMU brand. We are focused on professional development, information-sharing and collaboration, relationship-building and adding value to the public perception of the university. University Marketing and Branding is the conduit for the council and oversees its efficacy, success and impact.

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