James Madison University was founded in March of 1908 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly as a women’s school for training teachers. The school became coed in 1946.
Between 1949 and 1970 campus infrastructure rapidly expanded to accommodate the growing student body. JMU also adopted its name during that period, having previously been known as the State Normal Industrial College for Women, Madison College, and various other titles.
James Madison University sits on 655 acres outside of Harrisonburg, VA. The grounds provide plenty of grassy, open space for students to hang out and enjoy the sun.
The campus is split into six separate areas – Bluestone, Hillside, Lake, and Village on the west side of Interstate 81 and Ridge and Skyline on the east side. People can cross the highway to access areas on either side via a bridge or tunnel. Generally speaking, the older center of campus is around Bluestone, where the main quad is located, and the campus was originally contained on the west side of the highway.
Two notable features on campus are Newman Lake, in the Lake area, and the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. There are more than 100 buildings on the JMU campus.
Harrisonburg, VA, is a small city, and of the 40,000 or so residents, many are JMU students. JMU’s rapid expansion over the past few decades has somewhat soured relations between locals and university people. But there’s still plenty going on in Harrisonburg. Students may find themselves in the newly renovated downtown district for restaurants like Dave’s or Kline’s, a local ice cream store.
As for nightlife, students tend to stay on campus, attending fraternity parties, for example.
Rumor has it that if you kiss on the Kissing Rock (where students used to sneak out before the school became coed) at sunset, you’ll be with the person you kiss forever.
Jim Acosta (1993) is a correspondent for CNN.
Gary Clark (1982) is a former NFL wide receiver with the Washington Redskins, Phoenix Cardinals, and Miami Dolphins,
Barbara Hall (1982) is a television writer and producer involved with such shows as Northern Exposure and Judging Amy. Hall also created Joan of Arcadia.
Karen McCullah Lutz (1988) is a screenwriter of movies such as Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You.
Phil Vassar (attended) is a country music singer.
The James Madison Dukes compete at the Division I level of the NCAA and in the Colonial Athletic Conference and Eastern College Athletic Conference. School spirit at JMU runs high, and the teams do rather well to keep up with the enthusiasm.
Current head football coach, Mickey Matthews, has a record of 64-44-0, and last year the team went to playoffs against Appalachian State. Bridgeworth Stadium, where the James Madison Dukes play football, is also undergoing a $10 million renovation and expansion to keep up with its popularity.
Other popular teams include men’s and women’s basketball, the latter of which has an all-time record of 779-447-5, and baseball, which recently won their first NCAA Championship.
JMU’s mascot, Duke Dog, is supposed to be modeled on the kind of dog that a duke might own. For good measure, he wears a royal purple cape and a crown.
The Joan of Arc statue in the library is an exact replica of Jeanne d’Arc, which is housed in the Louvre.
There is a series of tunnels under the campus, some big enough to allow for pedestrian traffic. Usually they’re locked to everyone but JMU service technicians, but every year there are rumors of some students getting in somehow.
Residence halls are usually referred to not by buildings, but by areas: the Village, Lake, Skyline, Hillside, and Bluestone.
The Village has nine residence halls and is located in the center of campus. Most dorms in the Village are inhabited strictly by freshmen because it’s closer to most parts of campus (an important feature when you have many of your classes chosen for you). The halls are all similar in design, of six-person suites with a common room. Each floor is made up of four suites (24 people in total) with two shared bathrooms. Students generally like The Village, despite its lack of air conditioning, because it makes it very easy to get anywhere on campus with a short ten minute walk.
The Lake dorms include the Tree Houses, Eagle, and Shorts. These dorms are a great place to meet new people, as they are set up in halls rather than suites. Many business students also choose this dorm area, since Showker, the business school, is located nearby. Mrs. Greens and Lakeside Express, two dining halls, are very close for those students.
Skyline Halls, Chesapeake and Potomac, are located near ISAT/HHS, Festival, and the new library. The dorms on this side of campus are only a few years old. There are four lounges on each floor, each with a different purpose such as a quiet study, group study, and TV lounge. Chesapeake and Potomac are half freshmen and sophomore.
Hillside area is all freshmen and is close to Dukes and Top Duke (two good options for on-campus food). Hillside consists of three separate dorms: Bell, Hillside, and McGraw-Long. Bell is a substance-free hall, and students wishing to live there, have the option to choose it during the summer.
Lastly, the Bluestone area encompasses eight residence halls on or surrounding the Quad. These dorms are set up in a traditional hall style with study and TV lounges interspersed throughout.