Bill Bolling Joins JMU as Senior Fellow in Residence for Public Service

“JMU is a great university. I can’t think of a better way to spend the next few years.” -Former Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling

Recently former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling posted an interesting bit of information on his Facebook page that signaled some upcoming changes in the Bollings’ lives:

“I am pleased to announce that Jean Ann and I are about to embark on a new adventure. On October 1st I will be joining the staff at James Madison University in Harrisonburg as a Senior Fellow in Residence for Public Service.

“My role at JMU will be diverse, and will include civic engagement, economic development, advancement and development, and state and federal relations. I will also have the opportunity do guest lecturing in government, political science and leadership.

“I have always wanted to return to public service before my professional career was over, and I can’t think of a better place to do that than JMU. I am looking forward to this unique opportunity to work with the students, faculty and staff at one of Virginia’s great universities.”

Recruiting Bill Bolling was a brilliant move by JMU. They would be hard-pressed to find anyone more suited for carrying out their intended mission, more personable, more well known, and more respected throughout the Commonwealth. The former LG has the temperament, experience, and background to engage public discourse in a reasoned, pragmatic, and bipartisan way.

This new chapter comes after the LG spent 22 years serving the citizens of the Commonwealth, first as a county supervisor in Hanover, then state senator in the Virginia General Assembly, followed by two terms as Lieutenant Governor under a Democratic governor, Tim Kaine, and a Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, and then his appointment by Governor McDonnell as a member of the JMU Board of Visitors. He has also served on numerous other boards throughout the years.

During his tenure in the McDonnell administration he was appointed as a cabinet member where he served as Chief Jobs Creation Officer and traveled the Commonwealth, prompting the governor to quip, “I’m going to turn him into the busiest lieutenant governor in the nation.” Many considered him a goodwill ambassador for the Old Dominion, experiences that most certainly will be put to use at JMU.

One of the more exciting aspects of this news is that Bill and Jean Ann will be moving to Harrisonburg as neighbors to those of us who live in the Shenandoah Valley.

Reporter Matthew Sasser in JMU’s The Breeze wrote:

“He really represents the example of what an engaged citizen looks like,” Mike Davis, executive adviser to the president, said. “He is really experienced at reaching across the aisle. We’re hoping that he can demonstrate to our students how to do that as well.”

In this new position, Bolling will report directly to President Jonathan Alger. While this position is new to JMU, the senior fellow title is common across higher education. The initial agreement is for three years at a salary of $140,000.

“We’ve come to love the place and everything about JMU and Harrisonburg,” Bolling said. “It’s really just an opportunity to use some of the experience that I’ve gained in state government and give something back to the students, faculty and staff at the university.”

Since the president’s office is a small community compared to similar universities, Bolling’s arrival will have an immediate impact. While Bolling served on the Board of Visitors, he also maintained a full-time job. According to Davis, having Bolling on campus each day will allow him to have a greater focus on projects that further enhance the university.

Sasser added:

For Bolling, JMU is familiar territory to him; his son Kevin attended from 2005-09. In addition, he worked closely with JMU’s leadership team during his time as lieutenant governor.

One of the opportunities Bolling is most looking forward to is working with the Madison Center for Civic Engagement and spreading its message across the state. He’ll be traveling across Virginia to promote JMU as a leading example for civic engagement —an ideal of being invested in state affairs Bolling believes is most consistent with James Madison himself.

“If you look at the world in which we live today, there is nothing we need more of than people who understand the need of civil discourse,” Bolling said. “There is so much anger and polarization and division and the opportunity to work at the Center for Center Engagement to … spread a message that desperately needs to be shared.”

The Bollings, after living in the Richmond area for more than 35 years, will have some settling in to do while becoming full-time residents in the Valley. Plans are to begin at JMU on October 1.

Congratulations, welcome, and looking forward to this addition at the university.

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