James Madison University

"JMU" redirects here. For other uses, see JMU (disambiguation).
For the public-policy college at Michigan State University, see James Madison College.
James Madison University
Motto Knowledge is Liberty
Type Public
Established 1908
Endowment $81.9 million (2015)[1]
Budget $523.8 million[2]
Chancellor Ronald E. Carrier
President Jonathan R. Alger
Academic staff
Students 20,858[3]
Undergraduates 19,144[3]
Postgraduates 1,711[3]
Location Harrisonburg, Virginia, U.S.
Campus Small city, 721 acres (2.92 km2)
Colors Purple and gold
Athletics NCAA Division ICAA
Nickname Dukes
Mascot Duke Dog
Affiliations SURA, SCHEV
Website www.jmu.edu

James Madison University (also known as JMU, Madison, or James Madison) is a public coeducational research university located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States. Founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, the institution was renamed Madison College in 1938 in honor of President James Madison and then James Madison University in 1977.[4] The university is situated in the Shenandoah Valley, with the campus quadrangle located on South Main Street in Harrisonburg.


Aerial view of campus from 1937, showing the original campus plan, prior to major expansions of the campus

Founded in 1908 as a women's college, James Madison University was established by the Virginia General Assembly. It was originally called The State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg. In 1914, the name of the university was changed to the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg. At first, academic offerings included only today's equivalent of technical training or junior college courses; however authorization to award bachelor's degrees was granted in 1916. During this initial period of development, the campus plan was established and six buildings were constructed.[5]

The university became the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg in 1924 and continued under that name until 1938, when it was named Madison College in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States whose Montpelier estate is located in nearby Orange, Virginia. In 1976, the university's name was changed to James Madison University.[5]

The first president of the university was Julian Ashby Burruss. The university opened its doors to its first student body in 1909 with an enrollment of 209 students and a faculty of 15. Its first 20 graduates received diplomas in 1911.[5]

In 1919, Julian Burruss resigned the presidency to become president of Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Samuel Page Duke was then chosen as the second president of the university. During Duke's administration, nine major buildings were constructed.[5] Duke served as president from 1919 to 1949.

In 1946, men were first enrolled as regular day students. G. Tyler Miller became the third president of the university in 1949, following the retirement of Samuel Duke. During Miller's administration, from 1949 to 1970, the campus was enlarged by 240 acres (0.97 km2) and 19 buildings were constructed. Major curriculum changes were made and the university was authorized to grant master's degrees in 1954.[5]

In 1966, by action of the Virginia General Assembly, the university became a coeducational institution. Ronald E. Carrier, JMU's fourth president, headed the institution from 1971 to 1998. During Carrier's administration, student enrollment and the number of faculty and staff tripled, doctoral programs were authorized, more than twenty major campus buildings were constructed and the university was recognized repeatedly by national publications as one of the finest institutions of its type in America. Carrier Library is named after him.[5]

21st century

During the first decade of the 21st century, during the administration of JMU's fifth President Linwood H. Rose, the university continued to rapidly expand, not only through new construction east of Interstate 81, but also on the west side of campus. In early 2005, JMU purchased the Rockingham Memorial Hospital campus just north of the main JMU campus for over $40 million. The hospital has since moved to a new location, and JMU now occupies the former hospital site after having made substantial renovations to the previous hospital campus.[6] Additionally in June 2005, the university expanded across South High Street by leasing the former Harrisonburg High School building from the City of Harrisonburg. In May 2006, the university purchased the property.[7] The sale was approved in June 2005 for $17 million.[8][9] The university named the old HHS building Memorial Hall.[10] Recently completed projects include the Rose Library located on the east side of campus, which opened on August 11, 2008. The John C. Wells Planetarium, first opened in 1974, underwent a $1.5 million renovation in 2008. It is now a state-of-the-art hybrid planetarium, the only one of its kind in the world. The mission of the JMU Planetarium is science education and public outreach. As such, it offers free shows to the public every Saturday afternoon and hosts annual summer space camps in July. The 175,000-square-foot (16,300 m2) Forbes Center for the Performing Arts opened in June 2010, and serves as the home to JMU's School of Theatre and Dance. It also provides major performance venues and support spaces for the School of Music, and the administrative office for the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The rapid expansion of JMU's campus has at times created tension in the city-university relationship.[11] In 2006, the local ABC affiliate reported that the university had nearly doubled in size in the last 20 years,[12] including purchases of several local properties.[13][14]

The university has also experienced tension with local residents with occasional clashes between local police and students at a popular off-campus block party. In 2000, the party with about 2,500 students grew out of hand and required a police presence at the Forest Hills townhouse complex on Village Lane.[15] Ten years later, police equipped with riot gear used force to disperse a group of 8,000 college-aged individuals at the party.[16][17][18] Several participants were airlifted to a medical center in Charlottesville to treat their injuries.[19] The university has condemned the behavior of the block party attendees.[20]


Wilson Hall, centerpiece of the JMU quadrangle

James Madison University is considered "More Selective" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For the Class of 2012, the university received more than 22,648[21] applications, for an entering freshmen class of 4,325 for the 2012–2013 academic year.[22] The retention rate for the 2011–2012 freshman class was 91.4%, and the ratio of female to male students is 60/40. Approximately 38% of all students are from out-of-state, representing all 50 states and 89 foreign countries.

Currently, James Madison University offers 115 degree programs on the bachelor's, master's, educational specialist and doctoral levels. The university comprises seven colleges and 78 academic programs. The university includes the College of Arts and Letters; the College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Health and Behavioral Studies; the College of Integrated Science and Engineering; the College of Science and Mathematics; the College of Visual and Performing Arts; and The Graduate School. Total enrollment beginning the Fall 2012 academic year was 19,927; 18,392 undergraduates and 1,820 graduate students. JMU granted 4,908 degrees in 2012; 4,096 undergraduate degrees, and 812 graduate degrees.

On October 2, 2009, James Madison University was granted a chapter by the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.[23] Only about 10 percent of the country's colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. James Madison University's Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi was the first academic honor society chartered at JMU. The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi (or simply Phi Kappa Phi or ΦΚΦ) is an honor society established in 1897 to recognize and encourage superior scholarship without restriction as to area of study and to promote the "unity and democracy of education".


Keezell Hall, home of the university's English and Foreign Language departments

On June 24, 2004, the Board of Visitors approved the Madison College Proposal, which created the College of Visual and Performing Arts out of the College of Arts and Letters. The new College of Visual and Performing Arts includes the School of Art, Design and Art History, the School of Music, the School of Theatre and Dance, and the Madison Art Collection. Approximately 1,200 students are enrolled in the college, and the Master of Fine Arts degree offered by the School of Art, Design and Art History is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

On January 9, 2007, a new School of Engineering was approved by the Virginia higher education governing body.[24] The school began accepting undergraduates in Fall 2008. The program's focus is sustainability with a major emphasis on the environmental sciences. The School of Engineering offers general engineering degrees with no specializations.


University rankings
Forbes[25] 174
U.S. News & World Report[26] 7
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[27] 68

U.S. News & World Report ranked JMU as the No. 2 public masters-level university in the South (7th overall) for 2016.[28] In the 2015 edition of the Washington Monthly college rankings, JMU ranked 68th among master's universities. Washington Monthly assesses the quality of schools based on social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).[29]

JMU's College of Business was ranked 40th among the undergraduate business programs in the U.S. by BloombergBusiness in 2014.[30] The university is also ranked 21st in value in the nation among public colleges and universities, according to Kiplinger magazine's 2015 "100 Best Values in Public Colleges".[31] JMU ranked 15th among all undergraduate business schools in the country for return on investment, according to BloombergBusiness in 2013.[32]


Newman Lake

The campus of JMU originally consisted of two buildings, known today as Jackson and Maury Halls. Today, the campus of James Madison University has 148 major buildings on 721 acres (2.92 km2).[33] The campus is divided into five parts: Bluestone, Hillside, Lakeside, Skyline, and the Village.[34] The Skyline area is located on the east side of Interstate 81, while the Bluestone, Hillside, Lakeside, and Village areas of the campus are located on the west side. The two sides of campus are connected both by a bridge over, and a tunnel (Duke Dog Alley) underneath, Interstate 81.[35] Other unique features on the campus include Newman Lake, a 9.7-acre (39,000 m2) body of water located in the Lake Area next to Greek Row and Sonner Hall,[36] and the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, a 125-acre urban botanical preserve located within the city of Harrisonburg and the campus of James Madison University (JMU). The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum combines naturalized botanical gardens (33 acres) and forest (92 acres), and is the only arboretum on a public university campus in Virginia.

The original, historic "Bluestone" side of campus is situated on South Main Street (also known as U.S. Route 11, and historically as "The Valley Pike"). Since the late 1990s the campus has expanded both east and west of the Bluestone area. Towards the east, across Interstate 81, the expansion has included The College of Integrated Science and Technology (CISAT), the University Recreation Center (UREC), the Festival Conference and Student Center, the Leeolou Alumni Center, several residence halls, the Chemistry and Physics Building, and University Park, which opened in 2012 off of Port Republic Road, combining recreational and varsity athletic fields. The Rose Library, completed in August 2008, serves as a repository of science and technical material.[37]

Several new construction projects on the campus of James Madison University were included in Governor Tim Kaine's $1.65 billion higher education bond package. Governor Kaine's proposal designated more than $96 million for JMU projects. Among the projects included were the construction of a new biotechnology building, Centennial Hall ($44.8 million) and the renovation and expansion of Duke Hall ($43.4 million). The proposal also included $8.6 million as the final installment payment for the purchase of Rockingham Memorial Hospital.[38] Beginning in 2002 JMU began receiving state and private funding to construct a state-of-the-art performing arts complex. The facility is located opposite Wilson Hall across South Main Street, and serves to visually complete the Main Quad. It was named "The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts" in honor of Bruce and Lois Forbes who provided a gift of $5 million towards the project. The wing of The Forbes Center dedicated to theater and dance is named the "Dorothy Thomasson Estes Center for Theatre and Dance" in honor of a $2.5 million gift by the husband of Dorothy Estes. The wing dedicated to music is named the "Shirley Hanson Roberts Center for Music Performance" in honor of a multimillion-dollar gift from the husband of Shirley Roberts. The entire PAC was built at a total cost exceeding $92 million, and opened in June 2010 to house academic offices and performances by the Schools of Theatre, Dance and Music, and the administrative offices of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.[39]

Wilson Hall is the centerpiece of the university's main quadrangle. It contains an auditorium, administrative offices, and the Community Service Learning Office. The building's cupola has been featured on the university logo, letterhead, and other university stationery and postcards. Completed in 1931, the building was named after President Woodrow Wilson, who was born in nearby Staunton, Virginia.

Bus service around campus and the city is provided by the Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation.

Student life

Students on the James Madison University quad

The Princeton Review also recognized James Madison as one of 81 schools in America "with a conscience", and in the latest year ranked JMU second in the nation behind only the University of Virginia in the number of Peace Corps volunteers it sent from its student body among "medium-sized" universities.[40] And in 2010, the food at JMU was ranked third in the United States.[41] In 2011 the student body was ranked 20th happiest in the entire nation by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.[42] In 2009, Playboy ranked JMU as the 22nd Best Party School in the nation. These rankings take into consideration the surrounding area's activities, academics, as well as the social scene on campus.

The school has 35 residence halls, ten of which serve as sorority houses.[43] While most residence halls are only for housing, several halls also provide auxiliary services. For example, Chandler Hall, located in the Lake area, offers a basement dining facility and a computer lab.[44] All freshmen must live on campus, and a large portion of JMU's on-campus housing is set aside for incoming students. Consequently, most upperclassmen and graduate students live off campus. Continuing students who wish to live on campus must re-apply for housing each year. While occasional exceptions are granted, generally freshmen are not granted on-campus parking permits.[45] Some JMU halls are set-aside as specialized living and learning residential communities. Shenandoah Hall is devoted as an Honors residential experience, Chesapeake Hall is for pre-professional health disciplines, Gifford Hall includes the Roop Learning Community for future teachers, and Wayland Hall is reserved for majors in the art disciplines.

Clubs and organizations

James Madison University has over 350 clubs and organizations for students to choose from. The goal is to provide students with a unique experience while creating a giving community throughout the university.[46]

Marching Royal Dukes

James Madison University has the largest collegiate marching band in the nation, with 450 members as of Fall 2015. Nicknamed "Virginia's Finest", the Marching Royal Dukes have performed at venues such as the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the NFC title game between Washington and Dallas in 1983, Bands of America Grand National Championships in 1988 and 1991. The band has made three appearances in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, first in 2001, again in 2008, and most recently in 2013. In the past decade, the band has taken trips to Europe during the school's winter break, featuring Athens, Dublin, Monocco, London, and Rome.[47] In the most recent trip to Europe, the MRD's participated in the 2015 Italian New Year's Day Parade in the Vatican.

Speech Team

The James Madison Speech Team has been recognized by AFA-NIET as one of the top 20 intercollegiate speech teams in the nation. JMU Forensics is the only program in the nation directed by two recipients of AFA's most respected coaching awards: Distinguished Service and Outstanding New Coach.[48]

The Breeze

The Hellfish logo, found on team jerseys, discs, and other apparel.

The Breeze is a student-run newspaper serving James Madison University since 1922. Since then, the newspaper has provided news and information to the university community. The Breeze publishes 9,500 copies every Monday and Thursday and maintains an online website, mobile app and a Twitter and Facebook page. The Breeze publishes local news, a life section, sports and an opinion section during the academic year. The Breeze has been nominated and won numerous awards during its existence including a 2012 Online Pacemaker Award, 2012 VPA award for Best in Show for a Non-Daily News Presentation, and a 2012 VPA sweepstakes award. The Breeze is also known to all JMU alumni and current students for having the long-standing tradition of publishing Darts & Pats.

Men's Club Ultimate

The JMU Men's Ultimate team, the Flying Hellfish, was founded in 1997 by Rohit Setty and Rob Knapik.[49] The team is named after the Simpsons episode 22, season 7, "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'"[50][51] Since 2005, the team has hosted an annual tournament known as "The Hellfish Bonanza," which attracts between 12 and 16 teams from across the east coast.[50] Several current and former Hellfish play Ultimate professionally for Major League Ultimate's Washington DC Current, including Lloyd Blake, Ben Fleming, Eric "Astro" Minor,[52] Andrew "Peanut" Ferraro, and Matthew "Cam" Barnhardt.[53]


The ISAT/CS Building, on the east side of campus

Board of Visitors

Like all public universities in Virginia, James Madison is governed by a Board of Visitors appointed by the Governor of Virginia.[54] In addition to the 15 members appointed by the governor, the speaker of the Faculty Senate and an elected student representative serve as representatives for the faculty and the student body respectively. The appointed members serve for a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms, while the student representative is limited to two one-year terms. The faculty representative serves for as long as he or she remains the speaker of the JMU Faculty Senate.[54]


Main article: Jonathan R. Alger

Jonathan R. Alger is the sixth and current president of the university. Before being named president, Alger served as the senior vice president and counsel at Rutgers University.[55]

Past presidents


James Madison Athletics wordmark
Main article: James Madison Dukes

James Madison University's athletic teams are known as the "Dukes." An English bulldog, with crown and cape, and the Duke Dog, a gray bulldog costume in a purple cape and crown, serve as the school's mascot. The "Dukes" nickname is in honor of Samuel Page Duke, the university's second president. The school colors are royal purple and gold. Madison competes in the NCAA's Division I (Football Championship Subdivision for football), the Colonial Athletic Association, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference.[56] Over 415 varsity athletes compete in football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis, women's swimming and diving, women's volleyball, baseball, women's lacrosse, field hockey, men's and women's golf, women's cross country and track and field, and softball. James Madison's two national championships are tied for third most national titles by a college or university in Virginia. James Madison's baseball team advanced to the College World Series in 1983, becoming the first Virginia school to do so. The JMU women's field hockey team won the university's first national title in 1994. JMU football won the NCAA Division I-AA national title in 2004, with a 13–2 record, and are the only team in history to win the title after playing four straight road playoff games. Since 2004, the JMU football team has appeared in the playoffs in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2015.

James Madison University invested heavily in new athletic facilities throughout the tenure of President Linwood Rose. JMU built a new multimillion-dollar baseball and softball field complex that opened in 2010. Additionally, after the last football game of 2009, the university began an expansion of Bridgeforth Stadium that increased seating capacity to approximately 25,000. Construction was completed in time for the 2011 football season.[57]

In 2012, the James Madison Women's Basketball team won a club record 29 games, and advanced to the WNIT National Championship game, where it lost to Oklahoma State University. The Lady Dukes defeated Wake Forest, Davidson College, Virginia, South Florida and Syracuse prior to falling to Oklahoma State. In 2013, head coach Kenny Brooks led his team back to the WNIT defeating NC A&T, NC State, and Fordham before falling to the Florida in the tournament's quarterfinals. In 2014, the Lady Dukes posted an overall 29–6 record that culminated with a 85–69 loss to Texas A&M University in the NCAA Championship Round of 32. This marked the ninth consecutive year that the Lady Dukes participated in postseason play and the program's ninth consecutive season with 20 victories, a school record.

In 2013, James Madison University's Men's Basketball team won the CAA championship title for the first time since 1994. The Dukes then won their first NCAA tournament game in 30 years, defeating Long Island University-Brooklyn. The Dukes fell to Indiana in the second round, 83-62, finishing the season with a 21–15 record.[58]

John C. Wells Planetarium

James Madison University is home to the John C. Wells Planetarium. The planetarium first opened at JMU in 1956 under the direction of Dr. John C. Wells, head of the Physics Department. The facility was then moved to Miller Hall and renovated in 1975, later named in honor of Wells on the occasion of his retirement in 1980.[59]

The planetarium seats 72 individuals within a 30-ft dome. It features a GOTO Chronos star projector together with Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5 digital projectors.[60] The John C. Wells Planetarium also employs students enrolled at James Madison University to operate the system and host shows to the public.



In the early years of the Miller Hall Planetarium, not yet named after Dr. John Wells, all laboratories in the General Studies astronomy course met in the planetarium as well as other astronomy classes such as "Controversies in Astronomy" and "Planetary Astronomy".[59] As the Planetarium grew older, it began scheduling astronomy instruction for off-campus groups. The planetarium also hosts regular public shows and special events such as Starry Nights Harrisonburg, Space Explorers Camp, and Bad Science Movie Nights as well.[61]

Notable alumni


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