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Jonathan Alger announced as ѿý’s 16th president

Jon Alger

Jonathan Alger served as the sixth president of James Madison University (JMU) beginning in 2012. 

Under Alger’s leadership, JMU developed such ambitious new programs and initiatives as the Valley Scholars Program for first-generation students from public schools in the region, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, the Economic Development Council, the Madison Trust, the Engagement Fellows, and the comprehensive Task Force on Racial Equity, and a strategic partnership with the Republic of Kosovo. JMU also attained the R2 national research university designation under the Carnegie Classifications and more than doubled its endowment. In 2022, the university transitioned to the Sun Belt Conference and the highest level of Division I football.

Before his time at JMU, Alger served as senior vice president and general counsel at Rutgers University, where he established a comprehensive compliance program. He 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 US 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. He has contributed significant scholarly work to The Journal of College and University Law ԻThe Law of Higher Education and received the American Council on Education’s Council of Fellows/Fidelity Investments Mentor Award in 2021. A national leader in the field of civic engagement in higher education, Alger also received the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Standout Campus President Award in 2019 and chairs that organization’s presidents council. He has cotaught a leadership seminar in JMU’s Honors College and has previously taught graduate and undergraduate courses in law, higher education, public policy, and diversity at Rutgers and Michigan.

Alger is past board chair of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, which has honored him with life membership and the Distinguished Service Award. He was a public member for several years on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Advisory Council at the National Institutes of Health. He has also participated on national advisory committees for such organizations as the Association of American Universities, College Board, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and has chaired national conferences on diversity, discrimination, civic engagement, technology, and academic freedom.

Alger was born and raised outside Rochester, New York. He earned his bachelor’s with high honors and Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College (political science major, history minor and public policy concentration), and his JD with honors from Harvard Law School.