'Unleashed' campaign aims to unlock JMU's full potential as a university

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University is trying to reach a lofty new goal: fundraising $200 million by June 2022.

Some of the money from the campaign will go to Valley Scholars, a program that helps students in the Valley become the first in their families to earn their college degree.

You could take a walk around the school's campus and see the change already. But JMU hopes Unleashed, its new campaign, does more than raise a few more new buildings.

"James Madison University is on its ascent right now," Dr. Nick Langridge, vice president of university advancement at JMU, said. "From being a local Harrisonburg normal school, to being a regional comprehensive university, to being a national one."

Unleashed aims to improve various aspects of the university, such as new buildings like the College of Business's expansion, which broke ground last week.

"We have outgrown the space that we have, Showker Hall, and we are so grateful to the Showker family for everything they did to get us that first hall," Dr. Michael Busing, interim dean of the College of Business, said. "It is going on 25-years-old. It is time to renew and refresh that."

But buildings are just the start. Unleashed will also help new initiatives that could help the greater Harrisonburg area.

"Our new focus on entrepreneurship," Dr. Langridge said. "We're excited that some of them would even consider Harrisonburg as the place where they want to start those businesses."

Those areas for improvement, and a large chunk of the $200 million going to scholarships for students, illustrate a university wanting to accomplish more.

"When we go out on the road, some of our alums say, 'we don't want to be the best kept secret anymore. We don't want to be the hidden gem,'" Dr. Langridge said. "So Unleashed is about taking this university to the next level."