Madison Family Newsletter: January 2024

Madison Family Newsletter: January 2024

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, 

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a great start and that you have enjoyed some quality time with your Dukes.  

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! My 50th was made extra special by all the amazing people in my life and celebrating with thousands of Dukes at the Bowl game in Texas! I appreciate your well wishes, and I am looking forward to this next decade of my life.   

Supporting Dukes  

Jones Miller Student Emergency Fund 

As many of you know, Jamie and I have created a Student Emergency Fund named in honor of our parents to support Dukes who struggle with unexpected costs while enrolled at JMU. While there are many scholarships for costs like tuition and fees, there is no fund to help students with other costs that may occur during the semester. I have spent most of my career on issues of students’ basic needs and working to support students in these moments. Research and my anecdotal experience have shown that the final financial straw for students is often less than $100 that might take the form of a flat tire, a costly book or an emergency trip home to support family.   

Jamie and I have committed $50,000 to the creation of this fund so that no JMU student will be alone in facing these issues. We hope this fund will keep Dukes here through graduation and we appreciate the Dean of Students for agreeing to host and administer these funds starting in the Fall of 2024. We are proud that 109 people have already donated $14,000 to this fund and our hope is that we will continue to raise money to support students. If you want to learn more or support this fund, please go to the Jones Miller Student Emergency Fund. 

Support the JMU food pantries 

Many of you have been great supporters of our on-campus food pantries, and I want to let you know of a fun way you can help while also building school spirit. Beginning Feb. 1, JMU will be participating in the Schools of the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Food Fight. We’ll have more information in next month’s newsletter about how you can get involved but you can learn more at the link above. 

For students who may be struggling academically 

Transitioning to college can be a challenge, so please let your Duke know that they are not alone. We know that some students were placed on academic probation after the Fall semester, so the Dean of Students and I are hosting our Spring Rebound course again. This will be a weekly course that students attend where we help them build skills like studying, time management and test taking. In addition, they meet one on one with either Matthew Hunsberger in the Dean of Students office or me where we would create some accountability for their efforts.   

Another opportunity is the Academic Mentor Program, which involves mentorship working with a fellow Duke who can provide guidance and support. This includes three one-on-one meetings before Spring Break to develop a plan to succeed academically. 

To sign up for either of these programs, have your student go here. 

The other resource is Learning Success Strategies, which offers a number of resources and one on one trainings for students and has been highly effective for many years. Students can go to the link above to learn more and sign up for an appointment. 


There are so many things for students to do here at JMU. Be Involved is a great place to learn what groups exist on campus. For students who could use a little help finding the right fit, Explore Madison can help with that connection. This program will give them an opportunity to meet one on one with one of our staff in Student Life who will guide them through their involvement options at JMU. 

Questions to ask your student 

What are you looking forward to this semester? 

Tip: Encourage them to explore new experiences they may not have considered before and broaden their options and their mind. 

What are your plans for Spring Break? 

Tip: This is a chance to be sure you’re on the same page regarding travel, who’s paying and if getting a job may be in their near future. 

What are your academic goals for the Spring Semester? 

Tip: Many students fail to succeed academically because there are no shared goals between them and their families. It’s appropriate for you to have some expectations and for them to work hard to achieve those goals. 

What are your plans for the summer? 

Tip: I saw a Chinese proverb today that I really liked, and I think it’s applicable here. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The same planning is appropriate for internships, summer jobs, summer school or summer study abroad. Help them start thinking about this now and not in May. 

Upcoming Events 

Beginning Jan. 15 | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week events 

Jan. 18 | 7 – 9 p.m. | Festival Ballroom | Student Org Night 

There are also weekly events for students to drop in and enjoy such as Tea Time, Crafternoon and Underground Sound Concert Series.

Winter Is Coming! 

Finally, I wanted to remind you all to talk with your Dukes about winter at JMU. For some of them, this will be the first winter where they must clean off their own car, clear their parking spot so they can get out, and clear their sidewalks and driveways. Please talk to them about these responsibilities and make sure they know how to clear their car off, so they don’t endanger themselves and others on the roads. I would also ask you to make sure they have the right equipment with them when they come back, including a scraper/brush as well as a snow shovel. Too many winters I see our students trying to get their cars out with pots and pans and struggling to get to class on time. This is a good time for them to learn these skills and be safe driving this winter. Also, please remind them that they can clear off the car next to them and maybe clear an extra sidewalk or a driveway for a neighbor. That’s what Dukes do. 

Enjoy these remaining days with your Duke, we’re looking forward to having them back on campus for the Spring semester. We are also so excited for our many Dukes who are entering their final semester and can’t wait to celebrate them this May! 

Go Dukes! 

Dr. Tim Miller

Vice President for Student Affairs

Fort Worth Fun


Submitted by: Justin Roth, Senior Associate Director, Marketing Design and Strategy

More than 1,000 alumni, parents, students and fans celebrated and cheered on the Dukes in Fort Worth at the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force as the football team made history by playing in JMU’s first bowl game ever. The rest of us celebrated at home or at watch parties to catch the action. Catch up on the celebration.

Learn More

Scholarship Applications Now Available for 24-25

Submitted by: Steven Cox, Associate Director for Scholarships, Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

The 24-25 scholarship application cycle has arrived!

Madison Scholarships Hub is the application center for all JMU Foundation scholarships at James Madison University. To log in to Madison Scholarships Hub, go to MyMadison and under the Student tab click on the logo for Madison Scholarships Hub. Qualifications for the majority of our scholarships are based on the general application information as well as information pulled directly from your student academic record. Deadlines vary across departments so be sure to complete the general application as soon as possible to receive full consideration. Review the criteria carefully for any recommended scholarship opportunity you are presented with and if you meet the qualifications, click apply to submit additional required information. Scholarships primarily open in January for the upcoming award year. Many scholarships require financial need, so if you have not done so, make sure to file the 24-25 FAFSA at this time as well. You may be prevented from qualifying/applying for recommended scholarships without the FAFSA on file.

Learn More

The 2024-25 FAFSA is Available!

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

The Department of Education has started a “soft launch” of the 2024-25 FAFSA where the form will be available for periods of time. During the soft launch period, the Department will be monitoring site performance, conducting planned pauses for maintenance and making updates to improve the applicant experience. For more information about this “soft launch”, please refer to this portion of our website dedicated to the new FAFSA changes.

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 studentaid.gov.

Learn More

Study Abroad Over Spring Break

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

Have a busy student looking to squeeze in a short-term study abroad program? Spring Break programs offer international education experiences at a lower cost! Students should apply by January 26th to practice sports medicine in Ireland, learn leadership skills on a Caribbean cruise, or complete a service-learning project in the Dominican Republic.

Learn More

Out of State Student Travel Home: Winter & Spring Breaks

Submitted by: Amy Sfaelos, President, College Transit

Happy New Year JMU families! First we want to thank everyone for using our service this past year. By using CollegeTransit during 2023 you helped save approximately 400 tons of carbon emissions from the roads.

Winter Break - As of this submission, we only have a few seats left on the bus to campus from King of Prussia and Howell Township, so act quickly!

Spring Break - The Northeast route to Allentown, Morris Plains, Teterboro and Huntington has been posted with seats available for immediate registration. The Mid-Atlantic Route (King of Prussia / Howell) begins as a Pre-Order to determine if JMU has enough interest in this trip. See our FAQs to understand how our risk-free Pre-Order waiting list works.

As a reminder since we do get the question often - CollegeTransit does NOT overbook our seats.
Have a great spring semester everyone!

Learn More

Career Closet Winter Clothing Drive


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

The University Career Center is hosting a Winter Clothing Drive for our Career Closet! This resource provides students with FREE business attire for interviews, internships, jobs, presentations, and more.

We rely on donations to keep the closet running. If you have any gently used business attire, consider sending it back with your Duke after break. They can drop off all items at the Career Center on the 3rd floor of the Student Success Center.

Accepted Items: (All apparel and footwear sizes are needed!)

  • Business suits
  • Dress shirts
  • Blouses
  • Slacks
  • Jackets
  • Skirts
  • Dress shoes
  • Ties
  • Belts
  • Scarves

The JMU Career Closet CANNOT accept the following: Winter Coats, Trench Coats, high-heeled shoes over 3 inches or strappy sandals.

For those who want to support students through the Career Closet but don't have clothes to donate, or for those who might be too far to drop off items, we've curated a wish list of work attire essentials. Click the link below to make a difference today!

Learn More

Spring Meal Plans

Submitted by: Jenna (Maroney) Gray, Director of Student Engagement, JMU Dining


Is your Duke prepared for Spring 2024 with our flexible meal plan options? We have some tips and reminders:


Students who had fall meal plans will automatically be enrolled for the spring. To make changes, no problem! Here’s how:

  • Change can be made 1/22-2/2 via Card Services
  • A change fee will apply
  • For questions, contact Card Services at 540-568-1749 or email: cardsrvc@jmu.edu


We have a meal plan that fits every lifestyle! After all, you deserve the Best Campus Food – ranked by Princeton Review.

For a complete list of options, or for help choosing a plan, visit jmu.campusdish.com.  To purchase a plan, we make it easy, here’s how:

  • Sign up online
  • In person at Card Services Office in SSC, 2nd Floor
  • Call 540-568-6446
  • Fax online application at 540-568-1749
  • Email cardsrvc@jmu.edu from your @dukes account
New Year, New Ways to Volunteer with CEVC!

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

As January unfolds the first pages of the new year, your student can immerse themselves in a season of health, well-being, and meaningful service. This semester we have an array of exciting events and enriching opportunities, promising a unique and uplifting start to the forthcoming spring semester.

Secure a Spot on an Alternative Driving Spring Break!

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. No worries if your student missed the deadline for flying Breaks, there is still time to register for a driving Break! Make sure they reserve their spot today before they disappear faster than the holiday cookies at a family gathering!

Dates: March 9-16, 2024
Cost: $350
Need financial assistance? Need-based scholarships and fundraising opportunities are available! 
Registration Deadline: February 1 
Registration and Alternative Break Information 

Upcoming Workshops and Programs

Weekly Game Night with Open Doors
Open Doors is Harrisonburg's only low-barrier shelter for anyone experiencing homelessness. Your student can sign up to play games and get to know Open Doors' guests. We will provide the games, so they just need to show up and have a great time! Transportation is available.

Date: Tuesdays, Now-March 26, 2024
Time: 6:15-8:15pm
Location: Open Doors (at Dayton United Methodist Church)
Registration Information

MLK Day On
Is your Duke ready to spring into service? Join us to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving the Harrisonburg community. We'll help The ARC of Harrisonburg-Rockingham as they prepare to distribute thousands of pounds of free food to anyone who shows up - no questions asked!

Date: Monday, January 15, 2024
Time: 8:30am-1:30pm
Location: The ARC of Harrisonburg-Rockingham
Registration Information

Alternative Break Fair and New Creation Pop-Up Event
Have your student stop by our office January 26 to learn more about our upcoming Alternative Breaks and to browse or purchase items from New Creation!

New Creation is a nonprofit organization on a mission to creatively counteract human trafficking with a local heart + global approach. They work with more than 60 partner organizations from 5 continents to create dignified work for those rescued from, or vulnerable to trafficking around the world.

Date: Friday, January 26, 2024
Time: 11:00am-1:00pm
Location: CEVC Office, SSC 2200
Registration Information

Shelter Cleanup with New Directions Center
New Directions Center is a non-profit organization working to reduce the impact of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking through survivor-centered advocacy, support services, community education, and awareness. They offer temporary emergency housing services for survivors in a safe, confidential home environment. Your Duke can join us in our annual shelter cleanup as we do our part to ensure that emergency housing is a welcoming refuge.

Date: Saturday, January 27, 2024
Time: 9:00am-3:00pm
Location: New Directions Center
Registration Information

Cheers to a January loaded with joy and endless opportunities! Explore more by visiting jmu.edu/cevc, drop us a line at cevc@jmu.edu, or give us a call at 540-568-6366.

Learn More

Mentorship Through Exercise

Submitted by: Anaelle Sure, Assistant Director for Communications and Engagement, University Recreation

Did you know UREC facilitates mentorship sessions between JMU faculty/staff and students? "Mentorship Through Exercise" is a UREC program that provides JMU students the opportunity to meet regularly with a faculty/staff member outside of the formal classroom setting. Well-being of college students is influenced by several factors, including a sense of belonging, a connection to the campus culture, as well as the influence of physical activity. Mentoring has been shown to effectively connect students to faculty on their campus in a way that has the potential to increase the students’ sense of belonging to the campus community. The Mentorship Through Exercise Program brings together the positive elements of mentoring and physical activity into one intervention. If you believe your student would benefit from Mentorship Through Exercise, they can learn more and sign up on our website.

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Student Awards, Initiatives and Research

Submitted by: Klebert Feitosa, Interim Director, Student Awards, Initiatives and Research

Is your Duke looking for unique opportunities to learn, serve 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.

STAIR also supports and promotes 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.

Please contact STAIR to learn more about these opportunities.

STAIR. Keep climbing!

Learn More

Give Like a Duke! Giving Day 2024

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

Giving Day is coming! On Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, our JMU community will unite for 24 hours to raise funds that make a difference for today’s students. Gifts of all sizes add up to make a HUGE impact on JMU Giving Day. We're asking all parents, family, alumni, faculty, staff and friends to GIVE LIKE A DUKE. You can start now! Sign up to be a Giving Day Ambassador and join the excitement.

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Duke Club
Hotel Madison Parent Loyalty Program

Submitted by: Martha Fraser, Director of Sales and Marketing, Hotel Madison

Hotel Madison, the official hotel of JMU, invites you to join the Parent Loyalty Program (PLP). Along with awesome hotel benefits and perks, this program offers exclusive early access for Hotel Madison’s special events, like the Winter Wine Weekend on February 23-25, 2024, and more! Simply sign-up using the online form listed below (FREE to join), stay at the hotel throughout your student’s JMU career and earn priority access to May Commencement reservations based on the number of nights stayed at Hotel Madison. It is Hotel Madison’s way of thanking you for your loyalty.

Parent Loyalty Program Benefits:

• 15% discount off the Standard Daily Rate
• 10% discount at Monty’s Restaurant and grace+main café
• Complimentary garage self-parking
• Exclusive promotions throughout the year (flash sales and early access to booking special events)
• Priority access to graduation weekend reservations based on total room nights stayed

Join the Hotel Madison Parent Loyalty Program. For more information about Hotel Madison visit the website.

Located on the campus of JMU
230 guest rooms
21,000 square feet of meeting space
Extensive fitness center
Indoor saltwater pool
Garage parking attached to hotel via a covered walkway

Learn More

Join 10,000+ 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 & guardians to engage with one another. Request to join the group here »


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Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, January 11, 2024

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