Campaign Update: Your loyal support is inspiring


The following communication was sent to Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University donors on Sept. 29, from Beth ('84) and Jarl ('84) Bliss.

Dear Unleashed Donor,

As you know, colleges and universities across the country are having to make tough decisions in the midst of the pandemic. Our own JMU leaders are facing complex and quickly evolving circumstances as they try to ensure students have the meaningful Madison Experience we all know and love and keep us all safe at the same time. Right now, your giving means more than ever.

On behalf of the steering committee for Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University, we are writing to say thank you for your gift to JMU! It’s so encouraging to know that you have stepped forward to join the 55,000 campaign donors who are giving JMU the chance to emerge from this crisis with the same spirit and vitality we’ve always treasured as Dukes.

We have exciting news: Giving to Unleashed now totals more than $177 million with 21 months remaining to reach the goal of $200 million. The last issue of Madison magazine reported that JMU finished the fiscal year that ended on June 30 at $18.4 million in private gifts, the university’s sixth straight year above the $18 million mark. Prior to the campaign, giving to the university had averaged around $10 million per year. Your loyal support is so exciting.

There are many people who have been directly affected by the health and economic crises. And many JMU families who never thought they’d have trouble paying for school are struggling now. That’s why those of us who were able came together in May to give more than $750,000 during the “Madison For Keeps” emergency scholarship drive. Thus far, 122 students now have the means to continue at JMU even though the average applicant’s need was higher than anticipated. And early this month, our friends Mike (’76, ’77M) and Kathy Thomas (’78) inspired a special Pay It Forward alumni giving week with an additional $125,000 gift to the Dukes Pay It Forward Scholarship program they founded several years ago.

This spirit of generosity is so JMU, so “can do!” No wonder we are standing side-by-side with the nation’s best in outcomes for our graduates. By the way, JMU was just named — once again — the top school in Virginia for graduates to get a job. And Madison continues to be ranked among the nation’s best!

Through our involvement with Women for Madison and the JMU College of Business, it’s clear to us why JMU stands out. It’s our people who make this place special — the people who come to JMU and the people who become the purposeful alumni and engaged professors after they arrive. And those are the people we support with our gifts to Unleashed.

As much as possible we need to continue to help JMU during this difficult time with our gifts and our advocacy. Please let others know that any support for JMU goes a long way, particularly now. Encourage them to do the small things, like getting a JMU license plate (more than $1 million for scholarships has been generated by that program alone). Or have them turn everyday purchases into a way to contribute a little bit to JMU each time they shop.

Thank you again for being a part of the Unleashed campaign. We are inspired by your generosity. Together we’ll help JMU and our students weather this pandemic.

Go Dukes!


Beth ('84) and Jarl ('84) Bliss
Unleashed Campaign Steering Committee

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Published: Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2022

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