Board of Visitors

President Alger (left) leads the Board of Visitors meeting on Friday. Topics that were discussed at the meeting included the impact of "College GameDay" on JMU, a summer tuition increase and the approval of the first JMU Honors College. 

The approval of JMU’s first Honors College was the main topic of discussion at the Board of Visitors meeting Friday. The board also approved an increase on summer tuition and fees.

As previously reported by The Breeze, the Honors Program will transition to a Honors College in July. It’ll accept the first cohort of freshmen in fall 2017, according to Brad Newcomer, director of the Honors Program. Newcomer began the efforts to upgrade to the Honors College in 2015.

“This is a big moment for JMU as we take the national stage and become that national model,” President Jon Alger said.

The Honors Program was initiated at JMU in 1961. The program now has over 800 students who participate in a four-year curriculum and complete a senior capstone project relating to their discipline.

“We have met these standards for many years so the transition is a very simple one,” Linda Halpern, vice provost of university programs, said.

Halpern emphasized that the creation of the Honors College would be a great recruiting tool. Honors students are more prepared to succeed in higher education, according to Halpern.

“These are academic all-stars,” Halpern said.

The transition provides faculty with the opportunity to host more interdisciplinary seminars, one of the focuses of the Honors College.

On summer tuition, the board approved an $18 increase for in-state undergraduate students and a $22 increase for out-of-state undergraduate students. In-state students will now pay $330 per credit hour for summer courses  and out-of-state students will pay $867 per credit hour.

There's no change in the tuition rates for in-state or out-of-state graduate students. 

In addition, there's a $1 per credit hour increase in the summer student services fee for all students — undergraduate and graduate, in-state and out-of-state. The fee is now $24 per credit hour across the board. 

There's also a $3 increase in board fees for all students, up to $110 per week. 

Last year the BOV approved a $12 increase on summer tuition for in-state undergraduates, up to $312 total per credit hour, and a $28 increase for out-of-state undergraduates, up to $845 total per credit hour. 

The University Innovation Fellows also presented their past achievements and future goals to the board. The group consists of 11 students who work to innovate learning at JMU. They emphasized the importance of experiential learning, cross-disciplinary collaboration and the ability of students to find resources available to them to pursue their goals.

“Our goal here is to create a movement, so we’re doing everything we can to catalyze that movement,” Chris Ashley, a junior economics major and member of UIF, said.

UIF is  offering free “Pop-Up” courses at the JMU X-Labs on non-traditional subjects such as 3-D printing and glass blowing.

“We want to continue this conversation — bring the board into this conversation — to let them know … What we’re doing from a student, grassroots perspective and also see what they think we can do to help them further their initiatives,” Ashley said.

Elsewhere, the board recognized Chris Hughes, a JMU physics professor for winning the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, which is the highest honor for professors in Virginia.

Board member Warren Coleman, chair of the advancement committee, announced that the university will hold its first JMU Giving Day, a 24-hour online fundraising event for contributions from students, faculty and alumni on March 15. The board hopes that this will create an incentive for people to donate to JMU.

The board also reflected on the impact that ESPN’s “College GameDay” had on campus this past fall. JMU received approximately $3 million worth of free media and 50 million views on social media from the event.

Alger expressed his thanks to everyone who helped to put the event together, especially the Facilities Management employees who made the Quad spotless just one day after hoards of students flocked to campus showing their support to the cameras.

“Most of the signs were fairly tasteful too,” Alger said, which brought a laugh from the board.

In addition, the board recognized the importance of having Lee Fitting, a JMU alumnus and senior coordinating producer of “College GameDay” leading the event.

“If you didn’t get to see it in person, you could have seen it on TV,” Coleman said. “That was great for our campus in terms of marketing.”

Contact Morgan Lynch at

Correction: A previous version of this article cited Brad Newcomb as the director of the Honor's Program. It is Brad Newcomer.