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Office of the President: Board of Visitors Records

Identifier: UA 0010
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Office of the President: Board of Visitors Records, 1908-2001, document the activities of the James Madison University Board of Visitors and its predecessor, the Board of Trustees. The collection is comprised primarily of meeting minutes and correspondence. Minutes from the Board of Visitors’ first meeting on July 16, 1964 are included. Researchers should note that meeting minutes from the various iterations of university governing bodies between 1914 and 1963 are not included. The correspondence is chiefly official memoranda, letters concerning business and new board members, and contractual agreements granting faculty members temporary leaves of absence. The collection also includes annual reports and reports to the Board of Visitors, financial materials documenting lease agreements involving James Madison University, athletic program expenditure statements, and audit reports. Miscellaneous items include documents explaining the origins of buildings’ names, a Board of Visitors manual, and a document of Board of Visitors Resolutions.


  • 1908-2001

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of James Madison University is retained by James Madison University. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information, contact the Special Collections Reference Desk (

Administrative History

James Madison University’s Board of Visitors was created in 1964 with the prime directive of overseeing the effective government of the university, then Madison College. When the institution opened in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, the governing body was its own Board of Trustees. The school changed its name to the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg in 1914 and governance was shifted to the Virginia Normal School Board, a state agency. The institution was renamed once again in 1924 to the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg. The governance also experienced change as control was transferred to the State Board of Education. In 1964, the final change occurred when the Virginia General Assembly established independent boards of visitors for each of the state’s former teacher colleges.

The Governor of Virginia holds the power of appointing each member of the Board of Visitors. The first Board of Visitors was comprised of 11 members; its first rector was Burr P. Harrison. The Virginia General Assembly acted to have the board size increased to 15 members in 1989. Of the selected members, no more than two can be non-Virginians and board members include both JMU alumni and non-alumni. In addition to appointed members, a student representative and the speaker of the JMU Faculty Senate serve on the board. Terms of service do apply as board members are not eligible to serve more than two consecutive four-year terms. Officers of the board (rector, vice rector, and secretary) are elected annually by the board for one-year terms.


6.94 cubic feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Office of the President: Board of Visitors Records, 1908-2001, document the activities of the James Madison University Board of Visitors and its predecessor, the Board of Trustees. Materials include meeting minutes, correspondence, financial documents, and president’s reports.


The collection is arranged into five series. Series 5 is arranged further into subseries. All series are arranged chronologically with the exception of subseries 5.1 which is arranged alphabetically and subseries 5.2 which is arranged topically.

  1. Meeting Minutes, 1908-2001
  2. Correspondence, 1964-1995
  3. Miscellaneous, 1981-1994
  4. President’s Reports, 1909-1967
  5. Financial Documents, 1922-1989

Acquisition Information

This collection was formed from the merger of several groups of materials received from Fred Hilton in JMU Media Relations (accessions 93-0107, 93-0210), Gail May in the President’s Office (accessions 99-1122, 00-0215), and Machelle Rader in the President's Office (2005-0519). These accessions were combined under the collection number PR 99-1122.

Other Formats Available

Beginning with the March 26, 1999 meeting, JMU Board of Visitors meeting minutes are available online at: Selected material from this collection has also been digitized and made available at:


  • “Board of Visitors” James Madison University Centennial Celebration. Accessed January 26, 2017.
  • James Madison University - Board of Visitors. Accessed January 26, 2017.

Processing Information

The collection was reprocessed in 2016 and contains all documents from the original accession (PR 99-1122) except for the Faculty Minutes, 1908-1998, which were removed to form a separate collection (UA 0011). A copy of the original finding aid is located in the collection control file. Old collection folders were reused during reprocessing and folder titles were retained when possible. Inserts found in the Board of Trustees Minute Book were removed and foldered separately. The inserts were subsequently photocopied and those copies are also foldered separately. The Board of Visitors meeting minutes and President’s Reports were originally bound, but were disbound in 2016 during reprocessing.

A Guide to the Office of the President: Board of Visitors Records, 1908-2001
Chris Bolgiano and Kim Johnson, Julia Merkel, Emily Rehault, Brianna Melchione, Tiffany Cole
February 2000, October 2005, July 2015, February 2016, January 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612