Changes to Faculty and Administration

Board of Visitors in 1976. JMU Special Collections.

Board of Visitors in 1976. JMU Special Collections.

Psychology of Administration

Dr. Carrier recognized that in order to change the psychology of Madison to fit in to his vision of a regional institution, changes to the faculty and administration needed to be done. Most of the administration had worked under Miller and wanted to retain the image Madison had of being an all-girls teaching school. However, this was not the vision Carrier had and so some administrators and administrative positions needed to be removed and replaced. There were a slew of changes to the organizational structure of Madison College that occurred from 1972-1977.

Departments that were created include Academic Affairs, Public Services, Administrative Planning, Public Affairs, Student Affairs and Intercollegiate Athletics. Many departments were also restructured and positions were changed. As an example, in 1970-1971 there was a Dean of Men and a Dean of Women who also was the Director of Student Affairs. The deans of men and women were done away with in 1972-1973, the position of Director of Student Affairs was kept, and a new position of Director of Student Life was created (Robertson, 264-265).

Carrier brought in many administrators with him that he had worked with in the past, such as Robert Riggs, Dean Ehlers, and William Nelson. Some accused Carrier of favoritism and the term, “Memphis Mafia”, which referred to the men that Carrier had brought with him, started being floated around campus. The “Memphis Mafia” occupied 5 key positions: vice president of academic affairs, dean of admissions and records, executive assistant to the president, athletic director, and football coach (Hilton, 54). In an interview, Dr. Carrier stated that none of these men directly reported to him and that they were largely allowed to operate their own departments with little interference from Carrier (Interview, April 2nd 2013).

Changes to Administration

Carrier speaking at Employees Award Banquet sometime in the 1970's. JMU Special Collections.

Carrier speaking at Employees Award Banquet sometime in the 1970’s. JMU Special Collections.

New leadership was also found in the faculty. Many major divisional heads refused to work together and so Carrier was forced to replace them. By 1972, all but one of the departments heads had been replaced, with the last one retiring the year after (Hilton, 54). Many could not reconcile themselves to the new vision of Dr. Carrier and would not give up the image of Madison as an all-girls teaching school. Some eventually left Madison but others did stay as professors and occupied lower-level administrative positions (Hilton, 54).

Dr. Sidney Bland, who was the Speaker of the Faculty Senate for a year during the 1970’s, recalled that Carrier did restructure the faculty at Madison College. More emphasis was placed on research and publishing, but many faculty were overwhelmed with balancing these new expectations with ever-increasing teaching responsibilities. Carrier tried to standardize the various departments and the experience level of the faculty, i.e. acquirement of terminal degrees, but this proved to be unsuccessful. The issue was that Carrier was trying to standardize vastly different departments with vastly different expectations and requirements. Bland did recall that Carrier was a good listener and did try to address the concerns of the faculty (Interview, March 22nd 2013).

As enrollment increased and the football program was established, some faculty felt that Carrier was placing students and athletics over the faculty and academic standards. Bland stated that many questioned whether Carrier made these changes for the right reasons and that many wished he would champion the faculty instead. Daphyne Thomas also stated this concern that the infrastructure of the campus had been given too much emphasis. Thomas reasoned, however, that Carrier’s idea behind these changes was that “if you build it, they will come” and that in order to increase enrollment and academics, these changes needed to be made (Interview, March 26th 2013).

These changes to the faculty and administration, despite the reservations of some of the staff, were implemented in order to change Madison College into a regional institution. While it doesn’t seem as if faculty relations were as important to Carrier as students and the infrastructure of the college, he did try to meet their needs and maintain academic standards while the campus was evolving.


Works Cited

Bland, Sidney. Interview by Amanda Castellano. Personal Interview. Harrisonburg, VA. March 22nd 2013.

Carrier, Ronald E. Interview by Amanda Castellano. Personal interview. Harrisonburg, VA, April 2nd 2013.

Hilton, Fred. “Changing from a College to a University: Madison College to James Madison University, 1971-1977.” Master’s thesis, James Madison University, 1996.

Robertson, Emily. “The Transformation of Madison College into James Madison University: A Case Study.” Doctoral dissertation, College of William and Mary, 1991.

Thomas, Daphyne. Interview by Amanda Castellano. Personal Interview. Harrisonburg, VA. March 26th, 2013.