JMU Fundraiser Raises $251 Million – Virginia Business Magazine | Mobiz World

School’s Unleashed campaign surpassed the $200 million goal in March 2021

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October 21, 2022




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Catherine Schulte


James Madison University opened the $66.5 million, 115,000-square-foot Hartman Hall in fall 2020.  It is named for JMU graduate student James Hartman and his family, who donated $3.7 million for the business school's new academic building.  Photo by JMU Creative Media

James Madison University opened the $66.5 million, 115,000-square-foot Hartman Hall in fall 2020. It is named for JMU graduate student James Hartman and his family, who donated $3.7 million for the business school’s new academic building. Photo by JMU Creative Media

James Madison University’s second major fundraiser, Unleashed, raised more than $251 million, the University of Harrisonburg announced Friday.

The eight-year fundraiser, which surpassed its $200 million goal in March 2021, ended June 30. It began with an advanced fundraising phase in July 2014 before JMU made it public in October 2018.

Unleashed attracted 63,976 donors, approximately 37.4% of whom were alumni. The second largest donor segment was parents with 34.3%. Companies donated 2% of the total. More than half of the donors presented their first donation to the JMU as part of the campaign.

JMU allocates $97.3 million of the funds raised to general causes, $45.4 million to athletics, and $108.45 million to academic programs.

“We hope that people will find and see meaning in their giving [the] opportunity to make a difference that matters to them, and our donors basically told us they want to make a difference,” said Nick Langridge, JMU vice president of university funding.

During the campaign, the university received its largest cash gift to date, $5 million, from alum Paul Holland, a 1982 graduate, and his wife, Linda Yates. Madison Hall, which houses the Office of Admissions and the Center for Global Engagement, was renamed Holland Yates Hall in honor of the couple. Holland and Yates made the gift “to support scholarships, study abroad, entrepreneurship, and other initiatives that align with their personal passions and will impact many areas across campus,” according to JMU. They specifically wanted to rename Madison Hall, the university said, because the admissions office “represents the gateway to it JMU and the Center for Global Engagement is a passport to the world.”

The JMU has set “Opening doors for students” as the focus of the campaign. The university expanded its honors program into an honors college.

Donations to the Dukes Pay It Forward Scholarship program received nearly $6.2 million from a total of 2,180 donors.

The Valley Scholars program sponsors cohorts of students through junior high and guarantees them admission and free tuition and fees at JMU, provided they achieve the required grades in the required courses. Members of the first cohort will graduate in May 2023. Valley Scholars teaching and programming received $5 million from 1,435 donors.

Kathy Warden, Chairwoman, President and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp., and her husband Eric are JMU graduates. They launched the Warden Challenge and pledged to match gifts for Pell Grant-eligible student scholarships up to $1.25 million. More than 950 donors gave a total of $3.2 million to support 125 Pell-eligible students.

The university has completed several capital projects using funds raised from the campaign. JMU’s College of Business received more than $20 million. The school opened Hartman Hall in 2021 and renovated Zane Showker Hall to support team-based learning.

“Previously, our facilities did not provide opportunities for students to meet and learn in groups and teams. They sat in a circle with their teammates on the foyer floor trying to get their work done,” Langridge said. “Now our classrooms have team-based spaces and features,” including spaces that students can reserve.

In addition, the university received more than $13 million for the 8,500-seat Atlantic Union Bank Center basketball arena, which it opened in 2020.

Campaign funds released also supported entrepreneurship resources. JMU has established a minor in Entrepreneurship, and students of all majors can take advantage of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship.

Alumni couple Lara Parker Major and Eric D. Major, who met at JMU in the ’90s, donated $1.2 million to the College of Business’s Innovation, Collaboration, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICCE) Lab , now the Major ICCE Lab.

The majors formed medical device company K2M, which Stryker bought and privatized in 2018. K2M employed many JMU grads, Lara Major said.

“One of the things that was very important to us was to give back to JMU, to show our gratitude for having the opportunity to work with such outstanding graduates over the years,” she said.

Although no one served on the campaign’s steering committee, the majors served on their respective college boards.

“I think that was one of the things that was an unexpected pleasure for us to reconnect with JMU later in life,” said Lara Major.

Langridge credits the campaign’s success to the school’s growing and mature alumni base.

“The number of students graduating in a single year this past May is greater than the total number of graduates for the entire decade of the 1960s,” he explained. “We have grown significantly as an institution up until now [having] almost 20,000 students and a total of 22,000 students.”

Lara Major sees part of the campaign’s success in the increased awareness of JMU: “We are well on the way to national awareness and I think the campaign reflects that.”

This notoriety includes JMU’s 2022 Carnegie classification as an R2 Doctoral University, its rank of 72 on US News & World Report’s list of Top Public Schools 2022-2023, and its participation in the Sun Belt Conference.

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