Winchester native makes largest cash donation in JMU history

A Winchester native and John Handley High School alum made the largest cash gift in James Madison University of nearly $6 million dollars in March.

The gift was made from the estate of Frances “Tina” Weir, a 1949 graduate of then Madison College, and will support approximately $240,000 annually in scholarship funds in perpetuity.

After graduation, she joined the Army and made history with her service in the Women’s Army Corps.

She was the first woman to lead an all-male unit and is credited for paving the way for women military commanders of the future.

Weir reached the rank of Colonel in 1971 and was awarded numerous medals and stars including the Bronze Star for her achievement in ground operations against hostile forces in Vietnam in 1969 and two Legion of Merit Awards.

She passed away in September of 2023.

Her remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

To view JMU’s announcement on the donation, click here.

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BRAFB receives record setting donation

blue ridge area food bank

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank received a record donation today through a partnership between Perdue Farms and Feeding America.

A ceremony was held at 10 am this morning at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank headquarters in Verona to announce the donation of 80,000 pounds of frozen chicken breasts to the food bank and their partner agencies throughout the region.

During the donation, the organization highlighted the heightened need for food, especially in a Leap Year.

The food bank reports that 1 in 12 people, including 1 in 12 children, in the Blue Ridge area experience hunger and on a Leap Year, that creates another day families will need to put food on the table.

Across the country, Perdue Farms and Feeding America are donating over 70 tractor trailer loads of No Antibiotics Ever chicken totaling over 3.3 million pounds or roughly 2.75 million servings.

This is Blue Ridge Area Food Banks second large donation over the past month.

In February, the food bank received a donation of 30,000 meals from Food Lion’s Score to Give More program during James Madison University’s basketball games.

All season long, Food Lion donated 100 meals for each free throw made by the Dukes.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

JMU president Jonathan Alger resigns

James Madison University announced yesterday that President Jonathan Alger will step down from his role as president at the conclusion of the academic year to accept the same position at American University.

Alger served as president of JMU for 12 years and helped continue to grow JMU into its evolved level of national recognition as a student-centered research university.

Throughout his tenure, Alger was a prominent leader in higher education across the nation and world serving on numerous boards and committees.

Under his leadership, JMU increased external research funding by 92% from 2019-2023 and more than doubled the university’s endowment.

He was also an instrumental part of the athletic department’s transition to the Sun Belt.

In the coming weeks, the Executive Committee of the Board of Visitors will make a recommendation for an acting president then the search process will begin for the next president of the University.

To view JMU’s announcement, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

JMU’s Track and Field Director appointed to Team USA

James Madison University’s Director of Track and Field, Delethea Quarles, was appointed as the women’s jumps and multis coach for Team USA in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Quarles is in her second year at JMU after spending 25 years at the University of South Carolina.

Since arriving at JMU, she has seen her team set 49 top ten program marks and five school records.

At South Carolina, she led the Gamecocks to a NCAA national championship and two individual champions.

Following her appointment, Quarles said, “I’m most grateful and very honored to be selected to the USA Olympic coaching staff once again. It is by far one of the highest honors I have received to serve my country. I thank God for my family, mentors, and those great athletes who have supported me in reaching this pinnacle point in my career.”

She has previously served Team USA at the IAAF World Championships and the World Juniors.

To view JMU’s announcement, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VDOE approves JMU lab school

The Virginia Board of Education (VDOE) approved James Madison University’s Lab School for Innovation and Career Exploration in partnership with Blue Ridge Community College and
Rockingham County public schools.

The lab school will foster innovation, grant career exposure
to students, and serve as a preprofessional teacher development that sustains JMU’s teacher preparation and licensure efforts.

Governor Youngkin has $100 million funded to lab schools
through the General Assembly.

The VDOE is working with 20 more lab schools of higher education to open in 2024.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

The Sports Dogs’ Top 5 for 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, The Sports Dogs reflect on their Top 5 sports stories of the year.

For a full breakdown of Randy and Ryan’s Top 5, check out the latest Sports Dogs Podcast here.

Randy’s Top 5:

  1. The sale of the Washington Commanders from Dan Snyder to Josh Harris, Magic Johnson, and their group.
  2. The Orioles stun the MLB to win the AL East and over 100 games.
  3. The Bob Huggins Era comes to an end in Morgantown after using homophobic slurs on a radio interview and then arrested for drunk driving.
  4. Martinsburg High School secures their 10th WV state championship since 2010
  5. Alderson Broaddus, Randy’s alma mater, closes it’s doors in Philippi.

Ryan’s Top 5:

  1. The debut of The River Rivalry trophy for the Warren County-Skyline football game.
  2. Millbrook High School alum Nazeeh Johnson plays a crucial role in the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.
  3. James Madison University’s final transitioning year to the FBS features Top 25 rankings, College Gameday, and after threats of lawsuits and litigation, the first bowl appearance in school history.
  4. Local schools earn state championships including Clarke County girls’ soccer and basketball teams and James Wood volleyball’s second consecutive title.
  5. Skyline basketball’s 26-1 season featuring the school’s first state semifinal appearance, a regional championship, and Zack Diggs becoming the first 1000 point scorer in Skyline history.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

JMU ranked in “Best Colleges for Future Leaders”

James Madison University was named to TIME magazine’s “Best Colleges for Future Leaders” rankings.

TIME and Statista analyzed the resumes of 2,000 leaders in the U.S. including politicians, CEOs, and Nobel prize winners across multiple sectors to determine the list.

The top 100 schools also included Ivy League members with top law and business programs, large research and state flagship universities.

UVA and William and Mary also represented the Commonwealth in the rankings.

JMU President Jonathan Alger said, “A hallmark at JMU has always been our keen focus on measurable student outcomes. The fact that this new ranking found JMU alumni to be among the nation’s top leaders across sectors provides solid evidence that our focus on results is paying dividends for our graduates and for society.”

To view TIME’s full rankings, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Laurel Ridge partners with JMU to address teacher shortage

Used by permission by Laurel Ridge Community College

Laurel Ridge Community College is entering a partnership with James Madison University and Germanna Community College to give aspiring teachers a jump start on their degrees while still in high school and address the ongoing teacher shortage.

The Future Educators Academy will help students earn associate degrees while completing their high school advanced studies diploma.

Students will then receive guaranteed admission into JMU’s highly acclaimed College of Education program and can earn their bachelor’s degree within two years.

This opportunity will be available through both Middletown and Fauquier campuses at Laurel Ridge in the fall of 2025.

Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said, “All of the public school divisions in our service region are experiencing teacher shortages, and our rural school divisions are often hit the hardest. We are very excited to help meet that need by educating high school students who live and work in our region.”

For more information on the new program, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

RMA graduate named head men’s basketball coach at Salem

A Randolph Macon Academy graduate was named the new head coach of the men’s basketball program at Salem University.

Vincent Thibodeau was a 2009 graduate of the Academy.

He began playing basketball in 6th grade where earned the team MVP and was named team captain his senior year.

He spent time gaining experience at numerous levels of college basketball including a few stops in Virginia at the Virginia Military Academy and most recently as an assistant with James Madison University last season.

This is his second stint at Salem and he will succeed Brett Rector, who he worked under two seasons ago.

Athletic Director Alex Joseph spoke on the hire saying, “We’ve been fortunate enough to be in a position to hire what I think is one of the best young coaches in the game. We feel Coach Thibodeau will not only elevate our men’s basketball program, but he will elevate our entire athletic department.”

To view Salem University’s press release, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Youngkin asks colleges to flatten tuition

Ten Commonwealth colleges have answered Governor Glenn Youngkin’s request to flatten tuition costs this fall.

This effort attempts to help students, parents, and families impacted by inflation.

So far, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University and a few others have frozen their rates.

Some schools like Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary were not planning a tuition increase this fall.

The University of Virginia is the lone institution that refused the request citing a potential loss of $7.5 million to which Youngkin pointed out the school’s $2 billion budget.

Some schools are already planning to raise fees and cost of room and board next year.

Another plan includes a one time scholarship for in-state students to cover increases for next year while out-of-state and graduate students will pay an increased rate.

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