HARRISONBURG — A survey of more than 200,000 current college students found that James Madison University students were more likely to recommend their school than students at any other college or university in the country.
The survey results were published in the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education’s 2019 U.S. College Rankings.
The survey asked students: “If a friend or family member were considering going to university, based on your experience, how likely or unlikely are you to recommend your college or university to them?” Students gave their colleges a score between 0 and 10 with 0 being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely.”
JMU received the highest average ranking, beating out Stanford, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M University and Covenant College, which ranked second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
“This is amazing,” JMU President Jon Alger said Friday during a presentation at the board of visitors meeting. “I think it speaks volumes to the nature of our university and says something about the quality of the faculty and leadership.”
Also at the board of visitors meeting, Alger gave a presentation on the public launching of the Unleashed campaign, a fundraising effort with a $200 million goal that officially kicked off during homecoming weekend in October.
Alger said the consulting firm working with the university on the campaign recommended a $150 million goal, but JMU “goes above and beyond.”
The private phase of the campaign brought in several large gifts, including $1 million from Joe and Pam Damico and $5.2 million from the Gilliam family.
The campaign will fund different areas of university life and academics.
The first goal is to offer more scholarships, both academic and athletic, as well as through the Valley Scholars program. Valley Scholars works with area middle and high school students to prepare them for college and offers a full ride following the successfully completion of the program.
“The No. 1 need is more money for scholarships,” Alger told the board.
The second area the campaign will help fund is advancing entrepreneurship and success at the faculty level, and research at the student level.
Funds will be used for building up the university in terms of building space with the College of Business learning complex currently underway, as well as the creation of makerspaces.
The campaign will also pay for new programs, such as Madison Vision, which provides mini-grants to faculty members. It will also fund the university’s civic-minded programs, such as the community service learning program and the newly created JMU Center for Civic Engagement.