Jim Acosta (’93), CNN Senior White House Correspondent
Jim Acosta graduated cum laude from JMU in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications (now SMAD) and a minor in political science. Recently, Acosta accepted JMU’s “Distinguished Alumni” Award. Acosta is known for his coverage of President Trump’s presidential news conferences. Personally, as an incoming freshman to JMU who was deciding between two Universities, Jim Acosta called me and encouraged me to come to JMU by telling me about his experiences at JMU in the media field. His personal phone call helped me make my decision to attend JMU and I haven’t regretted my decision one day since.
Lindsay Czarniak (’00), ESPN Anchor
Lindsay Czarniak graduated from JMU in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts & Design with a concentration in journalism and a minor in studio art. In 2015, Czarniak gave the commencement speech to the graduating class. Czarniak was also a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority at JMU and recalls skipping a function to prepare for a show segment for her practicum. According to JMU’s website, Czarniak said, “I remember choosing not to go to one of my Sigma Kappa functions because I wanted to prepare a segment for the show. That’s when you know you’re really hooked.” ESPN is a popular career path for JMU alumni. Lee Fitting (’96) is currently a producer for ESPN’s College GameDay.
Arthur Moats (’12), linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Arthur Moats graduated from JMU in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Originally, Moats came to JMU in 2006 on a football scholarship but left Madison in 2010 after he was selected in the sixth-round of the NFL Draft for his rookie season on the Buffalo Bills. He soon returned to complete his college degree. Moats went on to play with the Steelers as a free-agent in 2014. Aside from his impressive football career, Moats is also a big proponent for the University. In 2015, Moats made a $300,000 gift to JMU, which went toward supporting the Duke Club, the construction of the new Convocation Center and an endowed scholarship for JMU’s Studio Art program. Last year, Moats delivered the commencement speech to JMU’s 2017 graduating class.
G.J. Hart (’84), CEO of California Pizza Kitchen
G.J. Hart, whose last name you may recognize if you’re a hospitality student, graduated from JMU in 1984. Only one-year later, Hart founded California Pizza Kitchen in 1985. In 2015, Hart and his wife, Heather, donated $3 million to JMU to name the School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, the HART School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Managment. As a JMU student, Hart worked full-time at the nearby Shenandoah Valley Poultry Company. Additionally, Hart delivered the 2013 Commencement Speech to JMU graduates. According to JMU’s website, Hart said, “My hope for the School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management is to become a world-class program, a program where we turn out students who are going to do great things in the world and they are going to do it with purpose.”
Charles Haley (’87), NFL Hall of Fame, 5-time Super Bowl Champion
Charles Haley graduated from JMU in 1987. Haley, who was inducted into the pro football hall of fame in 2013, is one of two NFL players to be a member of five Super Bowl championship teams. Haley was selected during the fourth round of the 1986 NFL Draft for the San Francisco 49ers, where he soon became one of the top pass rushers in the league, helping to lead the 49ers to two Super Bowl Championships in 1988 and 1989. Haley went on to play with the Dallas Cowboys where he finished his career with three Super Bowl wins in 1992, 1993 and 1995.
Jennifer Morgan (’93), President of SAP North America & Asia Pacific Japan
Jennifer Morgan graduated from JMU in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in French. Recently, Morgan was named by Fortune as one of the “10 most powerful women to watch.” In 2016, Morgan gave the commencement address to the College of Business graduates. At JMU, Morgan was an active member of Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority. As a graduate of the College of Business, Morgan currently sits on the board of advisors for COB.