Community with IDEAS: May 2022

The Student Affairs Newsletter


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Tim's Letter

Welcome to the end of the semester!

I love this time of year as we celebrate everyone who has completed their academic journeys at JMU. Congratulations to all of you who will be honored later this week. I especially want to shout out those of you who have been completing a degree while working full or part time in Student Affairs. I remember that it took me four years to complete my Master’s degree in CSPA as I worked full time and took classes part time. Balancing all of those responsibilities can be incredibly challenging and I want to honor your sacrifices and this incredible accomplishment. I hope every one of our Student Affairs graduates will take some time to enjoy and celebrate what is behind you and more importantly, the journey ahead.  

Some of you will be moving on to your next adventure and I want to wish you the best of luck and I hope you know that you always have a home back here at JMU. While I love this time of year, I also struggle to say goodbye to so many students I have gotten to know over the last few years. This year’s undergraduate class will be the first I have known since most of them arrived back in 2018. I hope each of you will take the time to congratulate the graduates close to you and thank them for everything they have done to make JMU a better place for all of us. 

The summer is a time when many of us can take a breath and think about what is ahead. It is also a time for reflection and goal setting. As we prepare for this summer’s evaluation process, I want to remind everyone about the Social Justice and Inclusion (SJI) addendum that is part of the annual performance review process for all A&P and Classified Student Affairs employees. More information is in the Updates section below under SJI Committee. Please be sure to read about this important initiative and visit the website to learn more. Engaging in these discussions is an essential aspect of our value, Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

While thinking of your professional development goals, take a look at our Student Affairs Committees and reach out to committee chairs if you’re interested in being involved. SAPros Leadership Chair Applications are live and you can apply here.

We have now had our first successful Student Affairs Cohort hire. Currently there are nine positions included in this cohort and they will arrive between the end of May and the beginning of June. They will have weekly meetings where they will learn about the institution, Student Affairs and work to build connections with each other and across departments. Coming to a new area, university and job can be an overwhelming amount of change and I hope the continuation of the cohort process will assist these new members of our team with finding their place both at JMU and in the surrounding community. I am incredibly thankful to those departments and staff that took the leap and participated in our first cohort hire this year. It is easy to keep doing things the same way but it takes courage to try something for the first time and see your departments as part of something larger. Thank you all for joining together to do something we have never tried before and for being willing to trust the team leading this effort. We will be sending an announcement as all accepted cohort members are confirmed.

I also wanted to congratulate Dr. Kristina Blyer who has been selected as our new Associate Vice President for Health and Well-Being. We ran a nationwide search and brought four finalists to campus and in the end we are proud that Kristina was the clear choice for this role. Her past experience and her obvious passion for learning and service to JMU will allow her to bring this team to new heights in the years to come. Please congratulate Dr. Kristina Blyer next time you see her and please offer her your support as she takes on this new and exciting role at JMU.

I want to thank all of you for completing the climate study, attending the presentation of results and participating in the recent focus groups. We’ll be having more conversations about the climate study over the summer and all of you will have an opportunity to participate. You have received calendar invitations for discussion times. The first session is May 26 at 3:30 p.m. Please prepare by reading through the Executive Summary.

I want to thank you once again for all you do for our students, for supporting each other and also just for being you. As this school year ends and we begin implementing our plans for next year, be sure to do what is needed to energize yourself and lift each other up. Enjoy the events of Employee Appreciation Day and take that time to interact with each other and your colleagues from other divisions. All offices should feel free to close during the Employee Appreciation Day events so all staff can participate and join in on the fun. We are bringing back our ragtag group of musicians as well and if you want to join in on the fun email me directly and we will get you involved! (Moderate musical talent required.)

Our Student Affairs exclusive Appreciation Day is on June 16. We will be celebrating our accomplishments as well as honoring winners of the Student Affairs Awards. Don’t forget to nominate staff and programs!

Take care,

Dr. Tim Miller


JMU Libraries 

Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

JMU Libraries has compiled a list of ways to celebrate the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities around the world and learn more about Asian/Pacific American history and identity, including: free streaming movies, book displays, an art exhibit from the founder of the Suzuki method, oral histories of Filipino Americans living in the Shenandoah Valley and more. Check out the full list

Get Libraries Items Delivered to Your Department

Did you know you can have books and other items from JMU Libraries delivered right to your office? This service is available to JMU faculty, staff, and doctoral students—and it includes items from Interlibrary Loan (ILL)! Learn more.

Office of Residence Life (ORL)

Jason Jones, Associate Director of Housing in the Office of Residence Life, has accepted a role at Lees McRae College in Boone, NC as the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs. We wish Jason well after his five years of service at JMU!

Denise Sauder, Business Operations Technician, has created a new process to be used in the closing of our residence halls this spring. The entire Residence Life team is excited to use the technology that she created to make the huge undertaking of closing run a little easier.

SJI Committee

One of our values as a Student Affairs division is “Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: We confront systems of oppression by designing intentional and inclusive practices, policies, and programs in pursuit of a socially just world.” This is a reminder of our division’s Social Justice and Inclusion (SJI) addendum as part of the annual performance review process for all A&P and Classified Student Affairs employees. Social Justice and Inclusion is one of the Professional Competencies established jointly by ACPA and NASPA, and completing this document annually ensures that we continually evaluate our competence and seek to grow in this regard.  

Many of the concepts and language of the SJI Addendum may be unfamiliar, or even uncomfortable, for you. The first step is to spend time with your colleagues discussing the SJI Addendum and how it applies to your role and the mission of your department. You are encouraged to imagine this process as an opportunity for exploration and growth, instead of it feeling like a checkbox. If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to be in conversation with your supervisor about your SJI professional development goal for this next academic year.  

We are aware that not all staff within the division have been aware of the SJI Addendum. The expectation moving forward is that the SJI Addendum be included in your individual staff performance evaluations beginning this AY 2022-2023. The SJI Council has created a website with all the information you need, including the forms, timeline, and links to additional resources.  

If you have any questions about this process, please reach out to your supervisor or the SJI Council representative from your department, or send an email to  

University Unions (UU)

The Union welcomed Cindy Chestnut to our team in March as Dave Barnes' Administrative Assistant. If you stop by to say hi you're sure to get a friendly greeting and leave with a smile!



Student Life 

On April 9, Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council (IFC) held their inaugural Greek Day of Service. Fraternity and sorority members worked in three service sites in the local and surrounding communities. Thank you to Community Service-Learning in helping students plan and facilitate this event.



On April 10, Egg Hunt on the Row returned. This event brought out JMU and community folks to collect Easter eggs and candy from chapters along the row. Duke Dog made an appearance and a few actual bunnies got in on the fun. The Women's Basketball team partnered with FSL, Panhellenic, and IFC to play games and share some JMU giveaways with children and families. With more than 200 people in attendance, we would say this was a "slam dunk" of an event.

Student Life celebrated all of our student organizations at the Student Organization Awards and Recognitions Ceremony on April 13. We gave away 23 awards and $4,000 in scholarships to student leaders for their campus involvement. Many thanks to the individuals that helped review nominations and to Dirron Allen and Dr. Tim Miller for their assistance in celebrating our organizations. The full list of winners can be found on our website


The inaugural Purple Reign Concert and Carnival brought four bands, a DJ, inflatables, giveaways and food to the Festival Lawn on Saturday, April 16. The University Program Board worked tirelessly to bring outdoor music back to campus with great success and attendance.

April was in full swing for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. On April 26, we brought back one of our biggest community events—Greek Sing! Greek Sing is a lip sync competition with monies raised to support the Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. To get the FSL community into the spirit of the event and to determine the order of when groups perform, a food/supply drive of most needed items was held to support The Pantry. Over 10,000 items were collected. The top three groups collected between 1,700–1,900 items each. Dukes showed up and showed out to support their fellow Dukes! 

Through the end of April, organizations will continue to hold events to raise money for community and national service partners. BeYoutiful Week and the Festival of Gratitude sponsored by the Panhellenic Council are back with events that support local community organizations First Step and the Cinderella Project.

Counseling Center (CC) 

We are proud to share that our very own Paul Pohto was selected by Fraternity and Sorority Life as Outstanding Chapter Advisor of the Year for his contributions to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Congrats, Paul!

Counseling Extern Brittany Sehenuk successfully completed, presented and defended her EdS project entitled: “Integrating Creative Arts in Counseling: Review and Recommendations”. Congratulations on completing this significant accomplishment and all the best as you head towards graduation!

We would like to thank our JMU community for helping us to host our 10th annual Walk for Hope event at the Atlantic Union Bank Center this past month! We had over 400 people in attendance and Active Minds speaker, Greg Vogt.


Career Center (CC) 

The Career Center would like to congratulate Laura Yu Hickerson, the Associate director for Employee Relations here at JMU, for being awarded the 2022 Isabel Gordon Distinguished Service Award by the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers. This award honors those who have rendered a continuing and superior level of service and leadership to the Association.

University Unions 

Student Affairs Communications and Marketing (SACM) students were recently honored with these academic achievement awards:

An Cao, graphic designer in SACM, was selected by the School of Art, Design and Art History’s Honors and Awards Committee for one of the 2021-2022 Senior Achievement Awards in Graphic Design. This highly competitive award is given annually to undergraduate art and design majors who have shown outstanding accomplishments in their artwork.

Haley Gillespie, graphic designer in SACM, received the Samuel Page Duke Award. This award is presented to a junior with the highest grade point average after five semesters.

Both An and Haley have contributed significantly to our team this year. We'll miss An after graduation but are excited to have Haley lead our student designers next year!

Special Announcements

Counseling Center 

Please help us in congratulating staff clinician Katie Long and her family on their new addition! Nora Taylor Long was born March 3, weighing in at 8 lbs, 10 oz.

Conferences and Presentations

Office of Residence Life (ORL)

Residence Life's Kathleen Campbell and Emily Higham traveled to Asheville, NC in March for the annual Southeastern Association of Housing Officers (SEAHO) Conference. Emily presented on "Making SEAHO Connections" and finished her Governing Council term as Virginia State Representative to SEAHO.

Upcoming Events

JMU Libraries

May 11, Carrier Renovation: Virtual Info Sessions for Staff and Faculty, 3–4 p.m., on Zoom. Click here for more info.

Special thanks!

Thank you to everyone who volunteered at De-Stress Fest and and extra special thanks to those who volunteered to be pied in the face!

Casey Ouren, Myles Surrett and Steve Grande help student de-stress by volunteering to enjoy some pie!
Dave Barnes and Jen Grossman Leopard join in the fun!

About Community with Ideas

The masterminds behind the scenes.

Community with Ideas is your monthly newsletter.

We welcome all comments and suggestions. Please contact a Community with Ideas committee member to submit content, photographs or announcements. We look forward to hearing from you!


Marsha Mays-Bernard | AVP Liaison | 
Dawn Miller | Chair | 
Ann Simmons | Student Affairs Communications and Marketing (SACM) | 
Angela Ritchie | Student Affairs Communications and Marketing (SACM) | 
Eliza Moreno |Student Affairs Communications and Marketing (SACM)–GA | 


Ann Simmons | UHC |
Brent Lewis | Student Affairs Diversity Council |
Brittany Dioszeghy | Office of Disability Services |
Dylan Sorkin | Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices |
Daerenz Lyons | VP-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion |
DaNae Peterson | AVP-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and CELT |
Leslie Bailey | AVP- Health and Well-Being and AVP Student Life and Involvement |
Shae Powell | Student Life |
Dawn Miller | VP Student Affairs |
Dianne Nibblins | CMSS |
Emily Higham | Office of Residence Life | 
Heather Reid | UREC | 
Cassidy Mechalske | Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression Programming | 
Emily Blake | Library | 
Jill Staley Wade | Dean of Students | 
Lindsey Richards | Community Service-Learning | 
Mollie Zenz | Orientation |
Moriah Fallon | Counseling Center |
Tam Nguyen | University Career Center |

Photo contributions from JMU Creative Media