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Madison College graduate, Army Colonel gives nearly $6 million to JMU for scholarships

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

The estate of a 1949 JMU graduate is giving nearly $6 million to James Madison, the largest cash gift in the university’s history.

The gift from the estate of Frances Weir will enable the the university to award approximately $240,000 annually in scholarship funds in perpetuity.

The endowment will support students who demonstrate financial need and who maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher with scholarships that are renewable for three years.

“Scholarships are a top priority for the university, and Col. Weir’s gift will open doors to the Madison Experience for many promising and deserving students whose lives will be the better for it,” said JMU President Jonathan R. Alger.

Weir graduated from JMU in the class of 1949, when it was still Madison College. She studied business education and was part of many campus organizations.

After her time at JMU, Weir joined the Army as part of the Women’s Army Corps and made history with her service. She was the first women to lead an all-male unit, and the Pentagon newspaper wrote that she “paved the way for women military commanders of the future.” Weir was commissioned Colonel in 1971.

During her career, she served in Europe, Saigon, Vietnam, at the Pentagon and on other U.S. bases.

Weir was a native of Winchester and a graduate of Handley High School. She passed away in September.

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.