JMU Changes: Campus Expansion

When JMU was founded in 1908, its campus quadrangle (Quad) was situated along South Main Street in Harrisonburg,VA, and Julian Ashby Burruss was the first president of the university. The initial campus consisted of two buildings, known today as Jackson and Maury Halls. In 1916 the Quad expanded to include four more buildings. The buildings on the Quad are famous for their bluestone walls, white pillars, and red roof tiles.

Dr. Samuel Page Duke became the second president of the university in 1919 upon the resignation of Burruss, and during his administration nine major buildings were constructed.Dr. G. Tyler Miller became the third president of the university in 1949, following the retirement of Duke. During Miller’s administration, from 1949 to 1970, the campus was enlarged by 240 acres, and nineteen buildings were constructed.

Dr. 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, and more than twenty major campus buildings were constructed. The Convocation Center was built in 1982, and it was the first building constructed East of Interstate 81.In the late 1990s the College of Integrated Science and Technology (CISAT), the Festival Conference and Student Center, the Leeolou Alumni Center, several residence halls, and several athletic fields were added to the eastern part of campus.

In 1998 Dr. Linwood H. Rose took over for Carrier and became JMU’s fifth president. In early 2005, JMU purchased the Rockingham Memorial Hospital building north of the main campus.Additionally, the university has expanded across South High Street with the finalizing of the purchase of the former Harrisonburg High School building after initially leasing it for a year, operating it as Memorial Hall. JMU also purchased the dilapidated Howard Johnson Motel (the one next to I81) to house incoming students.
Today, the campus of James Madison University has 102 major buildings on 655 acres. The campus is divided into six parts: Bluestone, Hillside, Lakeside, Ridge, Skyline, and the Village. The university also received state and private funding to begin construction of a state of the art Performing Arts Complex near the quad in 2007. A second, $30 million library is also currently being constructed on the east side of campus, near the CISAT building.

Currently there isn’t much room for JMU to expand, and recently the Board of Visitors used eminent domain to make way for the new Performing Arts Center. I completely disagree with this tactic because eminent domain will create tension between the university and the city, destroy beautiful landmarks, and give JMU a bad reputation for being morally ignorant. What’s next, takeover WVPT – PBS’ local affiliate? Expansion efforts should be placed on renovating out-dated facilities and developing infill projects to conserve space. Why build more dormitories when the houses in the Village don’t have air conditioning? Why build more high-tech learning facilities when there are buildings on the Quad that still have chalkboards and lack computers? Why not replace the MODULAR TRAILERS next to the Convocation Center and softball field?

There are plenty of areas ON campus that can be used for expansion, and I think more bluestone buildings would add to the beauty of the school. When I come back in ten years as an alumni I want to be able to walk through campus and see the beautiful bluestone buildings against the autumn sky. I don’t want to have to take a 15 minute bus ride to make the trek across a campus that I don’t recognize anymore.


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