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The Presidential Commission on Diversity at JMU was created in the fall of 2003 to design a university blueprint for the enhancement of diversity that would be consistent with the institution′s mission. As part of the conversation on diversity, the JMU Faculty Senate, on October 2, 2003, endorsed the establishment of a high school program that would ″enable the opportunities for attending university of underrepresented and underserved Virginia students.″

Approved by President Rose, the Professor-in-Residence (PIR) program is an integral part of the JMU diversity plan and therefore consistent with the university′s mission.

JMU Defining Characteristics to which the PIR Program Contributes:

  • The university will be in innovative in programs and services.

  • The university will be a diverse community whose members share in, and contribute to a common JMU experience.

  • The university will serve our state, region and nation, and will be recognized on a national basis.

  • The university will maintain our heritage of nurturing and cultivating enduring relationships with its constituencies.

The PIR program is designed for the purpose of providing academic support to a select number of participating Virginia Middle and High Schools. Host schools are usually diverse, have a high percentage free lunch student population, and desire support for educating students and parents about post-secondary educational opportunities.

"We should all know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color." - Maya Angelou

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy" -MLK Jr.

Program Vision

PIR helps students to appreciate the importance of higher education and to understand that a college degree is possible and achievable. Read more about the program vision.

Role of the PIR

Faculty members serving as PIRs for the program serve in a selective role as ambassadors for the university and the academic division and must be approved by both the college and academic unit for participation. PIRs, their home academic units, and the PIR Program form a partnership in support of the university′s diversity goals.

Professors and Partner Schools

JMU has many dedicated professors and Graduate students, each representing a different discipline who are instrumental to the program. They spend at least one day per week visiting one of the partner schools. View partnering schools.

The program also has a relationship with middle schools in Virginia, helping students establish a plan for their future.

Science and Service Learning.

Programs for the Partner High Schools

Dual Enrollment - General Science Courses

Juniors were able to sign up for GSCI 150 taught by JMU's Dr. Cindy Kelvickis at Hugunot and George Wythe High School Students. The topic is ″How Life Works″ and students learn about human genetics, cell biology and infectious diseases.

This is a hands-on project-based class. An example of one of the class projects, students conduct research, design, film, edit, and produce video documentaries using Flip cameras and Windows Movie Maker. This is an eight-week course in which students also receive college credit for their work.

Purple & Gold Connection

A new program initiated at the Waynesboro High School whereby freshmen from their school were paired up with JMU freshmen as their mentors. Students from JMU's Social Work department and the Centennial Scholars Program were selected and paired up with these high school students for the year.

With the "Pay it Forward" concept in mind, they will spend time together working through some of the everyday challenges faced by students seeking to enter college. Workshops and presentation on study skills, organization and time management are attended by the mentor/mentee pairs.

Programs for the Partner Middle School

Virginia/DC FIRST LEGO League

Students from Lucille Brown and Thompson Middle Schools of Richmond participated in the 2009 FIRST LEGO League.

FLL provides students age 9-14 with an opportunity to challenge their math and science skills in an internationally recognized competitive environment. FLL combines a hands-on, interactive robotics program with a sports-like atmosphere. Teams of up to 10 players focus on team building, problem solving, creativity, and analytical thinking to develop a well thought out solution to a problem currently facing the world - the Challenge.

Each September, a new Challenge is unveiled to FLL teams across the world. Over the ensuing 8 weeks, the teams strategize, design, build, program, test and refine a fully autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMSTM technology. The robots are capable of completing various challenge missions in a "Robot Game". The teams also search the Web, talk to scientists, visit the library and develop compelling presentations based on the FLL "Research Assignment", which relates to the problem identified in the Challenge. In addition to the challenge, the teams are evaluated in two other areas; Teamwork and Robot Design.

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