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President Alger's Remarks At the Opening Staff Meeting

May Semester Recap

May 7, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

It is with tremendous gratitude that I write this message of thanks to the Madison community. This spring is a momentous time for the university and I want to acknowledge the efforts of several groups working to help take us into a new era.

On behalf of the entire University, I want to thank you all for another wonderful semester. Let me also thank you once again for your warm welcome to me and my family during this first academic year for us at JMU. As I have noted on numerous occasions, our people are our most important resource, and that point is underscored every day by your efforts on many fronts.

As we seek to ensure good communications with all faculty and staff on topics of interest to all of us in the University community, let me share this summary of some key activities and initiatives from this past semester.

First, it was a great privilege to witness the May commencement ceremonies for the class of 2013. Approximately 4000 educated and enlightened citizens began their lives as alumni thanks to your support, and I hope that each of you experienced a fulfilling sense of joy and accomplishment.

While a multitude of this semester’s activities – both in and out of classrooms – represent JMU’s most important work, I want to highlight eight specific items that may interest you from our second semester together:

  1. Reaffirmation of Accreditation 

  2. Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action 


    Madison Future Commission (strategic planning) 

  4. Budget 

  5. Compensation Task Force 

  6. Academic Accomplishments 

  7. Diversity Task Force 

  8. New Facilities

  1. Reaffirmation of Accreditation

    The on-site committee for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges found no compliance issues and made no recommendations to either our Quality Enhancement Plan (“QEP”) or Compliance Certification—a very good sign. They hailed JMU as a model and expressed appreciation for our preparation and hospitality. Our reaffirmation now moves on to the final phase – a vote by the SACSCOC Advisory Board – at their annual meeting in December. It is quite rare for a university to have no recommendations for their QEP or response to the Standards of Reaffirmation. My sincere thanks to all who worked on this very important effort.

  2. Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action

    While our accreditation by SACSCOC is not officially reaffirmed until December, our QEP was approved for implementation. The Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action is already taking shape in Freshman Orientation, General Education and in many courses across majors. I am very proud of this initiative and am certain that it will positively affect our students, demonstrate a strong foundation for a liberal arts education and become a signature program for the University. Thank you to all who created, designed and are now implementing the Madison Collaborative. Please visit the Madison Collaborative website for the latest information.

  3. Madison Future Commission

    More than 150 faculty and staff members, students, former faculty members, alumni, former Board of Visitors members, and community members are actively working to develop the university’s new strategic plan are making solid progress:

    ·  A series of well attended Town Hall meetings on and off campus were held in April. Both positive and constructive feedback gathered at each event will help to inform the Commission’s work. 

    ·  Committees are ahead of schedule, with many having created draft versions of issues, core qualities and goals.
Committees will spend the summer refining their work. The final plan will be sent to the Board of Visitors for approval in October 2013. Please 
visit the Madison Future Commission website to find out more about the process – you can even provide your input directly using the website.

  4. Budget

    The General Assembly’s 2013 session is complete and we will receive additional Commonwealth general funds designated to cover:

    ·  Enrollment growth

    ·  Salary increases

    ·  Undergraduate financial aid

    ·  Base operations 

    When these new general fund allocations are combined with the increased revenue from the Board of Visitors’ approved tuition and fees we will be able to add more teaching faculty to handle enrollment growth, further increase salaries, operate and maintain the renovated and expanded Duke Hall and soon-to-be-completed Constitution Hall, cover increases in medical insurance for employees, and fund expanded programmatic and operational needs across divisions.

  5. Compensation Task Force 

    Addressing compensation issues at JMU has been a top priority for the administration this year, and the Compensation Task Force has been hard at work to formulate recommendations. We look forward to the report due soon from the Task Force and thank members for their commitment. 
As soon as it is received, the Senior Leadership Team will thoroughly review the report and recommendations from the Compensation Task Force. It is our plan to spend time at the June Board of Visitors meeting discussing the topic of compensation and budgeting, and we will update the community again after that meeting. As we know, this set of issues will require a multi-year and multi-phased approach, and we will continue to consider ideas and recommendations to make progress on this front. 
It is worth noting that JMU has made progress on compensation issues during the last 18 months. More than one million dollars was permanently allocated to address faculty salary inversion. JMU faculty and staff have received multiple bonuses, including two within the last 10 months, and the University is covering the recent employer healthcare premium increase of $1,600 per employee (based on weighted average).

  6. Academic Accomplishments this Semester 

    Nearly every day I discover yet more noteworthy accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students. There are far too many to mention in this message, but please take a look at the most recent edition of Madison Scholar for a report on academic accomplishments at JMU.

  7. Diversity Task Force 

    More than four hundred ideas on how to enhance diversity at JMU were collected by the Diversity Task Force this spring through roundtables, surveys, e-mail submissions, comment cards and focus groups. The Task Force is now compiling the ideas and relevant data to craft a final report to be submitted by June. After reviewing the report with the university’s leadership team, it will be shared with the Madison Future Commission and then the campus community this coming fall semester. Thank you to the Task Force and everyone who participated this spring in the idea-gathering process. Please visit the diversity website for more information.

  8. Facilities

    Our campus continues to transform as we meet the changing needs of students, faculty and staff. Several exciting projects are under way and represent real advances in place-based learning, research and discovery, student services and campus life. Here are a few highlights:

    ·  Duke Hall Renovation and Addition. Originally, Duke Hall housed the University’s Music, Theatre and Art departments. The building was opened in 1967 as a classroom, studio and faculty office facility for the arts and obviously outgrew its purpose many years ago. 
This project includes the renovation of and an addition to the original building with the goal of devoting the entire facility to the School of Art and Art History. It is on schedule for completion in December 2013.

    ·  College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Building. This new facility, planned for the site of the current East Wing of the previous Rockingham Memorial Hospital, will house some of the Health Sciences disciplines including laboratory, classroom, faculty office and administrative spaces. Construction is due to begin in May 2014.

    ·  Student Success Center. This project will renovate the previous Rockingham Memorial Hospital West Wing to create a Student Success Center consisting of 16 student support programs. You’ve probably noticed the impressive efforts to integrate new construction with existing structures. Work is on schedule to be completed in May 2014.

    ·  Grace Street Student Housing. This project will accommodate 507 student beds in an apartment-style configuration as well as related retail and program space along the span of Grace Street between Memorial Hall and Main Street. Construction is scheduled to start in fall 2013.

    ·  UREC Expansion. The new facilities will include individual and group fitness areas, gym and court spaces for intramural and club sports, as well as meeting and instructional spaces. Construction is to start in May 2014. 
Please visit the campus construction website for more on campus construction. 

Good luck this summer in every endeavor! As we strive to improve work-life balance and flexibility across the University, we hope that you will enjoy the modified summer schedule. Business hours from May 6-August 16, 2013 will be Monday-Thursday 8:00 am-5:00 pm and Friday 8:00 am-Noon. Alternate or flexible work schedules that meet the 40-hour weekly requirement are acceptable with supervisory approval.

Thank you all for another productive semester. We realize that the most important work on our campus happens every day as you care for our students, each other, and our campus. Have a great summer!


Jon Alger


James Madison University 

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Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2016

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