JMU — Madison Spring/Summer 2012
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Reflections
Jan Gilli s

Whether they served as president of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg, the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg, Madison College or James Madison University, the biographies of the presidents of this institution employ the same adjectives. Visionaries, builders, achievers and diplomats, their collective efforts over 104 years have resulted in JMU’s position of national prominence. Among the numerous commonalities, perhaps none is more pervasive than their investment in students.

Samuel Page Duke (1919–1949)

Samuel Duke was a builder on a number of fronts — expanding the school’s physical plant, increasing its enrollment and strengthening it academically. During his tenure the small normal school changed into Virginia’s largest teachers college, one he proposed should be named Madison College, honoring president James Madison “not only for his great work in the establishment of our Federal Constitution but also for his outstanding efforts in behalf of both popular and higher education.”

“Many of you may come to the college not knowing what you want. I trust, however, that everyone may find here such wise counsel and such well-planned opportunities that you may at least leave the college wanting what you know.”

Ronald E. Carrier (1971–1998)

Ronald Carrier (’98H) ushered in an era of growth and change that would see JMU receive acclaim as one of the nation’s finest comprehensive public universities. During his presidency, Madison became James Madison University, developed a major athletics program and added some 40 major buildings to a campus that expanded east of Interstate 81. Uncle ron” Carrier coupled his expansive vision with a clear emphasis on student well-being.

“The institution is responsible for establishing a climate of honesty and open inquiry, value-building, and self-inquiry for all of its students. This can only occur where the institution places its top priority on its primary reason for being — students.”

Julian A. Burruss (1908–1919)

Gifted with the ability to envision the future as well as organize the present, Julian Burruss made decisions that would have ramifications for decades to come. In 11 years he built a new school from which a major national university would emerge. Burruss maintained that the school should take the lead in education and encourage progress by giving its students an academic foundation that equipped them for the real world — an attitude that would be echoed by his successors.

“We believe that thought which does not function in action is largely wasted, that it is the duty of the school to teach its students to do as well as to think.”

G. Tyler Miller (1949–1971)

G. Tyler Miller was an education champion, coming to Madison after spending 20 years as a career educator. His administration revamped the curriculum, developing a full liberal arts program to join the teacher education program and gained authorization to award master’s degrees. Most significantly, he fought and won the battle to make Madison College coeducational.

“I should like for all students to feel that they have a ready welcome in the President’s Office and that a cordial reception awaits them there.”

Linwood H. Rose (1998–2012)

Linwood H. rose (’12H) galvanized the JMU community with the challenge to set the standard for a new kind of American university — one that offers the best of a small liberal arts college and the opportunities available at a large research university. Under his leadership, JMU solidified a position of national prominence, established itself as a leader in institutional performance measurement and put a new emphasis on private giving. He unified JMU around a studentcentered mission to prepare educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives. That vision became the heart of Madison even in the face of phenomenal enrollment and campus growth.

“When asked who influenced your life the most, former students never say the president. They name a professor. Rather than 10 buildings, $10 million, or 10 new programs, I would prefer to be responsible for creating the conditions for 10 faculty to flourish and to alter the lives of students they teach.”
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