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JMU to honor three long-time employees by naming roads, building in their honor

Crystal Graham
(© Anne Richard – stock.adobe.com)

Two long-time employees and the sixth president of James Madison University will be honored through the naming of two streets and one building.

The James Madison University Board of Visitors voted last week to name two streets on campus in honor of long-time employees who are retiring this spring and rename one building in honor of JMU’s sixth president.

Donna Harper, vice president of access and enrollment management, and Jeff Bourne, director of athletics, will retire at the conclusion of the spring 2024 semester.

“Jeff’s visionary leadership and Donna’s unwavering dedication have been instrumental in shaping the university,” said Maribeth Herod, the rector for the Board of Visitors. “Both leave a legacy of excellence and inspiration.”

The permanent street signs will be placed in the coming weeks. Alger Hall, named for JMU’s president, will likely open in 2026.

Donna Harper Lane

Donna Harper Lane will now be the pedestrian path that runs the length of Greek Row, near Newman Lake.

Greek Life has always been a passion of Harper’s and reflects the many years of service she has given toward JMU’s panhellenic life on campus. Harper served as a sorority advisor for more than 40 years and started her career at JMU in Greek Life.

Harper is retiring having served JMU for 47 years, most recently as the vice president of access and enrollment management.

She is an alumna from the class of 1977 and was part of the women’s field hockey team while she completed her undergraduate degree.

In her current role, Harper oversees the Office of Admissions, Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, University Events, Access and Educational Outreach, Title IX, First Generation Student Success and the Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World and is currently the Secretary to the Board of Visitors. She also assists with university-wide projects and programs, including institutional celebrations and commencements.

Jeff Bourne Way

East Campus Drive, which serves as the primary entrance to the Atlantic Union Bank Center, will be renamed Jeff Bourne Way. AUBC was the most recent athletics capital project that was overseen and advocated for by Bourne.

Bourne is retiring as the director of athletics, a role he has served for 25 years beginning in 1999.

The athletic department has grown since his tenure began and has emerged on the national stage with numerous noteworthy achievements.

Bourne prioritized a full overhaul of the department’s facility profile, pushing for each student-athlete to be able to maximize performance thanks to first-class competition and training venues.

This work continues in Bourne’s final year as the department embarks upon its next wave of master planning.

Bourne lead athletics to join the Sun Belt Conference, which coincided with the football team beginning the reclassification from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2022.

Under his leadership the athletic department has three NCAA national championships, 77 conference team championships, 60 regular season titles and many other performance and academic accomplishments.

Alger Hall

In honor of Jonathan Alger, who has served as JMU’s president for the past 12 years, the board has voted to rename Spotswood Hall to Alger Hall.

While these changes will not be seen immediately, the concept is tied to Alger’s passion and commitment toward civic learning and engagement.

This hall will undergo significant renovations and the building will be repurposed into the future home of the Madison Center for Civic Engagement.

Upon opening, the newly renovated facility will be named Alger Hall and will be a civic learning and living community, where students interested in this field of study will have the opportunity to reside and learn through the Madison Center.

While the detailed timeline is not finalized, it is anticipated that Alger Hall will open toward the end of 2026.

At that time, a celebratory event will take place.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.