A look toward the future

JMU News

Dear JMU Students and Families,

I hope that this message finds you and your loved ones well. We know that everyone is feeling the burdens of this challenging time, and as a JMU community we can and will continue to do everything we can to support and encourage one another.

As this unprecedented academic year begins to draw to a close, it is only natural that we begin to collectively question—now more than ever—what’s next. What we have achieved together in the past several weeks is a most extraordinary feat. None of it has been easy or without bumps in the road, but I’m proud of how everyone has rallied to meet the demands of this historic moment. Moving classes online through the summer, supporting students remotely, and partnering with the greater Harrisonburg community has put the character of this special place on full display.

I write today to assure you that while we are still tending to these present-day realities, we too are looking to the future, and are working diligently to provide answers to your future-focused questions. I would like to share with you an update on these efforts while asking for your patience and support as we continue to operate, plan and adapt in an environment of evolving governmental and public health guidance and unparalleled economic uncertainty.

Fall 2020: Based on what we know today, JMU is planning to resume its on-campus, residential operations in the fall of 2020. Our planning efforts are underway to ensure that upon students’ return to JMU, the university is prepared to be as proactive as possible in protecting our community’s health. A task force, including leadership from the University Health Center as well as representation from across all divisions, is working to address questions about what living, learning, and dining arrangements on campus may look like should public health guidance necessitate ongoing social distancing or other measures. We are of course evaluating all available information and contingencies and will continue to communicate with colleagues across the state and nation as we prepare for the next academic year.

Capturing what’s worked: An appointed group of individuals from across campus have begun work to identify the innovations and best practices born out of the university’s experience responding to the pandemic. The group will identify ways to apply these learnings for everyone’s benefit going forward, making sure that we come out of this situation as a stronger and more advanced institution.

CARES Act relief funds: JMU has convened a working group to review the federal legislation and guidance to determine the protocol for distribution of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act relief funds. We have submitted the application to access these funds to the U.S. Department of Education. JMU administration will provide information to all students and parents, through email and the JMU website, once decisions have been made regarding distribution of funds.

Seeking your input: In the coming weeks, students, parents and faculty will receive an email with a link to a survey aimed at helping us better understand how well you think the university has responded to the aspects of the pandemic within our control and which services and communications you have found or would find helpful. Please be on the lookout for that communication. We appreciate your insights and input.

Tuition and budget for 2020-21: Ordinarily by late April, Virginia lawmakers have solidified the state budget and our Board of Visitors has set tuition and the university’s budget for the upcoming academic year. However, immense economic instability as the result of the pandemic has required lawmakers to reassess state resource allocations, a process that could take several months. Amidst this uncertainty, the board will meet to set tuition and fees on May 15.

As we strive to make prudent decisions in uncertain times, we are thankful for your dedication and ongoing commitment to JMU. Our decision-making processes will remain guided by our dedication to protecting health and safety, providing exemplary learning experiences and maintaining community, regardless of how far apart we may be at the moment.

With warm regards,

Jonathan Alger

President, James Madison University

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Published: Monday, April 27, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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