The conference room in Festival that the meeting was held in was filled Friday afternoon. 

1. The future of JMU is national

This July, the sun will set on phase one of the Madison Plan, which unrolled in 2014. In its stead, the Board of Visitors will vote in April on a plan that spans from this summer until 2026.

President Jonathan Alger said he hopes the new plan will launch JMU to national university status “not just in reputation ... but in classification.” He said he aims to gain a Carnegie Classification of R2: Doctoral University, which means the school offers high research activity. Other schools that meet this qualification include Texas A&M University and Baylor University.

“This will happen,” Alger said. “It’s the natural evolution of the university.”

Alger said the JMU football team’s appearance in the FCS national championship last month for the third time in four years has rallied national television exposure.

Currently, JMU is listed as a regional university, but Alger said some students and parents “won’t even look at you” with that status.

“When you’re on that national level, there’s an assumption from students’ minds that you’re this comprehensive university that meets the bar or exceeds the bar across the board … and everything is exceptional,” Student Representative to the Board Norman Jones III said. 

2. Library books project funding

The JMU Libraries have received $150,000 from the Mellon Foundation Grant. JMU is planning to use the grant to support the Furious Flower Poetry Center in digitizing its African American poetry collection.

Governor Ralph Northam’s (D) 2020-2022 budget recommendations included reimbursing JMU $7,025,000 to renovate and expand Carrier Library.

3. School of Media Arts and Design students’ tuition may increase

The BOV will vote in April on a proposal to hike SMAD students’ tuition by $50 per credit hour next fall. The increase would result in those students paying an estimated extra $1,000 each year, generating $435,000 per year to hire faculty, upgrade technology and provide student support and financial aid.

The College of Business and School of Nursing charge similar differentials for their students.

4. BOV celebrates recognition for JMU’s online programs

JMU’s online Master of Business Administration program was ranked 15th nationally and the online nursing program was ranked 30th by U.S. News and World Report.

Alger said the honor is particularly “exciting” because hundreds of other universities also offer programs in those fields, and JMU’s are relatively young.

5. The consensus is college towns are “notoriously undercounted” in the Census

JMU partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to promote on-campus participation in this year’s decennial census. Alger said JMU is a national leader in working directly with the U.S. Census Bureau. 

JMU’s X-labs are researching challenges with the 2020 census locally and how to overcome them. One of those barriers is the misrepresentation of college towns because many students record that ‘home’ is in their hometown.

6. JMU and 11 other institutions chosen nationally to receive funding

The Beckman Scholars Program awarded $1.5 million in funding to a dozen universities. JMU made the cut.

This year’s award will benefit 61 undergraduate scholars at those 12 institutions.

7. New study abroad opportunity in the Dominican Republic setting sail

A recent visit to the Dominican Republic’s embassy in D.C. could lead to a study abroad program in Santo Domingo.

Representatives from the Center for Civic Engagement and the Center for Global Engagement are currently mulling over a study abroad option in the island nation and discussing civic engagement initiatives.

8. Powershift in General Assembly results in new higher education bills

Charles King, JMU’s senior vice president for administration and finance, reported several higher education bills shuffling along the capitol floor in his update from the General Assembly.

One bill states that DACA recipients qualify for in-state tuition regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Another seeks to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15. King said the university isn’t equipped to pay that amount to the over 500 student employees who work in UREC and the student employees working in other on-campus positions.

King also reminded the BOV to post any prospective tuition and fee increases for the next academic year at least 30 days before it votes on them in April, which is mandated by the state to warn students and provide an opportunity for public comment.

Contact Brice Estes at For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.