Madison Family Newsletter: September 2023

Madison Family Newsletter: September 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.

New Name for the Office of Family Engagement

We are pleased to announce that we are rebranding Parent Relations to the Office of Family Engagement.

We understand that the traditional concept of a family has evolved over time and, by shifting our focus from parent to family, we acknowledge and embrace the unique dynamics and support systems present in each family structure. With this new name, we aim to foster an inclusive environment, where every family member feels welcomed and supported.

The Office of Family Engagement emphasizes our dedication to actively engaging with all caregivers and recognizing the importance of their involvement in our organization. We believe that a strong partnership between families and our office is essential for the holistic development and success of the individuals we serve – the students. The more families we can touch, the greater the opportunity to create a successful academic experience for each Duke.

As the Office of Family Engagement, our mission remains the same – to provide resources, support, and assistance to families in navigating their journey at JMU. Please see our website for these resources, events, and more!

Learn More

A Letter from Dr. Tim Miller

Hello JMU families,

What a great start to the semester! I’ve met so many new students these past two weeks at events like UREC Fest, Dukes First Day pictures, Back to School Bash, Student Org Night, Block Party in the ‘Burg, the ribbon cutting for the new JMU VALOR resource center location and a number of other club meetings and events.

I hope your Dukes are getting adjusted to the new school year, starting to find their rhythm, and making new friends. It is still early so they may not be there yet, and that is okay. We have many resources to help our students find a sense of belonging. Some great ways to start are through Explore Madison, MyMOM and JMU’s Community Engagement and Volunteer Center (CEVC). This is also the time of year when they may be going through selection processes for some organizations, and they may not all get selected. This can be hard, but they will be fine, and they will find other experiences and opportunities that will be right for them. 


As we shared in a recent email, this is the time of year that we start seeing various illnesses. I realize this may be the first time your student has been sick without you around to help take care of them, and it’s tough to not be here with them. A good first step is to encourage your student to check out these self-care resources from the University Health Center (UHC). If you sent them with a first aid kit or medication, you may need to remind them it’s there. If not, the UHC pharmacy has many over-the-counter medicines that can help provide them with some relief. I am actually writing this letter from my home as I am currently dealing with a virus personally and have missed a few days of work this week. 

It is never too early for students to start thinking about their careers after JMU, so I want to encourage them to attend our University Career Fair on Sept. 26 and 27. This is a great way for students to connect and become comfortable with speaking with potential employers, and many of the representatives are JMU graduates who love talking to our current students.  They can also use this as exploration about their possible careers in the future.  


Our students’ mental health is just as important as their physical health, so I want to be sure you’re aware of these resources:

This is a telehealth option that is free for JMU students. It includes 24/7 emergency support, scheduled counseling visits, psychiatry, health coaching, a peer community, and self-care journeys and content. Please encourage your student to download this app and register so they have it if they need it this year. 

Madison Cares
Students, family members or other members of the JMU community can refer or consult with us if they have a concern about a student, and sharing resources doesn’t seem to be enough. The Madison Cares team will reach out and provide support.

If you’re concerned about a student’s immediate safety, please call the JMU Police department at (540) 568-6911 and they can send an officer to do a welfare check.

Questions to ask your student

Last year we heard from some of you that it’s helpful to have some conversation starters for when you talk to your student. Here are some suggestions:

What do you think of your classes this year?

Tip: This is a good time to listen for what they mean but aren’t actually saying. Comments such as "too much reading, the class is boring, doesn’t make sense, they don’t care for their instructor, etc." may be a sign that they’re struggling a little. You can point them to the Academic resources on the Student Gateway – it’s never too soon to reach out for help. A gentle reminder to attend all classes can’t hurt either. This seems obvious, but if there’s no attendance policy, it can be too easy to fall into the habit of skipping classes. Three other pieces of advice are to sit near the front of class, introduce themselves to their faculty, and go to office hours. 

Who have you spent time with this week?

This will give you a sense of things with friends and what potential relationships are forming. It will also provide you with some starting points to help them with making connections across the JMU community.

Upcoming Events

  • CEVC Open House and Volunteer fair – Sept. 8, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in SSC 2200
  • JMU at UVA football watch party – Sept. 9, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in TDU
  • Latinx Heritage Month events
  • Tea Time – Wednesdays, 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Crafternoon – Thursdays, noon – 3 p.m.
  • More events can always be found on the JMU event calendar.

If you’re going to be here for Family Weekend, I hope to see you here on campus. If not, there will plenty of other opportunities to catch up. Thanks as always for your support, and take care!

Go Dukes!

Dr. Tim Miller
Vice President for Student Affairs

Tip: Keep up with important dates and deadlines by bookmarking the Academic Calendar

Financial Aid Disbursements and Starting Classes

Submitted by: Brad Barnett, Associate Vice President/Financial Aid Director, 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.

Beginning Enrollment: It’s important to note that students must begin attendance in the classes for which they receive financial aid. Reading the “Beginning Enrollment” portion of Section 1: How Financial Aid is Awarded at JMU and General Eligibility Requirements of the Financial Aid: Terms and Conditions – Consumer Information document at jmu.edu/financialaid will explain what constitutes “attendance” for the purposes of meeting this eligibility criterion. Students who do not begin attendance in classes for which financial aid is awarded may be subject to a reduction or cancellation to their financial aid package.

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Student Account Update

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

As the school year is now in full swing, the University Business Office would like to remind you to review your student's financial account for any outstanding charges. It is important to monitor your student’s account even if you have already established an installment plan as the installment plan will not automatically adjust to cover unpaid fees.

Failure to monitor your student's account could result in a registration hold and a 3% late fee on any overdue balances. To avoid these penalties, please ensure that you have been granted Authorized User access to your student's financial account and regularly check for any notifications from UBO. For further instructions and information, please visit the UBO website.

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JMU Football at Bridgeforth This Fall!


Submitted by: Melissa Wyant, Assistant AD for Creative Services & Fan Engagement, Athletics

Didn't get tickets for Family Weekend? Don't worry, there are four other chances to see the JMU Football Dukes at Bridgeforth this fall - purchase a single game ticket today!

Not heading back to campus until November 18 to pick up your Duke for Thanksgiving Break? We've got you covered - stick around and join your student for a game when JMU takes on App State.

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Purchase Your Tickets TODAY for Friday Night Flights!
Friday Night Flights.png

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

Join Dukes fans for Friday Night Flights under the lights at Bridgeforth Stadium on Friday, September 29 from 7:00-10:00 p.m.

This premier Duke Club fall season event will include beer and wine tasting from local breweries and wineries across the valley.

Advanced registration is required and tickets are selling fast! Learn more and purchase your tickets TODAY at JMUDukeClub.com/FNF.

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Study Abroad Applications Now Open!

Submitted by: Erin Smith, Study Abroad Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator, Center for Global Engagement

Is your student planning to study abroad? Applications are open now through November 1st! Explore the 70+ short-term programs running this winter break, spring break, and summer, PLUS semester programs running in Spring ’24, Fall ’24 and Spring ’25. 

JMU is offering over 15 new programs this year, including:

Students can drop in and chat with program directors and students who’ve travelled all over the world at the Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday, September 20th; 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm in Festival Grand Ballroom.

Learn More

University Career Fair
University Career Fair 9/26-27, 11-3, Festival Ballroom

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

This career fair is open to all JMU students across all majors and class years, as over 100 employers from multiple industries are coming to campus to recruit JMU talent from all academic programs for different jobs, internships, and career opportunities.

We encourage students to attend the fair for at least 30 minutes and speak to at least 5 organizations so they can gain confidence networking with employers. They may even be offered an interview that day!

When? 9/26 & 9/27 from 11am – 3pm

Where? Festival Ballroom

Students can prepare by:

  • Scheduling an appointment with the University Career Center (UCC) to have their resume reviewed and come up with talking points for interacting with recruiters
  • Coming to a UCC Headshot Session
    • Every Friday in September from 1-2pm at the Skybridge
    • Free professional photos to use on their profiles
  • Attending UCC prep events, like:
    • Success Suits You
      • 9/17 | 3-6pm | Valley Mall
      • Shop discounted business attire from JCPenney, H&M, Claire’s/Icing, and more
    • Clothes, Cookies, & Resumes
      • 9/19 & 9/20 | 1 – 4pm | SSC 3250
      • Get a free headshot; have their resume reviewed; browse our Career Closet of FREE professional clothing, shoes, and accessories; and enjoy light snacks

Is your Duke in the nursing, teaching, hospitality, engineering, or related programs? We also have four major-specific fairs filled with employers looking to hire students in these areas.

Learn More

Housing Contracts: Live On Again! 2024-25

Live On Again 24-25 Housing Contract

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

Live On Again! Contracts become available on October 1, 2023. Your student can sign to have a guaranteed space on campus for 2024-2025!

Learn More

Dukes Making a Difference & Alternative Breaks

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

The Community Engagement & Volunteer Center (CEVC) welcomed 125 incoming students for our second year of Dukes Making a Difference (DMAD) August 16-18. Students quickly got to know one another and had the opportunity to hear from Mayor Reed before heading out to volunteer in Harrisonburg.

We sent out groups to different community organizations where students helped organize, clean, paint, prepare garden beds, cut down trees, pulled weeds, read to kids, and helped a family move in. Together, we completed 864 total service hours with a group that size over the course of two days. That is critical for non-profits who rely on volunteers to help complete tasks and projects. Non-profits often have limited funding, time, staffing, and resources, which means many of these projects may have taken longer to complete or may have been postponed.

Does your Duke love giving back? We would love to connect with them! Below are a few ways your student can get involved:

Campus with a Cause: Every month we have a new theme and we make items together to help give back to the community. Students can stop in any time 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.

Alternative Fall Break (AFB): We have 4 breaks taking place in different communities October 18-20. AFBs cost $100 and registration is now open. We also have need-based scholarships available. If your student has questions or needs more information, they can contact us at cevc@jmu.edu, 540-568-6366, or stop by our office in SSC 2200.

Learn More

Peace Corps Prep Program
student with African children

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

Did you know about JMU's Peace Corps Prep Program? This program provides excellent preparation for service in the Peace Corps or other globally-oriented professional roles, and it can be tailored to your student’s coursework and major to meet the requirements.

There will also be a Peace Corps Recruiter on campus September 13th from 10 am - 2 pm at the Center for Global Engagement to answer any questions about the Peace Corps or the application process.

Students should apply by October 15th, 2023 to be considered for the Prep Program!

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

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Donor Generosity Continues Post-Unleashed

Submitted by: Pam Brock, Senior Director, Advancement Marketing

Making good on a prediction that Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University would effectively double annual giving to JMU, the university received more than $27.5 million in charitable gifts during fiscal year 2023.

“Our donors deserve the credit for the doubling of philanthropic giving to JMU,” said President Jonathan R. Alger, who made launching a comprehensive campaign a priority from the beginning of his presidency. “But I must say that Vice President Nick Langridge and his team in Advancement executed a textbook campaign presenting a compelling case to sophisticated donors about why JMU is such a wise investment.”

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Get Your 2024 JMU Wall Calendar

Submitted by: Liz Fravel, Associate Director, Office of Annual Giving

Filled with gorgeous campus photos taken by JMU alumni, students, family and friends, each month celebrates your connection with JMU. You will receive one calendar for each contribution of at least $25 to the Parents and Families Fund.

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

Submitted by: Amy Sfaelos ('98), President, CollegeTransit

Congratulations on safely delivering your Duke to campus - I know it’s an emotional experience (we just dropped ours off as well), but we don’t have to wait long before bringing them home. CollegeTransit has been providing JMU students holiday transportation for over 30 years during Fall, Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks.

As of this submission, our Fall Break bus has sold out and is on a waiting list to add an additional bus. There are 18 seats remaining on our Thanksgiving to Allentown, Morris Plains, Teterboro and Huntington - the first three buses have already sold out. The Thanksgiving bus to King of Prussia and Howell Township is also sold out. Winter Break has recently been posted and is available for reservation or Pre-Order depending on the route.

View the trip details on CollegeTransit.com where you can also find more specific address information. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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SHD Connects JMU to the World

Submitted by: Heather Ream, Director of Marketing & Communications, Shenandoah Valley Airport

For JMU Dukes and Duke Parents, traveling to and from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley has never been easier. Whether it’s getting your student home for the holidays or planning a visit to campus yourself, Shenandoah Valley Airport (SHD) can help make travel stress-free. SHD is the Official Airport of James Madison University and is located just 15 minutes from campus. They offer convenient, seamless flights on Contour Airlines connecting the region to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and beyond. Contour’s interline agreement with American Airlines enables travelers to purchase combined tickets on both airlines under a single itinerary. Baggage will also be transferred seamlessly between flights. American Airlines and their interline partners operate approximately 700 flights daily at the Charlotte hub. The connection opportunities are plentiful while taking advantage of the perks of flying local.

Two of the biggest advantages of flying with SHD are cost savings and unparalleled convenience. Perks like FREE parking, on-site rental car options, a door-to-door shuttle service to and from the JMU campus, and free booking assistance for all your travel needs, means a more enjoyable travel experience for students and parents alike. To calculate the overall travel savings of flying with SHD, check out our True Cost Calculator on our homepage. This tool compares the cost of mileage, parking, time, and airfares with surrounding airports in one simple place to make sure you are getting the best deal.

SHD is committed to making travel for JMU students and families easier than ever. We welcome you to experience the SHD difference for your next flight! For more information about JMU travel with SHD, click the link below to visit our special JMU transportation page. You can also reach Heather Ream, Director of Marketing & Communications at hream@flyshd.com or (540) 234-8224 with any questions you have about SHD travel. Complimentary booking assistance is available by calling (540) 234-8304.

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Fall Plant and Bulb Sale


Submitted by: W. Todd Martin, II, PR and Marketing Specialist, EJC Arboretum

Shop from our wide array of plants: bulbs, perennials, shrubs, trees and select houseplants. This ongoing sale will be at the Frances Plecker Education Center and on the Ernst Tree Terrace.

Online Ordering is available. Starting on Sept 22, Become a Member to get 10% OFF and SHOP EARLY!

Learn More


Places to Study While Carrier Library is Closed

Looking for places to study? There's a map for that.

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

Is your Duke looking for a new place to study while Carrier Library is closed for renovation and expansion? We have good news!

JMU Study Spaces Map
This summer, JMU Libraries and staff across campus got together to create a study spaces map for your Duke that includes study spots in dozens of buildings all over campus. To check out the map, just visit jmu.edu/studyspaces and select a pin to read about the study spaces in that building.

New Study Spaces
In addition to advertising existing study spaces, JMU has created several new study spaces!

  • Warren 502 offers amazing views, natural light, electrical outlets, and a range of furniture, from soft seats to large tables. Formerly a restaurant across from the Union Ballroom, it now has 78 study seats repurposed from Carrier Library.
  • JMU Libraries Express is a new library location with printers, computers, lots of tables, big windows, and friendly staff ready to help! Located at 1050 S. Main Street, adjacent to the quad, JMU Libraries Express has about 20 seats, repurposed from Carrier Library.
  • Moody 107 has big windows, whiteboards, and about 24 desks for individuals. This classroom has been designated as an available study space.
  • More classrooms will also be designated as study spaces, and those will be added to the map as well.

Seats Added to Other Study Spaces
To improve existing study spaces, we relocated furniture from Carrier Library to other buildings, replacing furniture and adding seats to some of the spaces. For example, 44 new seats were added to Festival, and 26 new seats were added to Taylor.

Four Library Locations
Your Duke still has four library locations to use! Check out this list of the top 15 places to study or work in JMU Libraries. You might even learn something new (like where to get the best view of the oldest volcano on the East Coast)!

Check out this short video to learn more about how we are serving the JMU community with library services and places to study during the Carrier Library renovation and expansion.

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Student Awards, Initiatives and Research

Submitted by: Klebert Feitosa, Interim Director, Office of Student Activities, Initiatives and Research

The office of Student Activities, Initiatives and Research (STAIR) provides targeted resources for research, intellectual growth, and professional development to support inclusive excellence for all students at JMU. We help students identify competitive, external scholarships and fellowships and advise them on planning for the application process, writing personal statements, writing grant proposals and preparing for interviews. We also support and promote student creative activities and research providing travel grants, mentored research experiences for first year students (FYRE), publication opportunities in the undergraduate research journal (JMURJ), among other initiatives.

With the help of STAIR, JMU students are always climbing!

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The JMU Arts and Letters Review August Issue 3 is now available!

Submitted by: Siân White, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Letters

Learn about students, faculty, staff, and alumni from the JMU College of Arts and Letters.

Sign up to receive future issues by email.

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Join 9,000+ fellow JMU parents/families 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: Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024

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