Quite enough

232328 The Quad in the Snow-1002Who knew that when we changed the background for this blog to the Bluestone and red-tile-roofed buildings of campus covered with snow that we were previewing a winter to remember — at least as far as goes the snow.

Here in Harrisonburg, we’ve had plenty. More than plenty. Enough to make even the most diehard winter lover long for spring. Enough cold to almost freeze Newman Lake. And (we can hope) enough sub-zero nights to kill the brown marmorated stink bugs that have proliferated recently.

It’s  been a winter to remember. A winter that forced the university to close for four days — a number not matched since the “Big Snow” of 1962. That year it was worse. Really. That year we had three feet of snow — a full meter up at Big Meadows. Local schools were closed for two weeks. And Anthony Seeger’s parking lot was cleared for military helicopters to land as they flew up and down the valley, rescuing stranded motorists. It was worse, but so what! That was then. This is now. We’re tired of winter. We’ve had quite enough.

wilson_snowWe all need a rest from snow and cold and wind, from chapped lips and cold hands. Students — many off on Alternative Spring Break trips this week, serving a multitude of communities  — are longing for walks across the Quad and hikes across Carrier Bridge from East Campus that don’t involve icy precipitation and winds that threaten to freeze their ears. It’s time for boots to retire and for Keens and Birks to emerge. We’re ready for change. It’s time for flowers to replace snowflakes. For blue skies and sunshine. Kites and beach towels. Tank tops and shorts.

It’s time.

So today — just in case there’s a correlation with our background picture and with a sincere wish for spring — we’ve retired our snowy reminder of winter at James Madison University. For good….or at least until NEXT winter.

What should come now?  What should the next background photo be? What campus image would you choose?

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Wilson in snow

Exam week is almost over. Preparations are underway for December commencement on Saturday. Students are packing up to travel home, and others are eager to graduate. Soon the campus will be quiet and empty.

Two snowfalls early in the week covered the valley and the campus, lending a little excitement for students who had never seen snow, like freshman Alyssa Berman (’17) from Florida. Her roommates rousted her out of bed, eager to see her reaction to her first snowfall. For others, the snow hinted at the holiday festivities coming and of the opportunity to see friends and family, and to rest for a few weeks.  For some, like Joe Balsamo (’15) and Chris Bell (’15), the snow was a reminder that Snowshoe or other snow-covered slopes were waiting for them at the semester’s end. For others, like Emily Thyroff (’14) from Rochester, N.Y., the snow — and especially the cold — just felt like home.

This is wrap up week. Professors are tallying final grades, and the roads leading away from campus are filled with departing students, going home from “home.”

For this blogger, this will be the last post of 2013. Already, though, I’m excited about some stories I’ll be sharing next year — like Emily’s trip to Australia and Joe’s research and Alyssa’s (and her friend Marissa’s) experiences with the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And I’ll be telling you about one young alum who was in the Phillippines during the recent devastating Hurricane Yolanda (Yes, Yolanda.)  All stories are about positive change. The best part of working on a university campus is the endless supply of interesting, energizing, engaging people. And this blog is theirs.

As we wind up the year, JMU’s Frank Doherty, director of Institutional Research and photographer, captured the snowy campus this week. Looking south from Burruss Hall, Keezell, Wilson and Maury Halls with their distinctive cupolas stand above the sparkle of lights on the quad.

It was too beautiful a photograph not to share……

Photograph by Frank Doherty

Photograph by Frank Doherty

Birdseye change

Photo: JMU department of photography

Photo: JMU department of photography

Almost 25 years ago, James Madison University was on the cusp of enormous growth. Enrollment had topped 10,000, and the campus was getting ready to expand.

The purchase of 110 acres across Interstate 81 from the original Bluestone campus (captured in this blog’s wallpaper) was poised to accommodate the growth. One after another, buildings went up and more and more students crossed the bridge over the Interstate and the tunnel beneath it to get to classes.

Today, that empty land is the university’s East Campus, pictured here in a recent aerial photo. It’s a thriving part of the university, providing a second campus with a second major library; a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly dining hall complex; residence and academic halls; the University Recreation Center and the Convocation Center; and a student and alumni center. From the air, it’s pretty impressive. From close up, it’s the home of the Colleges of Integrated Science and Engineering, the College of Science and Math, and the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

It was a change necessary to continue JMU’s upward trajectory toward becoming a university of distinction.

Color change

Few places display change more beautifully than JMU’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum— especially this time of year.  It’s a great place to visit now — especially with the Skyline Drive closed, the national forests barricaded and tension radiating from Washington like shockwaves. Now is a good time to take a walk, soak in the natural beauty, absorb a little peace.

The arboretum — opened nearly a quarter century ago — is tucked into the eastern edge of campus. It is a delight, a respite, an educational resource and more. From their website:

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is a 125-acre urban botanical preserve located within the city of Harrisonburg and the campus of James Madison University. It provides an ideal combination of naturalized botanical gardens (33 acres) and forest (92 acres), complementing each other and serving the purposes of research, teaching, and demonstration. This green space is home to a diverse ecosystem featuring native plants of the mid-Appalachians (woodland wildflowers, azaleas, and rhododendrons); a collection of non-native trees, shrubs, and bulbs (magnolias, Kousa dogwoods, hollies, daffodils, etc.); an Oak-Hickory Forest; a lowland swale; a shale barren; herb and rose gardens; a pond habitat; and a wetlands garden. An outdoor amphitheatre, terraced gardens, a Pavilion, a Monarch Way Station, and the Frances Plecker Education Center enhance the complex further.

More than anything, it’s a local destination. To visit JMU without a trip to the arboretum is to miss one of the university’s unique spots. It is the only arboretum on a public university campus in Virginia — a place full of walking trails, gardens and deep forests.

It is an exceptional VIEW of JMU, especially at this time of year. Take a look….

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To learn more: http://www.jmu.edu/arboretum/

The incubator

I was thinking about James Madison University’s campus this morning. Spread across a knoll in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, running down a hill, extending across an interstate and straddling Harrisonburg’s main street to the west, it’s a beautiful campus.

It’s an incubator of sorts, as well.

We think, create, formulate and design ideas here that will ultimately make the world a better place for many who will never set foot on campus.

I started thinking THIS is a place where change is created — but I like the idea of an incubator better. When people come to the university, many bring with them fresh ideas, like this year’s freshman class and the newest members of the faculty. Many ideas are created here, of course, but no matter how the ideas arrive, this is a place where they can simmer and heat up, a place where they can be poked and watched and examined and prodded. A place where ideas for changing the world can hatch, take flight — and eventually fly.

I thought it might be a great idea to showcase some of the physical campus, so I’ve added a new category called View JMU. You’ll find it in the top bar. Occasionally, I’ll post photographs of the campus. Especially for foreign and faraway readers of this blog (there are many!), it will give you a view of the place the James Madison University students, faculty, staff and alumni call “home.”

Today’s picture looks westward across the campus. The cupola of Wilson Hall and JMU’s distinctive red tile roofs of the original bluestone campus  are visible against the blue of Virginia’s westernmost mountains, the Allegheny range. This morning the campus is lush and green after a summer of abundant rains. Soon, though, it will begin to display autumn colors.

Any readers who also have great JMU campus shots that you’d like posted on this blog, send them to BetheChange@jmu.edu. And students, I’d love your help in populating this category. What image best conveys JMU’s campus?

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