Whether it was Madison College or James Madison University when they attended, many alumni and current students alike agree that Madison gave them an experience unlike any other. In honor of Homecoming, here’s a post dedicated to all the ways JMU has evolved throughout the years. No matter your class year, we hope JMU still feels like home.

JMU started out in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg. Campus encompassed about 50 acres, with only two buildings: Jackson and Maury. Enrollment was 150 students, with 15 faculty members. In 1914, the name of the institution was shortened to State Normal School for Women; it was renamed again in 1924 to State Teachers College. State Teachers College became Madison College in 1938, but it wasn’t until 1966 that MC became fully co-educational and men began to reside on campus as students. Finally, in 1977, the university received the moniker we all know and love: James Madison University. Today, campus spans 785 acres, with 138 buildings, a faculty of 1,448, and 20,779 total students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate studies.

One of the biggest changes many Dukes who graduated in the ’80s and before note is the expansion of campus East of Interstate 81. The Convocation Center was the first building constructed on the new side of campus, and was completed in 1982. Today, there are many buildings on East Campus, including Convo, UREC, Rose Library, four academic buildings, three dorms, two dining halls, and more.

Despite the expansion of campus to the other side of 81, hanging out on the Quad is still a favorite for many students. Activities range from a simple game of frisbee, to hooping and Spikeball.

While some students may say the dorms haven’t changed enough (can we get some AC in the Village and Lakeside?!), decorating styles certainly have.

Along with new academic buildings and the latest technology, many of our original classrooms are still in use, but have received some updates as well.

From the first ever football game in 1972, to undefeated FCS national champs in 2017, our football team has certainly come a long way. The Dukes played their first game on October 7, 1972, and lost 6-0 to the Shepherd College junior varsity team.

As our football team has improved, our stadium has received some upgrades! Bridgeforth Stadium was built in 1975, updated in 1981, and received a large renovation in 2011 that increased capacity to 24,877. Prior to the stadium being built, football games were played on Godwin Field.

Even the JMU logo differs significantly from the ’70s!

And of course, our beloved Duke Dog has undergone some changes through the years, too.

In the past couple of years, students have seen D-Hall rise again (doors open Fall 2018!), the opening of Madison Hall, and the near-completion of Hotel Madison. Plans for the the new Union Bank and Trust Center and the updated College of Business building have been released as well. It’s an exciting time to be a Duke!


Happy Homecoming, Dukes!

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Comment and tell us what your favorite thing about JMU is!

10 thoughts on “JMU: Then and Now

  1. I was there when the first Astroturf was installed for Bridgeforth. Uncle Ron (Dr, Ron Carrier) made it clear at the time. He wanted the students to “wear it out”. (While we still had a warranty). Greatest guy ever.

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  2. Great review of the 70’s. In the early 70’s there was no such thing a computer…just the electric typewriter. We stood in line to sign up for classes. The women played intercollegiate field hockey and lacrosse on the field beside the tennis courts; basketball in Keezel Gym where the bouncing balls made the lights go on and off that lit the swimming pool below! One would wear a coat over athletic wear when going across campus and curfew in the dorms was 11 pm. What hasn’t changed is the beloved D-Hall fed us well and the spirit of friendship and positive support for one another. Hear about it from every MC/JMU graduate I meet. So thankful for being there in the 70’s.

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  3. Having been there from 72 to 76, I was at the first football game and saw the school grow in the first few years under President Carrier. He was such an approachable, intelligent man. The campus was improving by leaps and bounds. Miller Hall was created during my time there and my major in physics led to a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and a terrific career. It was challenging, but an incredibly fun time to be on campus. I feel I was there during the golden years…they surely were for me.

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  4. I started in 79 and quickly fell in love with JMU, bleeding purple. Still do to this day. Dr. Carrier seemed to know everyone. You knew you were part of a special environment that was going to continue to grow. If I am correct I remember the Duke Dog being rolled out on a big long leash. Eating was an experience with so many options. There was something at JMU for everyone. Professors that were student oriented. Oh if I could turn back time.

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  5. I remember how we used to register for classes in the 1970s, before we had computers. We all piled into the gym in Goodwin Hall and sat on the tarp-covered floor, filling out index cards, writing out the preferred classes we wanted to sign up for. Once done we would walk up to long tables that were set up around the perimeter of the gym, where professors would be sitting. We would hand our card to the professor and ask if there was any room in the particular class section we wanted. If there was no room in the class section we requested, it was back to the gym floor to write out a new request.

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  6. I was on campus last May while on a golf trip to the Valley from New Hampshire with friends from NH, MA and NY. I took them on a tour of JMU after golf at Packsaddle Golf Course and Massanutten Courses. They were impressed with their first visit to the valley and to the campus. The good memories always come flooding back.

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  7. Started as a Freshmen in Fall of 1973, fond memories of the hill watching football games and coming back to Homecoming!!! Been to every Homecoming since 1973, was there 2 weeks ago, already planning 2018!!!
    GO DUKES!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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