Beam me up, Scotty

If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’ve probably imagined what it would be like to be beamed up. While science hasn’t quite figured out yet how to disassemble our molecules, transport them through time and space and reassemble them, on a recent news report, one prognosticator speculated that we’re already there in a way. Through Skype, virtual office, webcasting, etc., we are all beginning to be beamed up — virtually that is.  With the click of a mouse, we can leap those old barriers of time and space. Sometimes, though, our virtual presence just won’t cut it. Sometimes, you just gotta be there. That’s a dilemma that JMU President Linwood Rose faces often. Last year his presence was requested at multiple inaugurations held by other colleges and universities throughout the country. So without the ability to be beamed up, Dr. Rose turned to others for help.

Numerous alumni — and one set of JMU parents — graciously agreed to step into the regalia of academe and stand in for Dr. Rose. Their willingness to do so not only assisted the president, but allowed James Madison University to be present to affirm the important role of leadership in higher education. So while it was impractical for Dr. Rose to attend every inauguration, the spirit and vivacity of JMU did go, embodied by individuals who know well what  JMU is all about. Here’s a sampling:

Jon E. Offley (’89) of Baltimore, Md., stood in for the president during the inauguration of Dr. David Wilson, the new president of Morgan State University. For Jon, service to the university is second nature. He is a former president of the Alumni Board.

Former Alumni Board President Jon Offley at Morgan State's inauguration.

Dr. Marcia Angell (’60) represented JMU at the inauguration of David P. Angel, the ninth president of Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Dr. Angell is a senior lecturer in global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, and editor emerita of the New England Journal of Medicine, the first woman to hold that position.

Moving west, Michael B. Hoss (’84) attended the inauguration of McNeese State University’s new president Dr. Philip C. Williams, in Lake Charles, La. Mike is a television reporter, anchor and interim news director at WWL-TV in New Orleans.

Paul M. Thompson (’80) stood in for the president at the inauguration of Kenneth W. Starr, 14th president of Baylor University. Paul,  an alumni board member, lives in Southlake, Texas.

Cheryl Asti Heimerman (’76) attended the inaugural ceremony for Dr. Elizabeth J. Strobel, the new president of Webster University in St. Louis, Mo.

Standing in for Dr. Rose at the inauguration of Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure, in Louisville, Ky., was retired Lt. Col. Mike McWright and his wife Andrea.

JMU parents Charles and Lane Witthoefft attended the inauguration of Dr. Christopher B. Howard, the 24th president of Hampden-Sydney College. Although Charles attended Hampden-Sydney, the three Witthoefft sons are Dukes.

Each of these individuals and the others who stood in for the president this year deserve our thanks for representing the university and for taking the JMU spirit all across the country. From Massachusetts to New Mexico, from Texas to New York, JMU alumni and friends stood up and stood in for JMU.

Look for more JMU inaugural stand-ins and their stories in upcoming issues of Madison magazine.


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to Beam me up, Scotty

  1. An Admirer says:

    Retired Army Lt Col Michael McWright is a credit to the U.S. Army and James Madison University. I hope he has left the employ of the U.S. Army by now and is applying his strong character and honor to a wider audience in order to truly “be the change” where there are those who are willing to listen to his message of integrity.


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