The Opportunity

James Madison University (JMU) invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of associate vice president for access and enrollment management and director of admissions. The expected start date is late May/early June 2021.

JMU is a selective, diverse, regional, comprehensive, student-oriented institution with a growing national reputation. The student body includes 19,943 undergraduate and 1,946 graduate students (Fall 2020), and over 900 full-time instructional faculty. JMU offers strong liberal arts and professional programs in a variety of disciplines and is committed to innovation, superlative teaching, and scholarship. The university has achieved national recognition for the quality of its academic programs and has been repeatedly identified as a best-buy for students.

JMU is located in Harrisonburg, in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, approximately 120 miles from Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. Known for its livability, local food, arts, and natural surroundings, this Virginia Main Street community is one of the most diverse communities in the Commonwealth.

The Position

Role of the Associate Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management and Director of Admissions for James Madison University

Reporting to the vice president for access and enrollment management, the associate vice president for access and enrollment management and director of admissions (AVPAEM) will lead all aspects of recruitment, admission, and enrollment of new undergraduate students. As an active member of the vice president’s senior leadership team, the AVPAEM will collaborate with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships on allocation of recruitment scholarships and will develop an enrollment management strategy focused on creating and implementing innovative services, activities, and opportunities that increase student retention, persistence, and graduation rates. This senior leader will serve as a catalyst for authentic collaboration between the Office of Admissions, faculty, and marketing and communications staff, and actively represent JMU in national and state professional admission associations.

The AVPAEM will provide vision, direction, and leadership for a team of dedicated admissions recruitment and operations professionals, with a focus on creating a service-centered culture that aligns with the institutional mission. They will work collaboratively with senior leadership to organize and implement a highly efficient, team-based enrollment model that emphasizes an increase in racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity. To this end, the AVPAEM will develop and sustain relationships with key constituents, such as the university campus community, high school counselors, alumni, community colleges, parents, and prospective students.

History of the Position

Michael Walsh has served as JMU’s dean of admissions since April 2000 and will be retiring at the end of June 2021. The position has been retitled to the associate vice president for access and enrollment management and director of admissions.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

The associate vice president for access and enrollment management and director of admissions must possess a broad and deep understanding of the current and emerging trends with regards to recruitment, admission, recruitment marketing, retention, access, and affordability. It is important that the associate vice president be an experienced leader with the capacity to manage complex situations, committed to customer service at the highest level, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level at a selective regional public university.

Within this context, there are several aspects of the associate vice president role in which the successful candidate will need to be prepared to lead after a period of acclimatization and relationship building. These include:

  1. Developing mutually supportive and collegial relationships with the vice president for access and enrollment management and the members of the division’s senior leadership team.
  2. Initiating strong relationships with the existing admissions staff and role modeling collaboration as a core value on day one. The associate vice president will also be expected to support the professional growth of staff members in order to continue building the team’s technical and broader leadership skills.
  3. Extending and building on JMU’s recent success in growing its enrollment while remaining true to its academic and institutional mission and priorities. Particular attention will need to be paid to strengthening relationships with community colleges and workforce development centers.
  4. Partnering with academic affairs and diversity, equity, and inclusion colleagues to develop a comprehensive plan that outlines recruitment and admission of a diverse student population.
  5. Establishing a strong and active presence as a key member of the New Student Enrollment Group and similar collaborative committees that aim to support and enhance the success of JMU students.
  6. Providing strategic leadership to the Slate CRM implementation and launch process.

Measures of Success

The AVPAEM will work with the vice president for access and enrollment management to determine specific measures of success and related timetables. The search committee and stakeholders offer the following general metrics for the position following an appropriate period of acclimatization:

  • The AVPAEM will have established a collegial, proactive, and highly visible leadership presence on and off campus that is both strategically and operationally respected.
  • The AVPAEM will have partnered with the vice president for access and enrollment management and their colleagues on the divisional leadership team to spearhead a collaborative effort to formulate a strategic enrollment and marketing plan that will expand the racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of JMU’s incoming students. The AVPAEM will be expected to demonstrate transparency, a willingness to collaborate with all internal and external stakeholders, and to provide vision, leadership, and accountability in this process.
  • The AVPAEM will have assessed the skills and knowledge of the staff, developed a strong sense of teamwork among staff, and built working relationships with academic affairs, marketing and communications, alumni affairs, athletics, faculty, staff, students, and external vendors that emphasize an engaging and collaborative work environment.
  • The Office of Admissions will be defined as a strong, highly functioning, well-regarded, and resilient team that works with synergy and shared purpose, readily collaborating across departmental and division lines with a demonstrated commitment to enrolling students who will thrive at JMU, graduate, and become engaged alumni.
  • The AVPAEM will have successfully led the implementation team and other key players in the launching of JMU’s instance of Slate CRM.
  • The AVPAEM will have formulated a well-considered and comprehensive set of recommendations that will enable JMU to respond proactively to the challenges posed by the forecasted decline in college enrollments.

Qualifications and Characteristics

James Madison University is seeking an innovative, collaborative, and energetic enrollment leader in this newly elevated role who will build on the university’s undergraduate enrollment successes. A master’s degree, a consistent and demonstrable record of expanding diversity among the student body, and substantial progressive experience in leading admissions functions within higher education are required.

The AVPAEM must have a sophisticated understanding of, and experience with, institutional data reporting and analysis, coupled with highly developed skills in the utilization of market data and current technology in support of the division’s goals and responsibilities. The successful candidate will be expected to have broad undergraduate recruitment and territory management experience; a nuanced understanding of current trends, best practices, and contemporary marketing in recruitment and retention; and broad technological competencies to support a strategic recruitment model.

The search committee is particularly interested in candidates who have the emotional intelligence and leadership skills needed to successfully manage, motivate, and evaluate staff and to nurture genuine collaboration with faculty and staff colleagues. It will be important for the new AVPAEM to have a mature communication style, impeccable professional and ethical standards, and the demeanor and presence consistent with the role of a highly visible and critical senior leader.

In order to succeed in this important position, campus stakeholders indicated the new associate vice president should be:

  • one who is a strong and fair manager of people;
  • an energetic professional who enjoys the work and has high professional standards;
  • one who has a demonstrated ability to develop strategy, design tactics, and implement recruitment and yield plans effectively;
  • one who is well-versed and experienced in supporting and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of the work of admissions professionals;
  • one who has solid admissions operations and technical competencies;
  • one who values data and data-informed decisions and who will be an active partner with the vice president for access and enrollment management and academic colleagues in establishing and achieving institutional enrollment goals;
  • one who is adept at supporting and managing change and can diplomatically improve upon existing operations and practices;
  • one who has excellent goal-setting skills and can establish processes to achieve those goals;
  • one who has the ability to understand, use, and train colleagues to leverage core technology such as a CRM and other applications necessary for effectively recruiting a first-year and transfer class;
  • one who has social intelligence and will mentor and lead the admissions team;
  • one who is accountable and, in turn, expects accountability from the team;
  • one who is able to champion the value of public education;
  • one who is confident and respectful in communications with executive officers and external constituents;
  • one who has an innovative approach to engaging with today’s prospective students and will work to enhance communications so that students and their families can make well-considered decisions;
  • ideally, one who has experience working at an institution with constrained financial resources;
  • one who is a fresh thinker who will collaborate with JMU faculty to identify new ways of marketing academic programs;
  • one who is an effective communicator with the public;
  • one who has a sense of humor and can build an enjoyable working environment;
  • one who has deep empathy for the student experience and is flexible with staff; and
  • one who will take time to understand JMU’s culture, strengths, and unique value propositions.

Overview of the Office of Admissions at James Madison University

The Office of Admissions at JMU is responsible for the marketing and promotion, recruitment, application processing, and admission of first-time and transfer undergraduate students, including international, military, and home-school applicants.

The university offers undergraduate applicants two options for submitting their application for admission: the JMU online application and the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success application. Admission to graduate degree and certificate programs is managed by The Graduate School or the individual department or program.

The office currently uses Hobson’s Connect and has recently made the decision to transition to Slate as its CRM.

Admitted First-Time in College (Fall 2020)

Applications: 24,413

Applicants accepted: 78 percent

Applicants enrolled: 5,194

Ranked in top third of high school class: 46 percent

SAT mid-50 percent range: 1150-1310

ACT mid-50 percent range: 24-30

Admitted Transfer Students (Fall 2020)

Applications: 2,673

Applicants accepted: 62 percent

Applicants enrolled: 1,084

Organizational Chart


The Division of Access and Enrollment Management

The offices within the Division of Access and Enrollment Management support the university mission through the recruitment and retention of students and the coordination of university events such as commencements. In addition, they support the core qualities of the institution, specifically in promoting and sustaining efforts for a diverse community and a campus that embraces environmental stewardship. The division coordinates the university’s enrollment activities to promote a quality environment that fosters a successful transition to college through graduation. The following offices comprise the division:

  • Access and Inclusion
  • Admissions
  • Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Student Access and Inclusion
  • Title IX
  • University Events

Leadership of the Division

Donna Harper, Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management

Donna Harper is vice president for access and enrollment management at JMU. She has served in various positions at the university since graduating in 1977 including assistant dean of students, director of health and recreation, associate vice president for student affairs, and executive assistant to the President. She has enjoyed the various roles and responsibilities she has had the opportunity to have and strives to encourage and support others at the university to find their passion. She played field hockey as an undergraduate student and is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha (ASA). She continues to be involved at JMU through the Duke Club and as advisor to ASA. Harper also serves as the co-coordinator of the College Student Personnel Administration graduate program and teaches a graduate class in the program.

Harper enjoys working in the community and currently serves on the Rockingham Educational Foundation and The Community Foundation, serving as an officer on both boards. She received her BS in Business, MS in Counselor Education/College Student Personnel Administration, and EdS in Counselor Education from JMU.

Institution & Location

Institutional Overview

Founded in 1908 as a women’s college, James Madison University is a public university located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The campus began its operations in 1909 with two buildings—now called Justice Studies Hall and Mountain Hall—that sat on farmland at the outer edge of Harrisonburg. Constant growth and expansion have been a hallmark for the campus ever since.

Today, JMU extends over 650 acres of rolling Shenandoah Valley hills and includes more than 100 buildings. The university became coeducational in 1966 and it is fast becoming one of the nation’s leading lights in higher education because students enjoy unusually engaged relationships with world-class faculty who want to pursue knowledge and make teaching their number one priority.

JMU Rankings and Outcomes

#1 most innovative university in the south by U.S. News & World Report

#1 graduation rate in the U.S. for large, master’s level public universities

#1 Best College for Employment in Virginia according to U.S. Department of Education statistics compiled by Zippia. JMU has the highest post-graduation job levels of all Virginia colleges.

#5 in the nation for “students who made the right choice” by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education

#25 best public college value in the U.S. by MONEY magazine

80 percent of JMU students do undergraduate research, an internship, a practicum, or student teach

96 percent of 2019 JMU graduates were employed, in graduate school, or involved in other career endeavors within six months of graduation

90 percent first to second year retention rate

About Harrisonburg, Virginia

JMU is situated in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a region known for the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, the Shenandoah River, rolling farmland and breathtaking views. Only two hours from Washington, D.C., the 675-acre campus is located in the city of Harrisonburg, a safe, friendly community with a 2019 census-estimated population of approximately 53,000.

Harrisonburg is a diverse city, with the variety of a larger city and the charm of a small town. The natural beauty of the area combined with a focus on local businesses, food, and people create an environment that makes the city appealing. Backpacker magazine ranked Harrisonburg a top spot to “beat nature deficit disorder,” and for good reason. Outdoor fun is serious business in Harrisonburg and the neighboring counties. Fond of being first in many things, Harrisonburg is especially proud of having the first recognized Arts and Cultural and Culinary Districts in Virginia.

Mission and Values


“We are a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.”


To be the national model for the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world.

The university’s central pursuit as it seeks to fulfill its mission will be to become the national model for what it means to be engaged.

At JMU engagement means:

  • Engaged Learning: Developing deep, purposeful and reflective learning, through classroom, campus, and community experiences in the pursuit, creation, application and dissemination of knowledge.
  • Civic Engagement: Advancing the legacy of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, by preparing individuals to be active and responsible participants in a representative democracy dedicated to the common good.
  • Community Engagement: Fostering mutually beneficial and reciprocal partnerships, ranging from local to global, that connect learning to practice, address critical societal problems and improve quality of life.


  • Academic Quality: JMU is dedicated to exemplary learning experiences because they are the essence of its mission.
  • Community: JMU thrives when members of the community collaborate, respect and serve others, and appreciate their interconnectedness.
  • Diversity: JMU strives to be an inclusive community that values the richness of all individuals and perspectives.
  • Innovation: JMU believes that purposeful creativity through collaborative processes leads to knowledge creation, learning, and excellence.
  • Integrity: JMU pursues ethical reasoning because it is essential to meaningful citizenship.
  • Student Focus: JMU provides experiences that challenge and support students.

Strategic Plan

July 1, 2020 marked the start of a bold new strategic plan for James Madison University, as it responds to the ever-changing needs of its local, regional, and global communities. The development of the James Madison University Strategic Plan 2020-2026 coincided with a very turbulent world, calling on higher education to do even more to provide real-world solutions and use knowledge creation as a source of healing and freedom. That is why the strategic plan priorities focus on community needs—from workforce development to broadening access, from a new vision for enrollment to learning and innovation.

Components of the Strategic Plan Structure

  • Mission, Vision, and Values provide the backbone of the university’s strategic plan.
  • Strategic Priorities give focus to guide the university’s plan over the next few years.
  • Core Qualities and University Goals are both statements of current truth as well as aspirational hopes.
  • Objectives created and tracked in academic units and university departments make up the heartbeat of the strategic plan. These annual initiatives and targets in support of Core Qualities and University Goals are how the university intends to measure the progress and success of the strategic plan.

To read more about the JMU strategic planning process:


Jonathan Alger, President

Jonathan Alger became the sixth president of James Madison University on July 1, 2012. Under his leadership, this public comprehensive university in Virginia with almost 22,000 students developed a bold new vision to be “the national model of the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world,” and a strategic plan focused on engaged learning, community engagement, and civic engagement. This plan has included the development of ambitious new programs and initiatives across the institution, such as the Valley Scholars Program (for first-generation students from local public schools), the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement (which provides national as well as institutional leadership), the Madison Trust (to provide philanthropic support for innovative projects) and the Engagement Fellows (a public service year program for recent college graduates), among many others. JMU has grown significantly under President Alger’s leadership, and has embarked on the $200 million Unleashed campaign to support the university’s goals.

Prior to coming to JMU, Alger served as senior vice president and general counsel at Rutgers University, where he provided strategic leadership on a variety of issues and established a comprehensive compliance program. He had previously worked as assistant general counsel at the University of Michigan, where he played a key leadership role in the university’s efforts in two landmark Supreme Court cases on diversity and admissions and coordinated one of the largest amicus brief coalitions in Supreme Court history.  Earlier in his career he worked in the national office of the American Association of University Professors on issues such as academic freedom, shared governance, tenure, and due process. He also served for several years in the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, where he was the point person on the development and implementation of national policies on race-conscious financial aid, racial harassment, and free expression. He began his career as an associate in the Labor and Employment Section of the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.

Alger is a nationally recognized scholar and speaker on higher education policy and law and has given hundreds of presentations across the United States and abroad on a wide range of topics. He has published numerous articles and has done significant editorial work for scholarly journals and publications such as The Journal of College and University Law and The Law of Higher Education (the leading treatise in the field). He co-teaches a leadership seminar in JMU’s Honors College and has previously taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Rutgers and Michigan in law, higher education, public policy, and diversity.

Academic Programs and Faculty

Degree programs offered: 139

Undergraduate: 76

Master’s: 53

Education Specialist: 2

Doctoral: 8

Full-time instructional faculty: 1,068

Part-time instructional faculty: 404

Faculty with doctoral or terminal degree: 76 percent

Student/faculty ratio: 16:1

Average class size: 25 students

Classes with fewer than 50 students: 88 percent

Classes taught by professors: 98 percent

The Student Body

Enrollment (Fall 2020)

Undergraduate students: 19,943

Graduate students: 1,946

In-state/out-of-state ratio: 77/23 percent

Male/female ratio: 42/58 percent

International students: 1.7 percent

U.S. students of color: 22.5 percent

Benefits Overview

  • Health plans
  • Dental plans
  • Vision plans
  • Retirement plans
  • Supplemental retirement plans
  • Disability plans
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Tuition assistance
  • Life insurance
  • Leave benefits
  • Employee assistance program
  • Training opportunities
  • Workers compensation

For more information:

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Michel Frendian at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the James Madison University website at

James Madison University is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive work and educational community that is free of all forms of discrimination. This institution does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. We promote access, inclusion, and diversity for all students, faculty, staff, constituents, and programs, believing that these qualities are foundational components of an outstanding education in keeping with our mission. The university is interested in candidates whose experience and qualifications support an ongoing commitment to this core quality.