Madison Family Newsletter: August 2023

Madison Family Newsletter: August 2023

Brought to you by the JMU Office of Parent Relations


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The Madison Family Newsletter is created each month by the Office of Parent Relations in partnership with many members of the JMU community. For more family resources, visit our website.

Dukes First Day Pictures

Let your Duke know about the opportunity to capture their first day of class picture! The Office of Parent Relations will be out on the Quad in front of Wilson Hall on Wednesday, August 23 from 10 AM - 2 PM. Pictures will be available for download after the event at jmu.edu/family.

See Past Dukes First Day Pictures

A Letter from Dr. Tim Miller

Hello from JMU!!!

We are in the middle of the sprint that always happens between the end of Orientation and fall move-in, and we are excited to welcome all of you to campus soon. I want to share a few updates, reminders and advice before your Dukes come to town in a few short weeks. I have enjoyed meeting many of you at recent First-Year Send Off events, and I can’t wait to be in Richmond this week for another event with JMU students and families. There is a lot to say in this last letter before the start of classes, so enjoy my longest letter to date below!


This interactive map was created to help our students find many of the study spaces available on campus. They can also learn more about some of the different spaces to hang out. It’s a good idea for all students to visit these spaces to find the place that works best for them to study, hang out, or just try something new! 

We’re excited to share that JMU VALOR’s resource center will have a new home! It will be found in Taylor Down Under, where it will be accessible 24/7 for all military-connected students, faculty and staff. We have also partnered with the Department of Veteran Services who will now have a staff member in the office regularly to support all JMU and local veterans. This is a great partnership and another example of JMU’s commitment to honor and support those who have served and sacrificed for our country.

We will be partnering with TimelyCare again this year to provide our students with additional mental health services at no charge to them. I’m encouraging all students to set up an account, so it’s there for them if they need it. We received great feedback from students last year who really benefited from this service. Please encourage your student to download the app and register before they return to campus.


Phishing Scam

Your student was sent an email on July 26 warning of some recent phishing/scam emails. Please share this information with them and remind them to never confirm a Duo push that they didn’t initiate. Over 800 students responded to this email and gave up some level of private information or access to their accounts. It’s incredibly important that you help them learn to protect themselves and not fall for these scams when they occur.

Dukes Weekly and the Student Gateway

Another way for students to stay informed is to read Dukes Weekly when it comes out every Monday. That’s one more reason for students to check their JMU email. The JMU Student Gateway page has many of the links both you and they will need on a regular basis. Bookmark this and use it as a first stop whenever you are looking for information about the student experience.

Immunization record

An important reminder for new students is that they must have submitted and have verified the required information about immunizations and complete a TB assessment prior to starting classes. If they have not done this, they need to as soon as possible since it is required by state law. Instructions are in the One Book and on this Incoming Students page. Once this requirement is verified, they will receive an email to their JMU email address as well as a secure message on MyJMUChart confirming that nothing further is needed. This requirement is not complete until they receive that confirmation. Not completing these steps will result in a non-refundable $50 fine and they will not be able to make any changes to their class schedule or enroll in classes for future semesters until this has been completed, so please have your student check for their confirmation. 

Trainings prior to the start of the semester

Also, all new students were sent an email on July 27 with information about these required online trainings, which are due by Aug. 18:

  • Mental Health
  • Sexual Misconduct Prevention
  • Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Belonging

Mama Bear Letters

A topic that has come up a lot more this year that I wanted to address is these so called “Mama Bear letters.” These have received lots of press and in fact there are even websites that say they can provide you with one form or letter that will allow you to have all access to your student’s private information while at JMU. Legally, these are not effective and won’t work at JMU. We believe that the laws involved cannot be universally waived, and a student will have to choose to waive those rights within the context of the situation at hand. I realize some of you have spent time and money on these letters, but I wanted you to know from me that we won’t be able to accept these to waive your student’s privacy rights while they are at JMU.


Weeks of Welcome begins with move-in for all new students. Remind your Duke to download the JMU Be Involved app to stay up to date on all that’s happening! There are many amazing events and opportunities for everyone to engage and get to know each other as part of the JMU community.

Questions to ask your student

How would you like me to communicate with you while you’re at school?

Tip: This is not just for first-year families; things may have changed for returning students too. Take a few minutes to discuss how frequently you will check in with each other and whether it will be through text, face time or a phone call. This will be different for all families and even siblings, so find something that works for you. It is not unreasonable to expect at least a weekly check-in of some sort, and you can all be flexible in the beginning as things are evolving. 

As always, I recommend a once a month zoom call where you can have them show you their progress on Canvas and talk through areas of struggle or concern before it’s too late in the semester to improve.

How are you feeling about going away to JMU in a few weeks? (don’t let them get away with a “fine”)

Tip: Some are more than ready; others may be a little apprehensive. Just let them know you are there for them and support them fully in this next step on their journey. Be assured that there are many people here at JMU who are committed to helping them find their way.

Final Advice

Finally, I had one last set of advice for our newest JMU families before classes begin:

First, enjoy these last few weeks with your Duke at home. It can be a stressful, sad, exciting, hilarious and confusing time for all of you as you prepare for their departure. I want to make a couple suggestions to new families after you drop them off:

Have a plan to do something in the day(s) after you return home from dropping them off at JMU. Life won’t exactly be normal, and I don’t want you all going home and sitting on their bed missing them and their presence in your home every day. Do something fun like a date night, take a yoga class or go for a long walk with everyone who is still in the house. It’s important that you start this next chapter in your life, just as they are starting their new JMU chapter.

Don’t immediately turn their room into a craft room, man cave/she shed, guest room, sibling’s room, storage room, etc. Let them come home to their own room for at least the first year, no matter how hard that younger sibling is asking for the bigger room.

Finally, I want to encourage you to not visit JMU for the first three weeks of the semester, and don’t let them come home those first three weeks. They are building a foundation for a life here at JMU, and they can’t do that if they aren’t here or if you are here with them. You have four years of visits ahead of you, so please give yourself and them at least three weeks to start settling in to both of your new routines and lives. It will be hard, but trust me, it will be good for you, and for them.

Thank you as always for your trust in JMU, and take care of yourselves. See you on campus and around town in two weeks!

Go Dukes!

Dr. Tim Miller
Vice President for Student Affairs

Join Us for Family Weekend Sept 29-Oct 1

Join us for Family Weekend September 29-October 1, 2023. The website continues to be updated with the events for this year.


Returning Dukes Should Test Their Email Immediately!

Submitted by: Greg Hackbarth, Senior Director, Computing Support & John Stevens, Knowledge and Outreach Coordinator, Information Technology

Returning Families, due to a recent change, it is important to ensure that your student can log in to Dukes email! In May, Information Technology migrated all university email accounts into a common Microsoft 365 environment to improve everyone’s ability to communicate and collaborate. The migration did not change student email addresses, but it did change the way students connect to email. To access Dukes email, students must now use their eID password (the same password used for MyMadison). This may be different from the password they used previously - students no longer have a separate password for email!

Students were notified in advance of this change, so if your student has been able to access email since late May, they should be ready for Fall. To be fully prepared, there are two related things your student should also check. First, if your student has Outlook installed on a phone or computer, they may need to remove and then re-add their account in Outlook. Step-by-step instructions can be found in the link provided. Second, students who have installed Microsoft 365 applications on a computer should open one of those applications (such as Microsoft Word) to check for errors. Steps to resolve Microsoft 365 application errors can be found in the Knowledge Base at its.jmu.edu and searching for "Cannot Sign into Office 365 (Tenant Merge)" in the search box.

The IT Help Desk expects a heavier-than-normal call volume when the semester starts, so please ensure your student can connect now to avoid the rush. If students encounter issues, they can reach the IT Help Desk at (540)568-3555 or request help at its.jmu.edu. Full details about the migration and further instructions can be found on the JMU website.

Learn More

Financial Aid Disbursements and Eligible Hours

Submitted by: Brad Barnett, Associate Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management/Financial Aid Director, Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

Fall Financial Aid Disbursements:

Financial aid disbursements generally occur during the first week of each semester if all paperwork has been submitted in a timely fashion and the student is registered for the amount of hours used to determine financial aid eligibility. If you want to learn more about the disbursement process, timeframe, and financial aid refunds, you can read Section 13: Financial Aid, Disbursements, Your Bill, and Refunds of the Financial Aid: Terms and Conditions – Consumer Information document on our website at jmu.edu/financialaid.

Financial Aid Eligible Hours:

The number of financial aid eligible (FA Hours) a student is registered for during the enrollment period plays a major factor in determining eligibility for financial aid. Not being enrolled in the correct number of FA Hours when it’s time to disburse funds will lead to delays, as we cannot disburse financial aid if a student is registered for fewer FA Hours than what was used to develop the financial aid package.

For example, if a student is registered for a total of 12 credit hours in a term and only 9 of them are listed with a Yes” under the “Eligible for Financial Aid” Column in “My Class Schedule” in MyMadison, then for financial aid purposes, the student is considered enrolled in 9 hours. However, the financial aid package was developed based on 12 hours.

You can find more information about this in Section 9: Classes and Program of Study Applicability of the Financial Aid: Terms and Conditions – Consumer Information document on our website.

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Student Account Refunds through BankMobile Disbursements

Submitted by: Brandon Cline-Taskey, Director, University Business Office

Fall semester financial aid will post to student accounts soon. When financial aid overpays the student account, the University Business Office initiates a refund to the student or parent based on the type of financial aid. Most refunds go to the student. Overpayments from Parent PLUS loans are refunded as a check to the parent who took out the loan unless they requested that the refund go to the student when they completed the loan application.

The University Business Office works with BankMobile Disbursements to process all JMU refunds. To ensure that student refunds are available as soon as possible, we strongly encourage students to log into BankMobile’s system to set up direct deposit into an existing bank account. To access BankMobile, the student can go into their Student Center in MyMadison and click on My Refunds.

If a refund is created and the student has not made a selection in BankMobile, BankMobile will email the student multiple times over 21 days asking the student to make a refund selection. If the student still does not make a selection, a check will be mailed to the student’s home address after 21 days. We are seeing an increasing number of student checks lost in the mail, so we strongly suggest setting up direct deposit into an existing account. For more information about making a refund selection, contact the University Business Office at 540-568-6505 or ubo@jmu.edu.

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Students Need to Avoid Email Scams!

Submitted by: John Stevens, Knowledge and Outreach Coordinator, Information Technology

Families, be aware that scammers often try to target your students through email. JMU has seen a wave of these email scams (called “phishing”) in the past several weeks. These scams often try to lure recipients into divulging login information, passwords, or bank account numbers. Sometimes posing as JMU employees or other officials, scammers try to create a sense of urgency through a call to immediate action, such as threatening to delete a recipient’s account unless information is provided through a link within the email. Other scams lure recipients into providing information by offering jobs or other too-good-to-be true financial rewards.

The attached link to a news article contains info recently sent to all students and employees at JMU. It provides important advice to avoid falling victim to a phishing attack and describes some of the phishing messages that JMU has received recently.

If students have questions about the legitimacy of an email, they are strongly encouraged to contact the IT Help Desk at (540)568-3555 or helpdesk@jmu.edu. To report a scam email, students should reference the JMU computing website.

Learn More

Duke Club Kicking Off Full Slate of Fall Events


Submitted by: Kate Burke, Director of Internal Development, Duke Club, Athletics

With the fall seasons quickly approaching, the Duke Club is excited to share a number of fall 2023 events and encourages all JMU fans and Duke Club members to save the date to join in on the fun! Explore JMUDukeClub.com/FallEvents to learn about all Duke Club events, home and away, to start making your plans to get involved and show your support for your Dukes.

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CEVC Name, Events & Programs

Submitted by: Lindsey Richards, Assistant Director, Engagement, Communication, and Innovation

We are so excited to announce that our office has changed our name from Community Service-Learning (CS-L) to the Community Engagement & Volunteer Center (CEVC)! With our new name comes exciting new events and programming, but we are still committed to making campus feel like your student’s home away from home! 

Upcoming CEVC Events & Programs

Our goal with every event or program is to help your students find their people, shift their perspective, ignite their passion, and discover their purpose while contributing to their new community and making a meaningful impact

  • Registration Opens for Alternative Weekend Break for New Dukes: Friday, 8/4
  • Registration Opens for Alternative Fall Break: Friday, 8/4
  • Volunteer Fair & Open House: Friday, 9/8, 11am-1pm, SSC 2200
    • We'll have yummy FREE food
    • Networking with community organizations
    • Giveaways
    • Raffle drawing for a FREE driving Alternative Break (approx. $300 value)!
  • Food Truck Fest with CEVC: Friday, 9/16, 11am-2pm
    • Enjoy local food trucks
    • Live music
    • Shop local vendors
    • Meet other Dukes
    • Learn about our office, programs, and our partner, Open Doors
    • Tickets are $16.09 per person and include admission and transportation (additional funds recommended for food and shopping)

If your student loves volunteering and making an impact in the community, help us spread the word!

For more information, visit jmu.edu/cevc. Events and registrations are listed on our website. If you or your students have questions, please contact us at cevc@jmu.edu or 540-568-6366.

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Virtual Events To Get Students Career-Ready

Submitted by: Tiffany Corbin, Communications Coordinator, University Career Center

The University Career Center is hosting 4 virtual events prior to classes starting to help students get ahead! Be sure to share these impactful, online sessions with your Duke to help get them career ready:

It’s never too early for students to start preparing for their future. In fact, the more prep they do early on in school, the more comfortable and confident they’ll be networking with employers and promoting themselves by the time they’re ready to start job searching!

Don’t forget, Career Fair season is almost here! Check out our fair dates, employers attending, and preparation events on our website.

Learn More

Student Employment

Submitted by: Klaudia WhippleStudent Employment Assistant, Student Employment

JMU JobLink is the best place for your student to find the most-up to-date information about job openings at JMU. Each posting identifies the hiring department and provides a detailed description of job responsibilities, qualifications, hourly rate or pay range and a list of additional documents (i.e., cover letter, resume, etc.) students will need to attach to their application.

The Student Employment office recommends that students searching for an on-campus positions apply for as many jobs as they are interested in and feel qualified to fill. All on-campus positions are competitive so make sure your student has a quality resume, cover letter and references before beginning the application process.

It’s easy to apply! Once your student has identified the position(s) of interest, they must create a profile and complete the Student Application. These are saved for future use and can be edited at any time. Students must submit this application each time they apply for a student employment position at JMU. Selected applicants will complete an interview process with the department. Make sure your student knows how to “dress to impress” with appropriate interview attire and is prepared to make a good impression. The most-qualified candidate will be offered the position by the department. If your student accepts a job offer, the hiring department will need to complete paperwork to meet institutional, state and federal guidelines and ensure prompt payment of wages. Students must provide their hiring department with a copy of their Social Security card and, for direct deposit purposes, a voided check, deposit slip or a bank statement showing the full account and routing numbers.

In addition, federal regulations require JMU to confirm all new employees are eligible to work in the United States through completion of Form I-9. Your student will complete Section 1 of this form with the hiring department or on their own electronically. Section 2 will be completed either with the hiring department or with the Student Employment office. To complete section 2 of the Form I9, your student must provide documentation that both verifies identity and work authorization. You can see a full list of acceptable documents on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. All documents must be original and unexpired. The hiring department or Student Employment must examine the documents your student presents and record the information electronically on Form I-9. Your student is now on their way to gaining priceless experience and a good, old-fashioned paycheck!

For Student Employment questions or concerns, send an email to studentjobs@jmu.edu or call (540) 568-3269.

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Peace Corps Prep Program for Students

Submitted by: Karissa Eckels, Global Learning & Partnerships Coordinator, Center for Global Engagement

Have you ever heard about Peace Corps Prep? JMU is one of just 147 schools in the U.S. to offer this program. The Peace Corps Prep Program is excellent preparation for service in the Peace Corps, and the skills students will acquire through the program can also help them obtain other globally-oriented service or professional roles. The application deadline for students to apply is October 15th, 2023.

If you have any questions about the program, contact us at peacecorpsprep@jmu.edu or call 540.568.4824.

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Student Travel Home: Fall, Thanksgiving & Winter Breaks to NY, NJ & PA

Submitted by: Amy (‘98) & Jason (‘96), CollegeTransit LTD

It’s hard to believe that in a matter of weeks we all must say goodbye to our child as we drop them off on the JMU campus - we are dropping ours off too! Just know that an option exists to bring them back to your arms in October and November. CollegeTransit has been providing JMU students holiday transportation for over 30 years, and our buses for Fall and Thanksgiving breaks are filling up quickly.

For Fall Break we have seats available to Allentown, Morris Plains, Teterboro and Huntington. During Thanksgiving that expands to also include King of Prussia and Howell Township.

If you want one less thing to worry about to bring your student home for their breaks, you can visit our website at CollegeTransit.com to learn more about our student-only service.

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Artificial intelligence and mental health? It's Complicated! 

Submitted by: Kacey Damaty, Assistant Director, Ethical Reasoning in Action

This year, first-year students at JMU will engage the ethical dimensions of a new It's Complicated scenario, AI-Care, as they wrestle with the question: Should a university adopt an artificial intelligence chatbot app to help address the growing demand for student mental health services? 

It’s Complicated Online provides a foundational learning experience to help develop a flexible ethical reasoning strategy – the Eight Key Questions (8KQ) – that everyone can use in their personal, professional and civic lives to make better, more ethical decisions.

Ask your student about the scenario and open the door to a rich discussion about the importance of asking questions before making a decision. Students have until August 18th to complete the It’s Complicated Online one book step. Watch the scenario and learn more about It’s Complicated.

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Video Preview of the Future Carrier Library

Submitted by: Emily Blake, Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Libraries

Get a preview of the future Carrier Library in this new 47-second video about the Carrier Library renovation. For more info, check out our Carrier Renovation and Expansion website.

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Go Inside JMU Residence Halls!


Submitted by: Sydney Wood, Social Media and Marketing Manager, Residence Life

Have you ever wanted to go inside each and every residence hall to explore all your student's options? Has your Duke picked their Residence hall and now you want to look at how to move their furniture? Want to measure a piece of furniture or see if something you found on Amazon is going to fit? YOU CAN! Residence Life now offers you fully interactive and virtual tours of all our residence halls, room types, and even bathrooms!

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Harrisonburg City Traffic Notice

Please be aware that road crews are working to improve a stretch of East Market Street near Interstate 81. The East Market Street work zone stretches from Carlton Street to Linda Lane. For your safety and that of those working, please be aware of the reduced speed limit during bridge improvement work at Exit 247; speed cameras are in place. Virginia Department of Transportation work in this area is expected to continue until 2026. The project will include work zone hours during the day and some evenings throughout the course of the project.

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Help Us Stay Connected with You!

As a JMU parent or guardian, you're an important part of the JMU family! We want to make sure we have your most up-to-date contact information so we can keep in touch with you.

Fill out this form if:

  • You have recently updated your home address, phone number, or email address.
  • You would like to ensure JMU has your correct contact information.

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Join 9,000+ fellow JMU parents and guardians in the official Facebook group! This group was created by the Office of Parent Relations in an effort to provide a safe online environment for parents to engage with one another. Request to join the group here »


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Published: Thursday, August 3, 2023

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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