Carrier Award winner, a kindred and entrepreneurial spirit

John Rothenberger ('88) receives honor

by Mary Evans

Alumni Winners and Alger

SUMMARY: Many alumni were honored at the 2017 Alumni Awards, especially John Rothenberger, who won the Carrier Distinguished Alumni Award and Joseph Damico, who won the Roop Service Award.

Each of JMU's seven academic colleges recognized a distinguished alumni recipient at the Alumni Awards banquet on Friday, March 17. The Carrier Award was chosen from a pool of outstanding alumni receiving college awards. Rothenberger, a 1988 graduate, is the 36th alum in the JMU's history to receive the Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. Joseph Damico('76,'77M) was recognized for his many years of service to the university with the Inez Graybeal Roop ('35) Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

“John has a passion for learning and for entrepreneurship and JMU has the opportunity to blend both of those together. His consistency and his love for students and for faculty and for learning blossomed into so many opportunities” – Carol Hamilton, College of Business Professor

With a passion for entrepreneurship and innovative thinking, Rothenberger grew multiple businesses and instilled a passion at JMU for entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines with his many years of involvement at his alma mater. He began his first startup at 26, and founded his current company 18 years ago. Along with business success, he has been a devoted alum of JMU as he co-created and co-taught the senior level “Venture Creation” class within the College of Business. 

“John and Ron Carrier are alike… Carrier was very entrepreneurial when he came to Madison College those many years ago and what he did for the university...that is the same spirit that is in John.”

–Dr. Jerry Benson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

He has served on the Board of Visitors, chaired the Center for Entrepreneurship and was the first Entrepreneur in Residence. His commitment to permeating entrepreneurial thinking to all aspects of JMU has positively impacted the awareness of classroom environment to foster innovation, creativity, collaboration and innovation in all departments.

Roop Distinguished Alumni Service Award

damicoJoseph Damico won the Inez Graybeal Roop ('35) Distinguished Alumni Service Award. He served on the Board of Visitors from 2003-2011, and fulfilled the role of rector from 2006-2008.  He led the search committee after President Rose announced his retirement. Damico and his wife, Pamela, contributed as philanthropic leaders as well. They established the first chair, the Jackson E. Ramsey Eminent Scholars Centennial Chair, in the College of Business with a $1M gift within the Centennial Campaign. Overall he has given his time and service to the university with skill and reliable leadership.

“Whether it is the pursuit of the perfect putter...or it's the university receiving a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, whether it's our graduation rate being the highest in the country for its type of institution, Joe is all about excellence. Joe is all about improvement. Joe is all about making things better. That is Joe’s story.”

– Dr. Linwood Rose, President Emeritus

All of the recipients of the alumni awards have excelled in their field and have represented what it means to be a JMU Alum. To stay connected to the JMU community visit

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Published: Monday, March 20, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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