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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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AU Jon Alger Portrait

BREAKING: Jonathan Alger named 16th president of American University

James Madison University president to take over July 1

American University announced today that Jonathan Alger will be the University's next president. He will take over current president Sylvia Burwell’s position July 1 after serving 12 years as president at James Madison University. 

After Burwell announced last August that the 2023-2024 school year would be her last year as president, a competitive national search began. The search found Alger, who has been working in higher education leadership for over two decades. The announcement came from Gina Adams, chair of AU’s board of trustees, and Marc Duber and Janice Menke Abraham, the chair and vice chair of the search committee.

“Throughout his career, Jon has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to liberal education as the foundation for our nation’s historic mission of educating for democracy,” said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of College and Universities. 

Under Alger, JMU created and implemented a strategic plan focused on engaged learning, community engagement and civic engagement. In 2022, JMU was awarded a new Carnegie Classification of R2 doctoral university with high research activity. Additionally, the university’s endowment more than doubled during his presidency and external research funding increased by 92 percent from 2019 to 2023, according to a press release. 

“American University’s stellar academic profile and global impact reflect the unique and inspiring characteristics of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni,” said Alger in a press release. “Encouraging students to dream big is the heart of higher education, and the opportunity to join American University is a dream come true for me and my family.”

Alger comes to AU as the University continues its Changemakers for a Changing World seven-year strategic plan, running from 2019 to 2025. During this time, AU has doubled externally funded research, delivered more than 230 experiential learning opportunities for students and opened the Hall of Science in 2020. 

Through the $500 million Change Can’t Wait fundraising campaign – which is currently 93% complete – AU created or expanded more than 150 student scholarships, created eight endowed faculty positions and began construction on the $109 million Student Thriving Complex, the largest investment in student thriving in the university’s history. 

The University is facing a 2023-2024 budget shortfall of $33 million due to lower enrollment numbers and revenue loss from COVID-19. 

Prior to his presidency at JMU, Alger served as senior vice president and general counsel at Rutgers University and assistant general counsel at University of Michigan, where he played a leadership role in two landmark cases on diversity and admissions before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also worked as associate counsel for the American Association of University Professors and as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights earlier in his career. 

During his time at OCR where he worked from 1992 to 1996, the office provided colleges guidance on race-conscious financial aid and racial harassment. OCR also investigates how dozens of colleges and universities respond to sexual violence and Title IX reports. 

“He leads with compassion, transparency, integrity, authenticity, moral courage and humor,” said Pasquerella. “I can think of no better exemplar when it comes to American University’s mission of empowering lives of purpose, service, and leadership.”

This article was edited by Tyler Davis, Abigail Turner and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks. 

administration@theeagleonline.com


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