JMU's Centennial Commencement Celebrates the Future, Honors the Past


HARRISONBURG - By the end of James Madison University's commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 3, 2008, more than 100,000 people will hold degrees from the 100 year old institution. 

In honor of the milestone, graduates will don purple academic regalia in a nod to the school colors of purple and gold. 

Students graduate as a group at the main ceremony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. in Bridgeforth Stadium, and are recognized individually at college ceremonies. Those exercises begin at 11:30 a.m. at various campus locations. For information about sites for college ceremonies, check

Approximately 2,696 undergraduate students and 450 graduate and doctoral students will have their degrees conferred during the day's exercises. Another 270 undergraduate and 38 graduate students will participate in the ceremony but will officially graduate in August. The diplomas each 2008 graduate receives feature a gold embossed centennial ribbon printed underneath the university seal. 

Among the newest alumni of the university are 33 undergraduate and seven graduate students who are members of the Centennial Scholars Program. Established in 2004 to enhance student diversity, the program includes a financial aid grant package to cover tuition, fees, room and board. While several transfer and graduate-level "Centennials," as the students are called, have already graduated from JMU, the 33 undergraduate students who are graduating in the May ceremony are the first students to study at the university for a complete four-year term. 

Thomas A. Dingledine, a businessman and entrepreneur whose family's ties to JMU predate the university's founding on March 14, 1908, is the centennial commencement speaker. Dingledine's great-grandfather, William Johnston Dingledine, was a Harrisonburg banker who joined other civic leaders in diligently working to convince the Virginia General Assembly to locate the new State Normal and Industrial School for Women in Harrisonburg. 

Thomas Dingledine's grandparents, Raymond C. Dingledine Sr. and Agness Stribling Dingledine were among the first faculty members at the Normal School. Agness Dingledine, who graduated from the school in 1915, was the first president of the Student Government Association. She later served the school as a sorority house mother and alumnae secretary. 

Dr. Raymond C. Dingledine Jr. - Thomas Dingledine's uncle - was a distinguished history professor and department head at Madison College. He wrote "Madison College, The First Fifty Years, 1908-1958," which he dedicated to "all who have contributed to the building of Madison College of today and to those, in the years to come, who will uphold and add to the rich heritage of the past." 

Thomas Dingledine and his wife, Karyn, are embracing the Dingledine commitment to education through the Thomas and Karyn Dingledine Scholarship Endowment for Achievement in Academics and Service. The gift created JMU's first privately funded, four-year scholarships that are used to recruit high achievement students to JMU. 

The beneficiaries of two other scholarships bearing the Dingledine name are among the May 2008 graduates. The Agness S. Dingledine Memorial Scholarship was established in 1974 by her family and friends and was enhanced by Thomas Dingledine in 1999. The JMU history department awards the Raymond C. Dingledine Jr. Scholarship. The holder of the Raymond C. Dingledine Sr. Scholarship graduated in December 2007. 

Sarah K. Roquemore of Midlothian is the senior speaker for commencement. The JMU Student Government Association coordinates the choice of the annual senior speaker. 

Sixteen JMU graduates also will be commissioned as U.S. Army second lieutenants during a public ceremony at 3 p.m. Saturday. Col. Christopher M. Miller, who was commissioned in 1982 as a distinguished military graduate of JMU, will speak at the commissioning ceremony in the War Memorial Auditorium, Memorial Hall. During his military career, Miller earned the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters and the Presidential Superior Unit Award. He is air assault qualified and is a senior army aviator, qualified in the CH-47, OH-58 and UH-1H aircraft. 

Important Information:

Live Web cast of main commencement program 

Inclement weather policy 
The inclement weather plan for commencement calls for the main ceremony to be canceled only in the event of extreme weather conditions. If university officials authorize use of the plan, announcements would be made no earlier than 6:30 a.m. Saturday and would be distributed via the main JMU Web site ( the main commencement Web site (, the phone-in message line (540-433-5300), short-distance radio 1610 AM and area radio and television stations. If the inclement weather policy is put into effect, the college ceremonies will be moved to indoor locations. 

The JMU-Dingledine Family 
More information about the Dingledine family, including photographs, is available at

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Published: Monday, April 28, 2008

Last Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2020

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