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Winter Message and Fall Semester Review

Wilson Hall

Warm Winter Greetings,

As we near the end of fall semester, I’d like to share several university updates with you. Once again, it’s been a busy and productive term, and we have much to acknowledge and celebrate as we approach a well-earned winter break.

Madison Plan

Engaged University Council

The new vision for James Madison University states that we will be the national model of the engaged university, and our strategic plan, with a focus on engaged learning, community engagement, and civic engagement, lays a path that will carry James Madison University forward in fulfilling this vision. Our university is already active in all three areas of engagement. This new effort offers an opportunity for us to be more clearly defined in our goals and expected impact on the learning and development of our students, more intentional and coordinated in our efforts, and consistent in measuring our progress and achievements. This is a significant undertaking that will take the involvement and commitment of faculty, staff, administrators and students across all areas of the university.

To help lead this effort, I have established the Engaged University Council. This Council will report to me and the Senior Leadership, and will be charged with the oversight of efforts within and integrated across the three pillars of engagement, and with identifying and addressing challenges and opportunities that transcend the work within any one of the three pillars. The Council will consist of the Co-Chairs of the Engaged Learning Committee, the Community Engagement Committee and the Civic Engagement Committee, the Associate Vice President of Communications and Marketing, the Executive Director for the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, and the Chair of the Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action.

The following individuals have been appointed as committee co-chairs:

Civic Engagement Committee: Jessica Adolino and Meg Mulrooney
Engaged Learning Committee: Judy Dilts and Dietrich Maune
Community Engagement Committee: Carol Fleming and Rich Harris

Each committee will set up sub-committees to pursue certain activities. Our goal is to have the committees fully formed by early in the spring semester.

I know you join me in the excitement about the potential that our work holds for the future of our university, and more importantly for the future of our students and their educational endeavors.

President Alger in

Sexual Assault Education and Prevention

Over the past year our nation has been paying great attention to the issue of sexual assault, including its impact on students at colleges and universities. We have been working extensively with students, faculty and staff to address this critical issue. Sexual assault has no place in higher education, and we must do everything within our power to ensure the safest possible learning environment. Earlier this semester, I joined students and staff in speaking extensively with a Washington Post reporter regarding our ongoing efforts in this area.

As part of our extensive work on this issue, we have carefully reviewed a number of extensive governmental communications including a White House report, a “Dear Colleague” letter from the U.S. Department of Education, and additional guidance from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

To organize university efforts, I assembled a Title IX Task Force in August 2014 to review all of the federal guidance, to analyze where our policies and procedures needed to be updated or amended, and to make other recommendations as appropriate for training, education, and enforcement efforts. The task force has made a number of recommendations to improve university processes—including, e.g., increasing the number of Title IX officers to better meet campus needs and collaborating with the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices in revising the process for managing student complaints.

The task force created three sub-committees: one to review procedures for handling complaints filed by faculty as currently addressed in the Faculty Handbook; the second to develop a climate survey to be implemented in spring 2015; and the third to review our current training opportunities and propose new means of implementing compulsory training for all faculty, staff, and students. The work of this task force will continue indefinitely.

Concurrently, the university has developed a multi-faceted approach to enhancing efforts surrounding sexual assault education and prevention. Listed below are just a few examples of those efforts.

  • We are reviewing best practices nationally and working with Governor McAuliffe’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence, the Attorney General’s Office, and colleagues across the Commonwealth of Virginia in developing new strategies for sexual assault prevention, education, and response.
  • The Student Government Association (SGA) and the organizations in the Fraternity and Sorority Life Office have committed to partnering with the administration on education and training for students.
  • The campus has participated in several campaigns this fall, including the “No More” project through the Office of Residence Life, the “Red Flag” campaign sponsored by the University Health Center, and the “It’s On Us” initiative promoted by the SGA.
  • Madison Equality sponsored a panel discussion on sexual misconduct processes and procedures.
  • The LiveSafe smartphone app has been made available to the campus community to assist in prompt reporting of suspicious behavior and staying in contact with others while moving around campus and Harrisonburg.
  • Additional training programs are being researched and explored for implementation beginning in the spring semester on topics such as bystander intervention, summer camps, and involvement with student and faculty organizations.

A full list is being compiled and will be available soon. This is an extensive and ongoing process. Our efforts to strengthen education, prevention, enforcement, and support services will continue to be a top priority, and we will continue to report on our progress on this front in the months to come.

SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award Nominees

JMU cultivates stellar talent through a variety of initiatives, including participation in the Outstanding Faculty Awards (OFA) for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) administers these awards, which are the Commonwealth of Virginia's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. We are proud to announce JMU’s nominees for the 2015 OFA competition:

David BernsteinDavid Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science, CISE
Dr. Bernstein’s most important work has been in the area of navigation and information systems (particularly GPS navigation systems). His research on in-vehicle computing and route finding has been cited by hundreds of other scholars throughout the world. He draws on a deep background of research and business experience to create real-world learning environments for his students that are regularly cited for their sophisticated and educational impact.

Steven WhitmeyerSteven Whitmeyer, Professor of Geology/Environmental Science, CSM
Dr. Whitmeyer’s research on developing and implementing geospatial tools for classroom and field educational settings links directly and powerfully to his teaching practices. He and his research students seek out and test new devices and geospatial platforms to evaluate their effectiveness for enhanced visualization and inquiry-based learning, often using Google Earth and other virtual tools.

Frances FlanneryFrances Flannery, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, CAL
Dr. Flannery is an internationally recognized expert in apocalypticism and terrorism, and her work is frequently used by scholars and governmental agencies. She is the author of internationally circulated publications on apocalyptic terrorism for the intelligence community in the U.S. and Canada, and she is the founding director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Terrorism and Peace (CISTP).

Theresa ClarkeTheresa Clarke, Professor of Marketing, COB
Dr. Clarke teaches and conducts research into sales, online marketing, and marketing education, providing experiential learning opportunities for students through practitioner-based courses. Dr. Clarke’s students have won top global awards for six out of seven years running in the internationally renowned Google Online Marketing Challenge, including a team of her students named 2014 AdWords Business Global Winner.

Travis StokesTrevor Stokes, Professor of Graduate Psychology, CHBS
Dr. Stokes’s foundational research into behavioral psychology is internationally renowned. His published work has been cited more than 4400 times according to Google Scholar and more than 2100 citations have been tracked by the Social Science Citation Index. Dr. Stokes's career has been defined by his innovative clinical work with students and clinic clients in communities close to home in Virginia and around the world.

Fariss Terry MousaFariss Terry Mousa, Assistant Professor of Management, COB
Dr. Mousa infuses his teaching and research into management, high-tech firms, and entrepreneurship with a passion for humanitarianism, including integration of his work with the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR), where he works with students, instructors, and managers involved in post-conflict recovery and reconstruction efforts around the world.

Gina MacDonaldGina MacDonald, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CSM
Dr. MacDonald’s work on structure-function relationships in proteins is nationally recognized with multiple high-profile research grants and teaching awards. Dr. MacDonald has been a pioneer in opening the doors of science to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, work that has been recognized by the U.S. government’s top honor for outstanding scientists and engineers, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

iDebate Rwanda

Madison Vision Series

Constitution Day (September 17), an important day in the life of the university named for James Madison, was especially significant with the return of Harrisonburg-born Justice William C. Mims of the Supreme Court of Virginia to commence the second year of the Madison Vision Series. Justice Mims’ lecture, “Be It Ever So Humble: Justice as a Virtue,” continued the series’ goal of bringing scholars, thinkers and leaders of all kinds to campus for lively explorations of issues facing our contemporary society. Mims encouraged the JMU community to think of justice as something we can do and something we can strive for each day at the individual level.

On October 16, Jeffrey Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, considered how our founding fathers might have handled the complexities of privacy and technology in our culture today. In his presentation, “The Bill of Rights in the 21st Century,” Rosen asserted that James Madison would want to protect citizens’ natural rights from threats from the private or public sectors.

The iDebate Rwanda team of young people from the genocide-ravaged nation offered hope in their November 5 panel discussion, “Thinking and Speaking a Better World.” The discussion revealed harrowing stories of lives lost, families broken and extreme violence during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where each narrative highlighted the importance of civic discourse in Rwanda now.

You can see videos and stories at

Compensation Task Force News

In-Band Adjustments

Recently, the classified employee In-band Adjustment (IBA) process was administered and resulted in pay adjustments for over 120 employees that ranged from 1% to 10%. The IBA process is designed to enhance pay equity through the review and analysis of requests submitted by the supervisors of classified employees. This year we are proud to announce that for the first time since the IBA program began we were able to fund every approved request. This accomplishment came as the result of a recommendation originally submitted by the Compensation Task Force and sound financial management.

Gender, Race/Ethnicity Salary Analysis

In response to a recommendation submitted by the Compensation Task Force in May 2013, JMU recently completed a Gender, Race/Ethnicity Salary Analysis designed to identify and correct potential salary inequities. To ensure objectivity, an outside consulting firm was chosen through a competitive bid process to complete the study. The DCI Consulting Group finished the report in March 2014, analyzing the salaries of all full-time instructional faculty, A&P faculty and classified employees. The firm’s formal statistical analysis indicated no systemic gender or race/ethnicity discrimination in compensation at JMU. As a result of the study, five employees did receive salary adjustments to ensure equity.

Northern Virginia event

Madison Vision Tour

This semester I began a tour to unveil the Madison Plan among some of our core supporters, alumni, parents and friends. It will be vital that we continue to reach out and encourage our alumni and other supporters to engage with us on our journey to become the national model of the engaged university.

Events so far have been held in Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and New York City. Future events will be held in other locations around the Commonwealth of Virginia and the country, including here in Harrisonburg with the local community. These gatherings have provided great opportunities to connect or reconnect with alumni, parents, and other supporters of the university– many of whom attended the Why Madison Listening Tour events at which we received input that helped shape our new vision.

Faculty, students and alumni participated in the program with me as we talked about the three pillars of engagement and offered inspiring examples of what we mean by engagement on campus.

The Madison Plan has been received well. You can see photos and watch videos of some of the reactions and responses at the Vision Tour site.

Sharing JMU’s Vision Nationally

I have made major presentations at several national higher education conferences recently (including the Northeast Educational Research Association, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the American Council on Education’s Institute for New Presidents) at which I have been able to talk about JMU’s vision and our principles of engagement. On January 8, I have been asked by several national higher education associations to represent four-year public institutions on a panel in Washington, D.C., at the unveiling of the new Post-Collegiate Outcomes Initiative, which focuses on a new conceptual framework to broaden the conversation about college outcomes to include civic and community engagement as well as life-long learning and related skills and attributes. This initiative is sponsored in part by the Gates Foundation and represents an opportunity to enhance the national dialogue on the outcomes people expect from a college education. These are great opportunities to raise our institutional profile nationally.

Shanil Virani

Madison Trust

In November, we unveiled something path-breaking on campus when we brought together potential investors and faculty and staff presenters in the inaugural event of the Madison Trust.

In an all-day session, 12 teams of JMU faculty and staff members presented innovative ideas that if funded, would benefit not just JMU but our wider communities and society. Faculty presenters had 15 minutes to make their pitches and then five minutes for Q&A with potential investors.

Our faculty, staff and students have great ideas, but we have to find creative ways of supporting them in this era of tight budgetary constraints in higher education. So I welcome the Madison Trust as having great potential to develop a new source of funding and innovation. The spirit of innovation will be critical to the future economic success of the Commonwealth of Virginia and our country as a whole.

Pitches included advancing JMU research to assist in hearing loss compensation; a personal financial literacy Ted-Talk series open to students and alumni; a new method of restoring health to the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay; developing new forms of alternative energy; introducing a safer method of cutting highway slopes to reduce the risk of rock fall; strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem at JMU; and more.

This is engagement in a vibrant form. This is what I mean when I say, “let’s dream big together!” The Madison Trust represents a thoughtful partnership that we began planning for more than a year ago. Our academic leadership welcomed the effort led by University Advancement and guided by two of our most steadfast and visionary donors, Leslie Gilliam (’82) and Don Rainey (’82).

Last summer the call went out to campus for proposals and in September we reached out to our alumni, parents and friends who might show interest. University Advancement offered two well-attended workshops for faculty and staff to help them prepare for their proposals and presentations. Faculty and staff submitted more than 50 proposals (which came from every college), many of which were cross-disciplinary. A core group of principals and JMU administrators narrowed them to the 12 finalists. Final funding results will be received later this month.

University Advancement looks forward to continuing the Madison Trust next year and hopes to receive more outstanding proposals for innovation to share with donors in this successful new forum, where JMU ideas and investors meet.

Fall Athletics Updates


The football program had an exciting season under first-year head coach Everett Withers, posting a 9-3 regular season mark and returning to the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2011. The Dukes won seven straight games to conclude the regular season, finishing 6-2 and third in the CAA after being picked eighth in the preseason poll. The team also had seven players named to All-CAA teams, led by seniors Dean Marlowe and Sage Harold on the first team. Marlowe has been invited to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game in January. Additionally, redshirt-junior quarterback Vad Lee, freshman cornerback Jimmy Moreland and Withers were finalists for national player, freshman and coach of the year awards, respectively.

Men’s Soccer

The men’s soccer team captured the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association championship, defeating the top three seeds in the tournament en route to the title and the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship event. Senior Daniel Simpson was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Performer and was joined on the All-Tournament team by junior Bjarki Aðalsteinsson and redshirt-sophomore Connor Coward. Head Coach Tom Martin completed his 29th and final season as the head coach of the program, finishing as the winningest active Division I coach and fifth all time in Division I victories with a JMU record of 359-164-58. He led the Dukes to 10 NCAA Tournament berths, seven Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) regular season titles and five CAA Tournament championships. A five-time CAA and four-time Virginia Division I Coach of the Year, Martin led the Dukes to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals twice (1994 and 1995), as the team's 1995 performance earned him Soccer News South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year honors.

Other Fall Sports

Three other team sports qualified for their CAA Tournaments, with field hockey advancing to the CAA Championship match before falling late in the game, and women’s soccer and volleyball both earning berths in the CAA Semifinals. Field hockey had three players named to the All-South Region teams and seven to the All-CAA units, including the CAA Defensive Player of the Year senior Dana Allaband. Women’s soccer had five on the All-CAA squads, with two first-team picks, while the volleyball team had three recognized on the all-league teams.

Cross country had a solid fall as well, finishing third at the CAA Championships, sixth at the ECAC Championships and 11th at the NCAA Regionals. Junior Kathleen Stewart and sophomore Tessa Mundell earned All-CAA honors for their top-10 performances at the league championship.

Additionally, the 1994 NCAA national championship field hockey squad was the first team inducted into the JMU Athletics Hall of Fame. The team was joined by Gail Decker Wittman (lacrosse), Mike Fox (men’s cross country/track and field), Delvin Joyce (football) and Lisa Staedt Ojea (lacrosse) in the 2014 Hall of Fame class.

Winter Sports

Our basketball teams are off to very solid starts in their 2014-15 campaigns. The women’s team opened the season with an overtime victory over then-No. 23 UCLA and vaulted themselves into the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll. The women are 6-1 in their season as of December 4, with victories over Pittsburgh and Houston and the only loss a tight one to then No. 10 Maryland. The men’s basketball team started the season with a capacity crowd at the Convocation Center as the team hosted No. 8 Virginia for a tough in-state battle. Though the Dukes came up on the short end in that game, they quickly rebounded to win five of the next six.

The teams will be home at the Convocation Center a combined seven times throughout the month of December, leading into CAA action starting in January with a Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend of hometown hoops Jan. 2-4. Please come out and support your home teams as they push towards the CAA Basketball Tournaments in early March.

Swimming and diving is also off to a good start on their season, having won all three legs of the CAA Pod meet in November over UNCW, Delaware and William & Mary. The team will have a pair of home meets in January against Liberty (Jan. 17) and Campbell and Clemson (Jan. 31), providing great opportunities to see the Dukes in action during their preparation for the CAA Swimming and Diving Championships at the end of February.

Snow cleanup of Bridgeforth Stadium

Special Thanks

A huge thank you to all those from Facilities Maintenance, Grounds, Landscaping, Housekeeping and Recycling as well as Athletic Facilities who came out during the Thanksgiving holiday week to help get Bridgeforth Stadium and surrounding areas in excellent shape for the first round game of the NCAA FCS Playoffs. We couldn’t have had the atmosphere we had without your tireless work. Also a sincere thank you to all those who stayed or returned early from the holiday break to work the home game, as it was a great effort to put on a quality event on our campus.

Newman Lake damn repair

Facilities and Construction Updates

New Health and Human Services Building

The East Tower of the old hospital complex is demolished and the foundations are going in now. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Newman Lake Dam Repair

The dam is being upgraded to comply with state regulations; the project will be completed in spring 2015. A turn lane will be added to Bluestone Drive as part of the project. While traffic will be inconvenienced, it will remain two-way for the duration of the project.

Bike/Walking Paths

The Bicycle Master Plan was completed in spring 2014, and the first phase of construction has begun. This phase picks up the Bluestone Trail as it crosses Port Republic Road by Lake View Hall (the former WVPT building) and continues around Newman Lake. This phase will be completed during spring 2015. Work will continue on additional phases in the future.

Hotel and Conference Center

In order to better meet the needs of the JMU community as a place of convening, we are moving forward with exciting plans to construct a hotel and conference center. Last month JMU held a public hearing to receive comments from interested parties regarding obtaining a land lease for the purpose of designing and constructing a hotel and conference center on property owned by the university. As a result of the public hearing JMU entered into an agreement with dpM Partners Inc. to lease the property for the construction of the center. The Hotel and Conference Center is a joint venture between the city of Harrisonburg, the JMU Foundation, and dpM Partners.

Other Projects

Construction continues on schedule for both the Grace Street Housing Project (completion summer 2015) and the UREC Expansion and Renovation (2016 completion).

Design efforts continue on three additional capital projects. Madison Hall renovations are progressing through the design and regulatory review phases. The Mason Street Parking Deck is just entering the design phase. The University Services Annex design is underway, however construction will be postponed for one year to allow additional parking on the building site during the construction of the Mason Street Parking Deck.
Finally, we are in the process of selecting an architectural design firm to design a new dining hall. Gibbons Hall (i.e., D-Hall) will be demolished and a new state-of-the-art facility will be built in its place. Construction on this new facility is scheduled to begin during the fall of 2016. Additional news will be shared on this project as plans progress.

Jimmy Madison

Holiday Leave

One of the best parts of my job is being able to share unexpected good news. Recently this came in the form of our decision to grant additional leave time for all JMU employees at the Thanksgiving break, as well as two days of leave in December, making the winter closing a full two weeks. It is my hope that the extra days away from work will provide each of you with time to reflect upon blessings, refresh spirits, and rejoice with family and friends.

I look forward to our good work together in 2015, and wish you a warm winter break.

Jonathan R. Alger