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Presidential Stories

The liberal arts and the ideal citizen

MVS Danielle Allen thumb

In the final Madison Vision Series event of the semester, Dr. Danielle S. Allen addressed the question, "What does it take to be an ideal citizen in our contemporary world and how do we prepare people for this?" In her presentation, titled "Participatory Readiness: On the Liberal Arts and the Ethics of Citizenship," she explored and defended civil society's need for people who are well-versed in the humanities in order to make sense of politics, our communities and the world.
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The growing size of data on the Constitution

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As the average American increases his digital footprint through email, calls and social media, and as the government is able to increase its data storage, a question of privacy and the reach of the constitution arises. At the most recent Madison Vision Series presentation Margaret Hu discusses technology, the role it can play in our governing structure, and how the Constitution holds up to these advancements.
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Today's world demands more from graduates
Dr. George Kuh, director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, visited James Madison University, where he shed light on the idea of lifelong integrative learning that stretches beyond the classroom. During students' undergraduate time, it is necessary for them to harvest rich learning experiences outside of the classroom in order to understand the competitiveness of today's economy.

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Apathy harms civic responsibility
JMU alumnus Russ Reeder, CEO of iCitizen, returned to campus to encourage students to redefine what civic engagement means in America. We all face a challenge to try and work toward a less apathetic community when it comes to civic responsibility.

Russ Reeder at MVS

Presidential Update: March 2016
President Alger brings us up to-date on the happenings at JMU with thoughts on creative thinking and innovation, how we will use this thinking to serve, the awards we have won and an upcoming celebration of James Madison, the man, during Madison Week.

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The James Madison University Board of Visitors met on Friday, Jan. 15. The board heard about a number of innovative programs, outstanding accolades and exciting events that have occurred over the past semester.

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Presidential Update - Welcome Back 2016
President Alger brings us his update about the happenings at JMU from a historic homecoming, academic achievements and the way JMU is engaging our students and the community at large.

Presidential Update - Campus Fall 2015
President Alger brings us his update about the happenings at JMU from a historic homecoming, academic achievements and the way JMU is engaging our students and the community at large.

Presidential Update - Alumni Fall 2015
President Alger brings us his update about the happenings at JMU from a historic homecoming, academic achievements and the way JMU is engaging our students and the community at large.

Presidential Update - October 2015
Homecoming 2015 is shaping up to be one for the ages. As if we didn—t already have an amazing lineup of events this week, the announcement that ESPN—s College GameDay will broadcast live from JMU on Saturday just adds to the excitement of the week.

After Spring Break Update - March 2015
As we get back into gear after a much needed Spring Break, I want to take a few moments to share news and achievements from a very busy semester to date.

Welcome - August 2015
As the 2015-16 academic year commences, I want to take this opportunity to update you on important news and information relating to our campus community. We have a lot to be proud of!

Lessig encourages a return to Madison's vision of a representative democracy
In a nation where private funding from wealthy donors fuels political campaigns, Lawrence Lessig told a Madison Vision Series audience on April 13 that equality--the kind that James Madison idealized--has now been forgotten.

Partnership instead of domination for a new way forward
Dr. Riane Eisler tells a Madison Vision Series audience that they can play a part in shaping the future she hopes for.

April 2015 Board of Visitors Update
I'd like to share with you some of the information that senior leadership presented to the Board of Visitors today as well as news from that meeting. Chief among this news are the achievements of our exceptional faculty, staff, students and donors.

Spring Update - March 2015
As we start Spring Break on campus after some challenging winter weather, I want to take a few moments to share news and achievements from a very busy semester to date.

Mastering the passions, leading for the common good
Michael Signer tells a Madison Vision Series audience that the country James Madison built was one based on mastering the "passions."

Michael Signer

Winter Message and Fall Semester Review
As we close another wonderful academic semester, we would like to share some news and events.

Spring Semester Welcome 2015
Happy New Year and welcome to another Spring semester. Let me share notable upcoming events and exciting developments.

Budget and Fall Semester Update
Well into the academic year, we wanted to share some budget updates as well as some highlights from exciting programs and events around campus.

Reconciliation through debate
The iDebate Rwanda team share how debate as a communication can achieve reconciliation, make an impact, and engage in civil discourse.

iDebate Rwanda - Madison Vision Series

Bill of Rights: 'What would Madison do?'
National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen told a Madison Vision Series audience on Oct. 16 that James Madison would have been a national leader in today's discussions on the U.S. Constitution, privacy and 21st century technology.

Jeffrey Rosen MVS lecture

The virtue of individual justice
Justice William C. Mims explains that justice is something we can strive for each on an individual level to improve our society.

From liberal arts to business: Fiorina shares life lessons
Given Fiorina's long list of accomplishments, it is easy to assume that she's always been successful and always had a plan. But, Fiorina debunked that myth by saying, "No success story is without its setbacks. No one who has experienced triumphs has done so without tragedies."

Welcome - August 2014
As the end of summer nears, we welcome you to a new academic year and share news on developments across campus.

"Return to Madison" remarks at Montpelier's birthday celebration
Good afternoon. Honored guests, members of the Montpelier Board of Directors, President Imhoff and Montpelier staff, members of the James Madison University Board of Visitors, faculty, students and alumni, family, friends and fellow Madison enthusiasts, it is my great honor to speak at this hallowed place.

Jon Alger's gives his remarks at Montpelier

Update Regarding State Budget - July 2014
As we approach the start of a new fiscal year, we wanted to provide you with a brief update on the state budget and its impact on JMU.

Spring Update - April 2014
As the academic year draws rapidly to a close, we wanted to share an update with you on recent developments at JMU.

JMU President Jon Alger

Presenting the Madison Vision Series
The Madison Vision Series will bring scholars, thinkers and leaders of all kinds to campus for lively explorations of issues facing our contemporary society.


Summer Update - June 2014
As we approach orientation and the start of the fall semester, we wanted to share an update with you on recent developments at JMU.

Student Success Center

Cast a giant shadow
President Alger asks alumni, donors and volunteers to help Madison live up to James Madison's legacy.


Celebrating Differences: Linking Disability, Diversity and Excellence
President Alger discusses disability and diversity, and their contributions to academic excellence.

Very modern Madison
"James Madison didn't just embody compromise, he built it into our system of governance."

An address to JMU and Area Arts Educators and Students
An address to JMU and Area Arts Educators and Students

Faculty and Staff Email Update - February 2014
As we prepare for the busy spring season, I want to share some quick updates on events and activities this semester.

JMU President Jon Alger

Welcome Back Update
Welcome back to a new semester at JMU! I hope that each of you enjoyed a peaceful and safe winter break. I want to share a few updates on recent news and developments.

JMU President Jon Alger

2014-2010 Strategic Plan email
The recent Board of Visitors meeting was the culmination of an 18-month long process of developing JMU's new strategic plan for 2014-2020.

End of Semester Update
As we approach the end of our first full calendar year together, I want to thank all of you for your extraordinary efforts to make JMU the best possible place to learn, work, and live.

President Alger poses with participants in the Leadership for Supervisors workshop on Nov. 20, 2013.

Fall Email Update
It has been an exciting and busy fall at JMU. At this midpoint in the semester, I want to share an update regarding some of our programs, initiatives and accomplishments.

President Alger at the Oct. 4, 2013 Board of Visitors meeting

Taking Compliance from Policy to Practice: Managing in a Sea of Change
"Compliance is an area of higher education law and policy that keeps college and university presidents up at night."

President Alger and Dr. Carol Geary Schneider celebrate value of liberal education
Dr. Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, discussed the importance of a liberal education system and JMU's place in it.

Carol Schneider and Alger

Dr. A.E. Dick Howard and President Alger launch Madison Vision Series
As part of the Madison Vision Series, Dr. A.E. Dick Howard spoke extensively about the U.S. Constitution's influence on international law, and provided snapshots of history in order for audiences to visualize American laws role worldwide.

Alger and Howard on September 17

Remarks on president's Election Day visit to Montpelier
Good morning. What an exciting day. And thank you for the wonderful tour of Montpelier this morning. One of the things that I really appreciate and am excited about today is the interdisciplinary nature of conversation. We have people who understand the science and the archaeology and anthropology and political science and history.

President Alger's visit to Montpelier Remarks

Broad reach of U.S. Constitution
Constitutional law expert Dr. A.E. Dick Howard took a JMU audience around the world on Constitution Day 2013 to illustrate the influence of the U.S. Constitution.

dick howard

Academic Year Welcome 2013 Email
I want to welcome you to the new academic year and share an update on activities and developments on campus as we prepare for classes to begin.  There are so many good things to share.

President Alger's Remarks At the Opening Staff Meeting

2012 Fall Madison Letter
As freshmen and the rest of Madison's student body dedicate themselves to learning in their courses this semester, I will dedicate myself to learning about James Madison University. Already, I know a great deal about this wonderful university. I can say with the objectivity of an outsider that the world has taken notice of JMU.


President emphasizes intergenerational learning
President Alger encourages more than 300 freshmen students, alumni and parents attending the legacy picnic to embrace a lifetime involvement with JMU.

President Alger gets ready to address freshmen, alumni and parents at legacy picnic

President Alger: "JMU is home"
Addressing university staff at the start of academic year 2013, President Alger spoke about the sense of community and family at James Madison University.

President Alger holds streamer that says "JMU is Home"

2013 June Board of Visitors Update
Every June, the James Madison University Board of Visitors holds its Annual Meeting and I would like to share some highlights from our meeting today.

President Alger sat on bench

2013 June Salary Increase
The Commonwealth's budget includes a 3 percent salary increase for AP Faculty. The Commonwealth funds 47 percent of the increase and JMU funds the remaining 53 percent.  I'm happy to report that our budget planning includes the 53 percent. 

Alger shaking hands

2013 May Semester Recap
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.

President Alger's Remarks At the Opening Staff Meeting

2012 Fall Semester Review Email
Thank you for a wonderful first semester. We spent our time together productively. While a multitude of activities occurring on and off campus represent real advances for JMU, I want to review nine specific items that I believe are among the most noteworthy from our first semester together.


2013 March Thank You Email
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.

Inauguration Ceremonial walk with marching bands

2013 March QEP Email Series
Here's a fascinating look at how The Madison Collaborative can make its way into nearly every discipline across the curriculum. You will enjoy hearing from your colleagues and your professors about how this intriguing and rigorous approach will work across the curriculum and co-curriculum.

The Madison Collaborative - Eight Questions

2013 January "Why Madison?" Update
We have held 33 "Why Madison?" receptions and meetings, both on and off campus, to come together and reflect collectively on our hopes, dreams and aspirations for JMU.

President Alger hears from members of the Madison Community

2013 Winter Madison Letter
So, you may be wondering, how? How do we elevate James Madison University to the status of a national model? The excellent leadership of the past, decades of thoughtful and dedicated work by faculty and staff members, and achievements of students and graduates year after year allow us to enter into a new phase.


President's keynote to Mad-Rush Undergraduate Research Center
"Liberal Arts and the Real World: Perfect Together." In line with this title, I believe a liberal arts education is needed more than ever in this age of information and technology. Just over a week ago, a liberal arts graduate who majored in political science and minored at Swathmore College was inaugurated as JMU's president.

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Opening staff meeting remarks
Good morning, everybody! I want to thank the Employee Advisory Committee for hosting this event. I thought, "Oh, this will just be a small group. We'll get together and have a nice conversation." And, here we are with a full auditorium. It is great to see the enthusiasm and energy here in this room.

President Alger's Remarks At the Opening Staff Meeting

Greater Madison Inauguration Week Breakfast
Greater Madison has undergone a metamorphosis over the last few years, and those changes continue. Now the role of Greater Madison will grow even more central to many of our efforts moving forward.

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Keys to the University at Court Square
The university's founding was welcomed as an important milestone in the town's history. A group of local citizens lobbied the General Assembly with the same gusto that is still evident in our community's work ethic today.

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Congratulations to Phi Beta Kappa Inductees
I can still remember back when I was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a student in Swarthmore College back in 1986. In fact, I still have my key after all of these years. I hope that yours will stay with you for the rest of your lives as well.

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Congratulations to "write on!" winners and honorees
I have been reading a lot about James Madison the statesman lately, also known of course as the Father of the Constitution and our country—s fourth president. Like you all, he was an avid scholar, reader and writer.

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Acceptance speech of JMU's sixth president
The James Madison University Board of Visitors unanimously selected Mr. Jonathan R. Alger to serve as the next president of James Madison University. "We desire a leader who values our student-centered focus, emphasis on teaching and is committed to the full development of the individual. We needed someone with an appreciation for the historical strengths of the University and one willing to invest time to understand our distinct institutional culture." said Rector Jim Hartman.

President Jonathan R. Alger's Acceptance Speech Splash Image

President Jonathan R. Alger's inaugural address
Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, public servants from state and local government, Rector Funkhouser, members of the Board of Visitors, special greeters, presidents and delegates from other institutions, faculty, faculty emeriti, staff, students, alumni, parents, community members, and special friends and family - good afternoon!

Jon Alger is sworn in as President of James Madison University

President Alger's speech to the Student Diversity Council
I am delighted to see this turnout of JMU business students. All of you from the business community and from across the university, we welcome you and we are glad that you are here to talk about something that I think is really important.

Speech to the Student Diversity Council

Greetings to the Class of 2012's Winter Commencement
Good morning, JMU family, and congratulations to all of our December 2012 graduates. It is a special honor and privilege for my wife, Mary Ann, and me to participate with you today in our very first graduation ceremony here at James Madison University.

President Alger Winter Commencement 2012

Forbes Center Presidential Listening Tour Event
The JMU Alumni Association, Greater Madison and the Shenandoah Valley Duke Club welcomed invited guests to the Presidential Listening Tour event at the Forbes Center, Thursday, Aug. 16.

Alger shaking hands