Madison Family Newsletter: November 2023

Madison Family Newsletter: November 2023

Brought to you by the JMU Office of Family Engagement


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

A Letter from Dr. Tim Miller

Hello JMU families,

In a few weeks your Dukes will be leaving for Thanksgiving break. I hope they are making plans to join you at home or going with friends to be hosted by other families. Jamie and I will be heading to South Carolina for most of the week so we can cheer on the Dukes as they take on Coastal Carolina. We are both looking forward to the trip, and some time with our dog, Duke, on the beach, and a well-deserved break. 


New Spaces

This school year, we have added several spaces where students can hang out, have some privacy and/or study. Students have been asking for these types of spaces, so we have emphasized their needs and provided a peaceful environment for those who need it.

Zen booths were added to the Student Success Center and Warren Hall, which give students a private space for phone calls, virtual appointments, online classes or just a way to shut out the world for a while. There are also larger ones for group meetings or discussions.

We are egg-cited (sorry) about the dozen Egg chairs that have been placed all over campus and the privacy they provide for students. They are great for filtering out some of the noise and activity in our spaces and have been very popular with our students.

We’ve also created new spaces. The Living Room, designed by our Counseling Center practitioners, is a great complement to the Serenity Center in Warren Hall. These two spaces provide different ways to escape from the hustle of the day, and for many of our neurodiverse students, these have been a welcome addition to campus. On East Campus, there is a Student Services space in EnGeo with massage chairs and a second food pantry. We are also finalizing some plans for other great additions in this space as well. 

In addition to these, we have UREC’s Wellness Center, the Counseling Center’s Oasis and Studio and many other student spaces and lounges. Please ask your students to check them out so they may find the right place for themselves when they really need it.

Prepare for the upcoming breaks

Here are the residence hall closing and reopening times:

Thanksgiving Break

  • Close Sunday, Nov. 19 at 10 a.m.
  • Reopen Saturday, Nov. 25 at 10 a.m.

Winter Break

  • Close Saturday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m.
  • Reopen Sunday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m.

You can find the whole school year's openings and closings on the Residence Life website.


How are you feeling about your classes?

Tip: It’s not too late to use the many resources available. The Academic resources listed on the Student Gateway are there for that specific purpose, and all students are encouraged to check them out.

What classes are you planning to take in the Spring semester?

Tip: This is a chance to make sure they are planning this already and have created several schedules with back up plans. This can also be an opportunity to have a zoom call and have them show you what they are planning and also show you that they have no holds on their record. The registration process can sometimes be stressful, but being prepared can make a huge difference.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving break?

Tip: Students often come home, sleep for a long time, and then disappear to hang out with their friends who are also back from break. Finding time for family, friends and family traditions can get tricky. Clear communication about your expectations before they come home can avoid some misunderstandings and lay the groundwork for a happy family holiday together.

Do you know how you’re getting home for both breaks?

Tip: Plan now for Winter break as well as Thanksgiving. No one wants that last minute phone call from their student saying they need you to come to JMU and get them. Make sure they have plans.

Do you have the LiveSafe (DukesSafe) app?

Tip: This app is used as a resource and will give specific instructions in the event of an emergency. You can sign up to receive DukeSafe messages and alerts also. Often, we use this app so students are aware of a certain situation and there is not necessarily a threat. If that’s the case, we may not give a lot of detail as to why that information was sent at that time. It would be great if you can help your students understand it is important to read their emails and DukeSafe messages to stay informed. It’s also important for students to report suspicious situations or things that just don’t seem right as soon as they experience it. 


Native American Heritage Month Events

Hart School Career and Internship Fair
Nov. 8 | 10 a.m.– 1 p.m. | Festival Grand Ballroom

Fall Student Dance Concert
Nov. 9-11 | 8 p.m. | Forbes Center, Earlynn J Miller Dance Theatre 

One Night One Ride One Life
Nov. 15 | 7–8:30 p.m. | Wilson Hall Auditorium

JMU sports events

As always, the JMU event calendar shows many other events that are happening all over campus.

I hope the break is relaxing for you all and that your student returns to campus ready to finish the semester strong. When they return, there will be two weeks of classes and then finals, so they'll be back home before you know it!

Take care and Go Dukes!

Dr. Tim Miller

Vice President for Student Affairs

New Automated Academic Advising System

Submitted by: Andy Perrine, Associate Vice President, Marketing & Branding

After more than two years of thoughtful planning and technical groundwork, we are pleased to begin rolling out MyMadison Connect, part of a new university constituent relationship management (CRM) system aimed at elevating student success by optimizing academic advising. We want parents to be aware of this exciting new addition to campus.

During the week of October 23 phase one of implementation of MyMadison Connect begins with First Year Advisors, the College of Health and Behavioral Studies, Pre-Professional Health Advising and the College of Business. After phase one users acclimate to the new system, phase two will begin rolling out for the rest of campus early next semester.

JMU already is among the best public universities when it comes to student persistence and graduation rates because of the excellent support students receive from faculty, advisors and teams delivering co-curricular programs aimed at helping them to progress, thrive and find their place. But until now, our success hasn’t had the needed technology support. With MyMadison Connect, we will now have a system that equals the quality of our people.

Of course, with any significant systems change in organizations as large as JMU, there always will be challenges. As the rollout reaches your student, please encourage them to fully engage with the system. The more they use MyMadison Connect, the better academic advising they’ll receive.

Learn More

Reasons Financial Aid Awards Can Change

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

When students are awarded financial aid funds in a semester, it’s important to keep in mind that there are situations when financial aid awards can be reduced or canceled. This applies even after funds are received. The majority of these situations will be triggered as a result of action taken by the student, and we’re providing a list of some of the most common reasons this occurs.

• Changing Registration – Financial aid eligibility is based, in part, on the number of “’financial aid eligible” hours a student is taking during that enrollment period. If the registration changes, financial aid can also change. This is especially important to note during the add/drop periods of each term.

• Failure to Begin Classes – Students receiving financial aid must begin attendance in classes for which they were awarded financial aid. If that does not happen, adjustments could be made to financial aid awards.

• Receipt of Additional Aid – If a student receives additional aid that the Financial Aid Office was not aware of when the JMU financial aid package was created, then it might be necessary for some of the awards made through JMU to be reduced or canceled. This is called an “overaward” situation.

• Failing Classes – At the conclusion of a term the Financial Aid Office will evaluate grades for students who received financial aid funds. In some cases, a failed class could lead to a reduction or cancelation of certain financial aid awards.

• Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) – If a student is receiving financial aid under the terms of an Academic Plan associated with a SAP appeal, and if the student does not meet the terms of the plan, aid may be reduced or canceled.

• Repeating Classes – There are limits on how many times a student can receive financial aid for repeating courses. If we discover a student has exceeded those limits, then financial aid awards may change.

While the items above do not represent an all-inclusive list, they do provide information on the most common reasons that cause a financial aid package to be modified. With that said, generally speaking, if students receive a financial aid package and complete all of the classes for which they registered, then the likelihood of the financial aid package changing during the term is significantly reduced.

You can learn much more about the rules associated with financial aid eligibility by reviewing JMU Terms and Conditions for Financial Aid – Consumer Information on our website.

Learn More

2024-25 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Submitted by: Jessica Hopkins, Assistant Director of Compliance, Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is normally available on October 1st; however, the 2024-25 FAFSA will not be available until December 2023 (exact date is unknown at this time). When the FAFSA is released, it will be available at www.studentaid.gov. Beginning in December, please plan to check this website as well as ours (www.jmu.edu/financialaid) for more information.

To ensure you receive priority consideration for all types of financial assistance, the federal government must receive your 2024-25 FAFSA by March 1, 2024. This is JMU’s priority filing date. In some cases, filing later can reduce your chances of receiving certain types of financial aid, including state grants.

Please note that meeting the priority filing date does not guarantee that you will receive university or state grant dollars. The number of eligible students and the size of our annual funding allocations are significant factors in determining whether sufficient funds are available to award all those who qualify.

Submitting a FAFSA comes with no strings attached. The application is free and available online at www.studentaid.gov.

More information about the FAFSA, including videos, can be found on our website at: https://www.jmu.edu/financialaid/apply/index.shtml.

Learn More

The Countdown IS ON for Diggin'Dukes 2023!


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

How much do you dig your Dukes?! Get ready to show your love for your favorite JMU sport programs during Diggin'Dukes 2023 — scheduled for Giving Tuesday, November 28 — the first-ever JMU Athletics-exclusive online giving campaign.

Save the date and start making your plans TODAY to MAKE YOUR IMPACT, and celebrate the depth and breadth of JMU Athletics’ history, and help build our future by making a gift to the Dukes’ team(s) of your choice.

This limited-time giving campaign is special opportunity for the JMU Athletics community to come together to support JMU student-athletes with gifts to individual sport program funds.

Learn more

Winter Commencement Info!

Submitted by: Layne Rexrode, Associate Director, University Events

Families of December Graduates,

Winter Commencement will be held on Saturday, December 16th at 10:00 a.m. in the Atlantic Union Bank Center. This ceremony will include both undergraduate and graduate students. Doors to the arena will open at 8:30 a.m. All seating is general admission, first come first serve.

This is a ticketed event, and graduates should have received an email when ticketing opened on October 16th. Graduates may reserve up to six (6) guest tickets. Ticketing will close on December 4th at 12 noon. The ticketing system used for commencement is the same system used for athletic events.

The Atlantic Union Bank Center provides accessible seating, though there is no need to reserve seats in advance. Seating in the top of sections 102 and 104 will be reserved for guests who are unable to navigate stairs. Additionally, wheelchair seating is provided. To provide adequate seating during the ceremony, we ask that only one guest accompany each guest with limited mobility. The rest of your party may sit in the general admission section. The university does not supply wheelchairs.

To find the answers to commonly asked questions or any details about Commencement, please visit the commencement website. You may also reach out to the Office of University Events at jmugrad@jmu.edu.

Congratulations graduates and Go Dukes!

Learn More

Live On Again! Contracts Moved to Application Process

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

The Office of Residence Life has turned the experience of living on campus into one that many love and want to continue to do; therefore, we experienced an overwhelming number of signed contracts. As of Monday, October 16, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. the Live On Again! housing contract process has moved to an application process. A contract will be offered to those on the waitlist if space becomes available.

Learn More

Student Travel Home: Winter Break to NY, NJ & PA

Submitted by: Amy Sfaelos, President, CollegeTransit

Thank you to everyone who has filled our buses for Fall and Thanksgiving Breaks. By using CollegeTransit during Fall Break alone, you helped save 60 tons of carbon emissions from the roads. For Winter Break as of this submission, there are 10 seats remaining on the bus from campus to Allentown, Morris Plains, Teterboro and Huntington. The bus to King of Prussia and Howell Township has more seats available but will still likely sell out.

Please don’t wait too long to book. Spring Break options will be released on January 1st for registration. Trip details and specific address info can be found on the CollegeTransit website. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. See you all on the Thanksgiving trip!

Learn More

A November to Remember with the Community Engagement & Volunteer Center

Submitted by: Lindsey Richards, Assistant Director, Engagement, Communication and Innovation, Community Engagement & Volunteer Center

There are plenty of chances for your Duke to create lasting memories and serve the community from an Alternative Spring Break to events supporting National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month. Explore the opportunities below and share with your students!


Alternative Spring Break Participant Registration is Open!

Is your Duke passionate about creating change? They can travel with a student-led group of Dukes to work alongside community leaders to address pressing social issues. Make sure your student reserves a spot today before they disappear faster than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner!

Dates: March 9-16, 2024
Cost: $350 for driving breaks, $1,300 for domestic flying breaks, $1,350-$1,975 for international breaks.
Need financial assistance? Need-based scholarships and fundraising opportunities are available! 
Registration Deadline:

  • December 1 for domestic and international flying breaks
  • February 1 for driving breaks

Click here for more information on registration and breaks, or they can visit the Alternative Break page, email us at cevc@jmu.edu or call 540-568-6366.


National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month Service & Cinema

We're teaming up with UPB for a showing of 'Coco' while we make no sew items for our unhoused neighbors.

Date: November 2, 2023
Time: 7-10pm
Location: Festival Ballroom A
They Can Register Here!

Volunteer with Open Doors

November isn't just about giving thanks; it's also the perfect time to lend a helping hand to our neighbors in Harrisonburg. Your Duke can join us during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week as we spread awareness and volunteer with Open Doors.

Date: November 13-16, 2023
Time: 6:15-8:15pm
Location: Open Doors (at Dayton United Methodist Church)
They Can Register Here!

Thanksgiving Meal with Refugee Neighbors

As we gather for Thanksgiving, let's extend a warm welcome to our refugee neighbors. Share with your students so they can join us for a Thanksgiving meal where we can share traditions, create lasting memories, and learn about the refugee resettlement process through our partners at Church World Service.

Date: Sunday, November 12
Time: 1-3pm
Location: Hall of Presidents
They Can Register Here!

For more information, they can visit the CEVC page, email us at cevc@jmu.edu or call 540-568-6366.

Learn More

JMU is a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University

Submitted by: Valerie Kramer, Manager, Alternative Transportation

JMU Alternative Transportation is proud to announce that JMU is now a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University. The League of American Bicyclists recognizes JMU’s achievements in promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus. For more information please see our website.

Learn More

Top 3 FAQs about the Carrier Renovation & Expansion


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

Do you have questions about the Carrier Library renovation and expansion? 

Here are answers to the 3 questions we get the most:

Check out our award-winning Carrier Renovation & Expansion website for news and updates, previews of the new Carrier, new videos, and answers to more FAQs! 

Learn More

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


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Published: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Last Updated: Monday, November 13, 2023

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