Campaign Update: You bring hope to today’s JMU students


The following communication was sent to Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University donors on May 2, from Richard Grevious, JMU Class of '92, and Vanessa Evans-Grevious, JMU Class of '93.

Dear Unleashed Donor,

We would like to add our thanks to those who have written to you previously. As a donor to Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University, you are an important part of the Madison family. And during this time of uncertainty in just about every aspect of our lives, it is comforting to know that generous people like you continue to care about JMU students and their successes.

As the health and financial toll of the COVID-19 pandemic mounts, we hope that you and your loved ones are well. If you’re like us, our new normal is a dramatic shift from what we were experiencing just a few short months ago. Our social and professional lives have pivoted to new routines, and sometimes a word of encouragement to others in our JMU and personal communities can make all the difference in the world.

We couldn’t help but think of that as we watched the video from Heather Coltman and Tim Miller yesterday. Their encouragement of JMU’s faculty and students no doubt means a great deal as next week’s final exams complete the most unusual semester ever at Madison.

It’s also great to see that the Class of 2020 will be recognized at a virtual conferring of degrees on May 8 and still have a chance for an in-person commencement in early August. We wish these graduates well as they enter a world that will need their ideas and leadership!

Though we know that JMU will do everything possible to re-open as usual for on-campus classes this fall, many students are wondering how they can afford to return. Their families have faced job loss, reduced income, illness or worse during the pandemic — and they are in a financial crisis.

The federal CARES act, which will benefit both JMU and students, will help. But the CARES act can help only a limited number of students with recouping some expenses directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. There will still be a significant gap that remains as it provides no funds for financial aid going forward, meaning no help with tuition for students who cannot return this fall without such assistance. For many of these students, donors like us may be their only hope to stay at JMU.

Fellow Dukes, we’ve done this before. During the Great Recession, many of us — over 3,800 of us — gave to a program called Madison for Keeps, and together we kept 107 JMU students in school. This time, it looks like the need is going to be much greater. And already many of us are springing to action.

As we write this, more than 600 people have contributed to JMU’s COVID-19 emergency funds. And inspired by a challenge gift from Cheryl ('77) and Randy Byrnes and their family, an additional group of concerned donors is helping JMU prepare for a major announcement on Monday. This new effort definitely gives the name of our current campaign new meaning: compassion unleashed, cooperation unleashed, community unleashed as we help Dukes stay Dukes!

Stay tuned for more about this effort. For some, making a gift now is understandably hard, given current financial challenges. But for those of us who can manage it and who are inspired to help, there has never been a more meaningful time to make a difference for our students.

We thank you in advance and wish you continued health and wellness.

With warm regards,

Vanessa M. Evans-Grevious (’93, ’97M)
Richard L. Grevious (’92)
Unleashed Campaign Steering Committee

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Published: Saturday, May 2, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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