Damicos establish chair for exceptional education


SUMMARY: Damicos give $1 million to support the faculty in the College of Education who prepare graduates who will educate children with special needs.

Joseph (’76, ’77M) and Pamela Craun (’77) Damico of Libertyville, Ill., have announced a $1 million gift from the Damico Family Foundation to endow a faculty chair for Exceptional Education in the JMU College of Education. Their gift is one of three unveiled Friday, Oct. 26, as part of the public launch of Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University.

Faculty support is a priority of the university’s $200 million comprehensive campaign, which calls for doubling the number of faculty members holding fellowships, chairs and professorships in order to recruit, retain and recognize outstanding JMU professors.

Pam Damico made the $1 million gift announcement via video at the dinner celebrating the public launch of JMU’s Unleashed campaign.

“It is our hope that showing our support for the faculty is a vote of confidence in their abilities, but even more so in their mission — their calling,” she said. “To us nothing is more important.”

The Damicos’ gift supports the College of Education faculty in her field of study at JMU, exceptional education.

“Pam and I know just how critical it is to the future of our society that a great school like JMU turns out top teachers who go out into schools everywhere and inspire their students every day,” said her husband, Joe. “This is no easy feat. To do so requires brilliant and dedicated faculty.”

“All of our faculty members who aspire to make a difference in the lives of exceptional children and who dedicate themselves to that cause owe Pam and Joe a great debt,” says College of Education Dean Phil Wishon, “a debt that, in years to come, our faculty and students will repay over and over with each young mind they inspire, and with each young heart they warm.”

The Damicos’ gift will support the College of Education faculty in their continuing efforts to prepare graduates who will educate children with special needs. The Commonwealth of Virginia has recognized special education as as an area of both critical need and critical shortages.

“The Damicos’ generosity not only helps raise awareness of the important place of special education in our state and nation, but it also lays the foundation for JMU to become a national leader in special education,” says Bill White, head of the College of Education’s Department of Educational Foundations and Exceptionalities. “With this gift, we envision better ways of connecting research to practice. We see potential for meaningful, ongoing and deepened connections to our communities and educational partners. We can imagine possibilities that were not conceivable before. This gift makes real what we could only once dream.”

The Damicos have been deeply involved in the life of JMU for decades.

“Their contributions to our community have been invaluable,” says Nick Langridge, vice president for university advancement.

Pam met her husband while both were JMU students. Early on, she worked in the university’s Office of Residence Life.

In addition to being a management graduate of JMU, Joe is a former rector of the JMU Board of Visitors and led the presidential search that in 2012 resulted in the appointment of JMU’s sixth president, Jonathan R. Alger. The Damicos’ first gift also supported the faculty. They established the Jackson E. Ramsey Centennial Chair in Business in honor of Joe’s mentor, Jackson Ramsey.

“Investments like the Damicos’ in the JMU faculty will help sustain the professor-student relationships that have characterized JMU throughout our history,” Langridge says. “These relationships help produce the graduates who, according to a national Gallup poll, possess a greater sense of purpose and personal well-being than those from other top schools.”

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Published: Saturday, October 27, 2018

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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