Today in the lovely valley city of Harrisonburg, VA, James Madison University will be kicking off Madison Days. Okay, it sounds a bit boring, but for those fellow Dukes who attended JMU, this event is an important one. Madison Days is the opening ceremonies for a year-long celebration of JMU’s (1908-2008) 100th birthday, which will end on the March 14, 2008.
In 1908 when it started as a women’s college, JMU was know as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg. Wow! What a mouthful! No wonder they changed the name. In 1924, the school became the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg. With assistance from College President Samuel Duke, the college name changed again in 1938 – this time to Madison College in honor of our third President and drafter of the Virginia and United States constitutions.
Before long the college started to grow and, in time, it started to allow men to attend and became a co-ed learning institution. In 1977, Madison College changed it name to what we all know it by – James Madison University. The transformation from a small woman’s teachers’ school to a full-blown university has been remarkable with special thanks to a handful of visionaries like presidents Duke, Carrier and Rose, and James & Althea Johnston, to name a few.
Today, the school is not only know for its fantastic colleges of Education, Integrated Science and Technology, and Arts and Letters (music), but for its award-winning Royal Marching Dukes band, the women’s basketball program (2007 NCAA berth), baseball and football. Speaking of football, JMU won the 2004 National Football Champions in Division I AA. The only school in the state with a Division I championship in football!!!
As you can see JMU is a great school with rich education tradition, fantastic campus life, and a top-rated athletic program that rivals any other school in the state. Oh by the way, the sleeping town of Harrisonburg is not bad either.