Skip to Main Content

Office of the President

You are in the main content

Welcome Back Update

Dear JMU Colleagues,

Fountain at Burruss Hall turns to ice. Photo courtesy of Frank Doherty.
JMU campus endures the cold of winter. Above, JMU staffer Frank Doherty captured this image of the fountain at Burruss Hall turning to ice in December 2013.

Welcome back to a new semester at JMU! I hope that each of you enjoyed a peaceful and safe winter break. Many of us have been back at work since January 6 preparing for the new semester. It has been eerily quiet and far too cold! I look forward to the activity on our campus brought about by the pursuit of learning.

I want to take a few moments at the threshold of a new semester to share a few updates on recent news and developments.

Leadership Searches 
The Search Committee for the Dean of the College of Integrated Science and Engineering (CISE) has identified and invited three candidates to campus for interviews.  These interviews are anticipated to occur in January and early February.  

The Search Committee for the Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship has identified four candidates to be invited for campus interviews.  These interviews are being scheduled to occur after the CISE Dean interviews.  

Finally, the Search Committee for the Dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Studies is finalizing their selection of candidates for on-campus interviews.  These interviews will be scheduled to follow the Vice Provost campus interviews.
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Events
A full week of events has been planned to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Activities and performances ranging from the Step Afrika dance performance to a March and Speak Out will take place January 13-20. The celebration will culminate with a formal program at 7:00 pm on Monday January 20 in Wilson Hall featuring keynote speaker Dr. Steve Perry. Click here to access the full listing of events.

Upcoming Meetings and Presentations 
James Madison University continues to be well represented in national higher education organizations and events focused on issues represented in our strategic plan.  For example, I will be representing JMU at several national meetings this semester such as:  the College Board Colloquium (speaking on financial aid and its importance); the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges & Universities and its Presidents' Trust meeting (focused on engaged learning and improving student achievement); the annual conference of the American Council on Education (speaking on leadership); and the Association of Governing Boards (speaking on access).  

Dr. Scott Paulson, Associate Professor of Physics and Cluster 3 Coordinator, is an invited faculty member to be showcased in a special Demonstrations of Innovation in Teaching series at the upcoming American Association of State Colleges and Universities conference. Dr. Paulson's presentation highlights the effective use of technology to support engaged pedagogy reflective of the student-faculty interaction consistent with our vision.

Madison Collaborative
In addition to getting off to great start on campus, the Madison Collaborative has made numerous regional and national appearances. Professors Mark Piper and David McGraw presented a session on the Madison Collaborative at the International Conference on Ethics Across the Curriculum. Dr. Meg Mulrooney and Dr. Fletcher Linder presented at the Biennial Conference of the American Conference of Academic Deans and the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Dr. Keston Fulcher shared the project at the Northeastern Educational Research Association conference, and Dr. Josh Bacon and Mr. Dave Barnes presented at the Virginia Student Services Conference. The Madison Collaborative team continues to move forward with sessions on the Eight Key Questions on campus in the local community. Preliminary assessment data is under analysis and we look forward to sharing results in the future.

Capital Update
The Duke Hall expansion and renovation was completed during December 2013. All faculty and staff scheduled to move in the first phase are settled in the new space.  Classes will begin as scheduled on January 13. The remainder of the operations will move into Duke after commencement in May including Painting, Ceramics, Sawhill Gallery, Jewelry & Metals and Printmaking. The spaces are beautiful and functional and will be a great benefit to JMU.

The Student Success Center & Health Center project continues to progress and is on track for a phased completion in late spring and mid-summer 2014. The Health Center will move into their facility March 10-14.  The remainder of the departments will move in two phases: June 16 – July 1 and July 21 – August 1. Phase 1 will include Associate Vice President (AVP) for Student Success, Centennial Scholars, AVP Multicultural Awareness & Student Health, Community Service Learning, Disability Services, Learning Resource Center-Writing, Learning Resource Center-Math, Learning Resource Center-ELES, Judicial Affairs, Counseling Center, Information Technology, and Center for Faculty Innovation. Phase 2 will include Card Services, Financial Aid, University Business Office, Registrar, Orientation/Transfer and Career Academic Planning.  

The university has leased a portion of the historic Ice House located in downtown Harrisonburg. The 28,000 square-foot facility will hold Outreach and Engagement, Office of Technology Transfer, University Communications and Marketing, the Small Business Development Center and several other College of Business outreach and grant programs.  Renovations are currently under way and will be completed during the spring semester. This is an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration and engagement with the local community.

The Governor continued his investment in higher education in his last budget presented to the General Assembly on December 16. The 2014-16 biennial budget includes funding to further advance the goals of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 in the areas of affordability, access and reaching 100,000 new Virginia student degrees. The Governor's budget allocates $183.1 million in additional higher education funding. A few areas of funding for higher education include the following:
• Degree Incentives $63.0 million
• Undergraduate Financial Assistance $29.4 million
• Enrollment Growth $21.0 million
• Research Initiatives $14.6 million
• Base Operations $13.5 million
• Institutional Specific Initiatives $7.1 million
• Performance Based Initiatives $5.7 million

While the Governor's proposed budget does not include base salary increases, a contingent bonus of up to two or three percent depending on employee's performance is included. As stated on numerous other occasions, we will continue to make salary increases a top priority. We will follow and monitor budget changes during the General Assembly session, which began on Wednesday, January 8.

Advancement News
Tom Dingledine, a longtime friend and benefactor of James Madison University, has gifted 37 acres in the Northern Neck of Virginia for JMU students and faculty to use as a field laboratory for research and teaching. In addition to the 37 acres at Bluff Point, Dingledine recently placed an adjacent 860-acre parcel into a conservation easement held by the North American Land Trust that provides JMU the opportunity to conduct research and teaching exercises in its pine forests and saltwater marshes neighboring the Chesapeake Bay.

University faculty who have visited the site are eager to study areas such as water quality, marsh ecology, archaeology, geology, engineering, shore land mapping, public history and environmental writing. Learn more.

Grow By Degrees
The Grow By Degrees program aims to fuel Virginia's continued economic recovery and sustained growth through high impact investments and innovations in Virginia's colleges and universities. This coalition has promoted a vision of expanding job opportunities and economic growth through reinvestment in our state's higher education system. Program goals include creating cost efficient new ways to access college degrees, making college affordable for low and middle-income families, and increasing public-private collaboration on university-based research. More information on this program can be found at

Madison Vision Series
I am thrilled to announce that Kat Imhoff, President and CEO of the Montpelier Foundation, will present a lecture for the Madison Vision Series on Tuesday, March 18 at 3:30 pm in Grafton-Stovall Theater. Ms. Imhoff will visit with students and faculty throughout the day. Her multi-media lecture will incorporate Civic Engagement and the Power of Place; connecting the relevance of history to the 21st Century.

Carly Fiorina will present a lecture on April 9. Ms. Fiorina is the chair of Good360. She is the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, and serves on the JMU Board of Visitors. Carly established Carly Fiorina Enterprises to focus on powerful levers for unlocking human potential. These include Championing Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Building Leaders and Organizational Capacity; Engaging Women; and Targeted Philanthropy.

We expect to soon confirm a date for Jeff Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, to visit JMU.

Madison Week
We will be celebrating our institution's mission and honoring the legacy of the man known as the Father of the Constitution during Madison Week, March 17-21.

JMU's week-long celebration of the fourth president's 263rd birthday will include the Diversity Conference on Monday titled "Engaging our Community and Creating Change", and a lecture in the Madison Vision Series on Tuesday featuring speaker Kat Imhoff from the Montpelier Foundation. The national conference "Intelligence in the Transition from War to Peace," featuring the CIA's declassified documents from the war in Bosnia/the Balkans in the 90's, will occur on Wednesday and Thursday and will bring national and international dignitaries, scholars and academics to campus.  Friday will conclude with the annual Stewardship Luncheon. We will also continue the celebration on the Quad for students, staff and the community, as well as Madison-themed events with Dining Services and a day of volunteerism in the community.

Clearly we have a lot to look forward to in the coming semester. Thank you for all you do to make JMU a haven for learning and growth. I am grateful for your many contributions to our collective success.

Happy New Year,

Jon Alger