Board of Visitors summary of actions and discussions

JMU News

The James Madison University Board of Visitors met Friday, Feb. 16, in the Festival Conference and Student Center. 

The following is a summary of actions taken by the board and key areas of discussion at the board meeting: 

Approved the Sept. 15, 2023, Board of Visitors meeting minutes; and 

Accepted committee reports from Academic Excellence, Advancement and Engagement, Athletics, Audit/Risk and Compliance, Finance and Physical Development, Governance and Student Affairs. 

Kirk Cox, president of Virginia Business Higher Education Council, presented an update from the council; 

Caitlyn Read, assistant vice president for State Government Relations, provided a General Assembly update for the current session; 

Information about the current investment strategy for the JMU Foundation was presented by Warren Coleman, executive director for the JMU Foundation; Barry Purcell, former JMU Foundation board chair; and Liza Scott, managing director of Cornerstone Partner; 

Anthony Tongen, vice provost, and Keith Holland, associate vice provost, of Research Economic Development and Innovation presented on the departmental changes and alignment of the research, economic development and innovation departments; and 

The Rector announced the Nominating Committee and the board approved an honorary degree. 

President Alger shared during his President’s Report:

  • Several major university events were held, including: Winter Commencement with JMU alum Jennifer Park Stout from Snap Inc. as the speaker; 2024 MLK Keynote Speaker, Brenda Salter McNeil; a Legislative Reception in Richmond; and the Old School Alumni Black History Month event;
  • The total number of applicants for Fall 2024 is 40,015. This is a 7% increase from 2023, a 16.2% increase from 2022 and a 67.5% increase from 2021. The demographics are: 41% male, 59% female, 46% out-of-state, 22% first generation, 39% underrepresented students, 533 international applicants from 128 countries and from 53 states & US territories (minus South Dakota). The Delayed FAFSA rollout may have a significant impact on the admissions process;
  • JMU was the only Division I school in the nation to qualify for NCAA men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball tournaments, while also earning a football bowl bid. JMU Football finished 11-2 for the season and participated in its first bowl, the Armed Forces Bowl. JMU hosted ESPN College GameDay with more than 26,000 fans on the Quad, with a special 30th anniversary celebration featuring the Jonas Brothers. Women’s Lacrosse opened its season with a win over No. 3 UNC;
  • The Governor’s Fellows endowment goal was reached. Other civic engagement updates include a visit from JMU alumna and actress Whitney Rice (Jury Duty) and Secretary of Education, Aimee Guidera. JMU will partner with the Library of Congress and Congressman Ben Cline for a Veteran’s History Project later this spring;
  • This fall a civic leadership minor will launch, with collaboration among all eight colleges;
  • SCHEV approved Ed.D., pending a favorable external review;
  • On Jan. 25, the Virginia State Board of Education unanimously recommended full approval of the JMU Lab School for Innovation & Career Exploration. This will be a partnership with JMU, Rockingham County Public Schools and Blue Ridge Community College with an emphasis on career pathways and experiential learning. The Office of the Governor issued a press release announcing this endeavor.
  • Hacking 4 Diplomacy students presented five projects on different topics to the Department of State and they are excited about future partnerships;
  • U.S. News Rankings of JMU’s Online Programs: No. 18 MBA, No. 34 MBA for Veterans, No. 41 Master’s in Computer Information Technology and No. 97 Master’s in Nursing;
  • The four working groups on the AI Task Force have submitted their preliminary reports. Each group developed questions to guide the incorporation of AI at JMU and will now develop answers to questions through collaboration within their groups and with strategic alumni;
  • Updates on Centennial and Valley Scholars include their participation in a study abroad program to the Dominican Republic, 84 students were named to Dean’s and President’s lists for Fall 2023, and more than 1,000 applications for 2024-25 were received (682 for 2023-24);
  • Upon her passing, alumna Col. Frances Weir gifted nearly $6 million to JMU for the Weir Scholarship Endowment, which is the largest cash gift and largest scholarship gift in JMU history. She had an exemplary military career and was the first woman to command a brigade-sized male unit;
  • An economic impact study was conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at JMU and in FY22, JMU invested $363 million in the Harrisonburg Metro area and $488 million in the Commonwealth and generated $22.7 million in local tax revenue. For every faculty and staff job at JMU, an additional job was created in the local economy and 1.25 jobs are created elsewhere in the state; and
  • Leadership updates at JMU include: Bob Chesney from Holy Cross, hired as the next football coach. There is a strong pool of candidates for the athletic director opening with on-campus interviews scheduled for April. The search committee is reviewing applicants for the VP of Enrollment Management.

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Published: Friday, February 16, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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