James Madison University Office of Residence Life is a featured program.
The Office of Residence Life at James Madison University is committed to designing and maintaining a caring environment that encourages academic success, respect, personal growth and responsibility to one’s community.
The foundation for the services we offer is rooted in the following values:
- Supportive transition to the JMU community
- Academic achievement
- Providing positive learning experiences
- Providing excellent service and accommodation
In 1908, the Governor of Virginia created the Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg and on September 27, 1909 the first students arrived on campus. In 1938, the school was renamed Madison College in honor of Virginia native President James Madison. In 1966, the Virginia General Assembly approved full coeducational status for the college and men were enrolled as resident students for the first time. The first football game was played on October 7, 1972 and was lost to Shepherd College by a score of 6-0. Madison College became James Madison University in 1977. Today James Madison University boasts almost 21, 000 students (92% of which are undergraduates) and 122 degree programs (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral).
Overview of Office of Residence Life
The current on campus living population consists of primarily first and second year students (including Greek Housing), totaling around 6500. JMU has a residency requirement that all first year students live on campus. The JMU staff model includes a Director of Residence Life, 23 professional staff members, 28 Hall Directors and 211 undergraduate Resident Advisers.
Points of Pride
- Wayland Hall: Wayland Hall is home to the Visual and Performing Arts Learning Community. In 2011, Wayland Hall became the first renovated residence hall in the country to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Award. To learn more about the design see here: http://www.jmu.edu/orl/our-residence-halls/index.shtml#.
- In the Fall of 2015, the Office of Residence Life opened its first apartment style living community. The Apartments on Grace, have 506 beds, 15 Resident Advisers and 1 professional Hall Director. For more information and to see this amazing new space, check it out at http://www.jmu.edu/orl/our-residence-halls/apartments-on-grace-street.shtml#.
- Hall Director Staff Structure: The majority of Hall Director staff at JMU are undergraduate students (17/28 of current Hall Directors). These individuals balance the HD role, along with being a full time student, in communities with 6 or less Resident Advisers. All of the graduate students this year are enrolled in the College Student Personnel program managing communities with 6-9 Resident Advisers and professional Hall Directors managing communities with 14-18 Resident Advisers. This structure allows JMU to provide amazing leadership opportunities to more student staff. This model has been a part of the JMU department for a very long time (and by long time, we mean decades).
- Residential Learning Communities: JMU currently has 8 RLCs and planning sessions are underway with faculty to create a few more. Residential learning communities are considered a high impact practice and enhance the student living experience. The majority are based around an academic major and the others are interest based. All RLCs have at least one academic class that students take together. Learn more here: http://www.jmu.edu/orl/housing/rlc.shtml
Here’s what JMU Office of Residence Life staff have to say about working here:
“I am in my 8th year at JMU. I enjoy collaborating with the other ORL staffers. They bring lots of energy and enthusiasm to the office and I look forward to seeing them every day. Because we require our first-year students to live on-campus (and have done so for many years) I think it has become a shared experience that alums look back upon and remember fondly. They identify with other alums who lived in the same hall or area, even if it was a different year, and it truly a JMU tradition like no other.” – Kevin Meaney, Director of Residence Life
“I have worked at JMU for almost 25 years. The people I work with and the campus I work on are my favorite aspects of my role. I believe it is our strong common goals to make the on-campus living experience the best it can be that makes the Office of Residence Life unique.” – Hugh Brown, Associate Director of Community Development
“I have worked for ORL for 11 years. My favorite part of my role and ORL is interaction with all the people. I think we are unique because everyone really seems to care and to do their best to make on campus living a rewarding productive experience.” – Rosie McArthur, Administrative Assistant
“This is my third year working for ORL and my JMU experience would not be the same without it. My favorite part about being an RA and HD is that I get to have an impact on other people’s JMU experiences. I think ORL is unique because not only are we learning and developing skills that are useful for whatever comes our way in the future, but we also get to develop relationships that last much longer than the academic year. We invest so much time and energy into helping our residents and our staffs grow and it is equal parts challenging and rewarding. “ – Kira Heeschen, 1st year undergraduate Hall Director
“I have been at JMU for 7 weeks. My favorite part of working for ORL is my AD-HD staff. My AD-HD staff is vocal, energetic, and very supportive. As a new HD this year, it was important for me to have an AD-HD staff as supportive as this one to help ease my transition into my new position. There is a very unique dynamic in the office with undergraduate students, graduate students, and professional staff members working together all of the time. Each different employee population has a unique skill set and perspective that they bring to the office and in turn, it helps us all learn from each other. – Chris Ambrose, 1st year graduate Hall Director
Submitted by Pam Steele, Area Director, James Madison University