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Institutional Research Quarterly Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 1
September 2003

About OIR

Mission Statement


About University Planning & Analysis


  • Al Menard,
    Associate Vice President

  • Susan Linn,
    Executive Assistant

Your comments about this newsletter are greatly appreciated.

2001-03 Research Notes
2001-03 Research Studies

Table of Contents

University Planning and Analysis and OIR staff have been busy with several major projects this spring. Below are links to important additions to our Web site.

Freshman Survey Summary

The Freshman Survey seeks responses to questions about respondents’ decision to attend college and, more specifically, James Madison University; their experiences in high school; and their attitudes, values and beliefs. For the first time, staff in the Division of Student Affairs and University Planning requested that incoming students complete the Freshman Survey online.  Responses were made in May, June and July.

Below are some major findings of the survey:

  • Freshman respondents to the survey continue to be academic achievers who hold traditional values and in general, come from middle-class families.

  • More than one-half of this year’s respondents reported average high school grades of A- or better and three-fourths of the respondents reported combined SAT scores of 1100 or better. Nearly one-third of this year’s first year students also reported being in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class.

  • Three-fourths or more of this year’s survey respondents said they feel that the following are very important: education, friendship, honesty, fulfilling oneself as a person, family and love.

  • More than one-third of this year’s students said they hold a middle-of-the-road political preference. About one-third of the respondents indicated they hold liberal views; slightly less stated they hold conservative views.

  • More than one-half of the respondents report that raising a family is an essential accomplishment; one-quarter or more believe that receiving a liberal arts education that is of high quality and very diversified; developing a meaningful philosophy of life; being well off financially; helping others who are in difficulty and developing a global perspective are essential.

  • Similar to past respondents, three-fourths or more of this year’s freshmen said that the following were very important in their decision to attend college: to be able to get a better job; to learn more about the things that interest the student; to meet new and interesting people; to be on their own and make their own decisions; and to gain a general education and application of ideas.

  • Nearly three-quarters of this year’s freshmen stated that the good academic reputation of JMU was very important in their decision to attend JMU

  • More than one-half of this year’s respondents reported that they felt very well prepared from high school in the areas of reading, composition, social sciences, and mathematical skills

  • More than two-fifths of this year’s respondents said they hold a vocational philosophy of higher education where going to college is essentially viewed as preparation for an occupation. Approximately the same percentage indicated they hold a social philosophy of higher education where social life and loyalty to college are emphasized.

  • Respondents were asked to indicate the likelihood that certain experiences would occur during their first year at JMU. Items that ninety or more percent of the respondents thought were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to occur were: being happy with my choice to attend JMU; encountering people with a different philosophy of life than my own; getting involved in at least one JMU club or organization; having the “time of my life” in my first year at JMU; being challenged intellectually; making a GPA of 3.0 or better at the end of the year and having faculty that are interested in and supportive of me.

  • Similar to results obtained in past surveys, this year’s incoming freshmen continue to indicate positive outlooks for their future (Table 34). Approximately three out of every four of the respondents said there is a very good chance get a bachelor’s degree; and find a job after graduation in the field for which they are trained.

The full summary of the Freshman Survey can be viewed at: .

Facilities Inventory and Utilization Reports

Annually OIR and Resource Planning submit to SCHEV a facilities inventory file of all space on campus. We currently have more than 12,000 unique spaces in the file. The inventory has been placed online so that space can be reviewed by building.  Departments have the ability to search for space assigned to them.

JMU Performance Measures Database

The Office of Institutional Research has been collecting performance information for many years. Three years ago we began building a database of these performance measures. The database allows for fast updates and reviews of the data by year and category. The database may be viewed by clicking here. Measures calculated during 2002-03 are available here.

JMU Portfolio

In December 2001 the JMU Portfolio was placed on the Web. This is a portal for anyone who wants to review data about the institution's effectiveness. Sections include a Profile of JMU (Mission Statement, Centennial Commission, Defining Characteristics; Statistics and Summaries) and Evidence of JMU's Effectiveness (Accreditation, Planning, Accomplishments, Annual Reports, Performance Measures; Perception Surveys.).

Common Data Set

Ever need to complete a survey with official JMU data? One very useful source of these data is the Common Data Set, prepared annually by OIR. The CDS is used by many national publications, including U.S. News & World Report.  Data included in the CDS: General Information; Enrollment and Persistence; Undergraduate Admissions ; Transfer Admissions; Academic Offerings and Policies; Student Life; Annual Expenses; Financial Aid; Instructional Faculty and Class Size; Degrees Conferred; and Definitions. The data for 2002-03 will be available in February.

Data Warehouse

OIR has been collecting data on students for many years. These data have been instrumental in policy and trend analysis. The office this year developed a data warehouse of information that will be expanded yearly. Chuck DeHart has done a very nice job with this.  The first search capabilities are now on the Web at the following address (Note: Access is only available from JMU computers):


Faculty/Staff Recruitment and Retention Survey

The Office of Institutional Research assisted the Affirmative Action Office in the development, deployment and analysis of this survey in the spring. More than 50 percent of those to whom the survey was sent responded. The data are currently being analyzed, but below are some summary information for new faculty. A formal report will be shared with the university community in August.

Most important reason for new faculty (5 years or less at JMU) for accepting employment.

  1. Staff collegiality

  2. Opportunities for professional growth

  3. Support for creative ideas

  4. Sense of community between faculty and students

  5. Benefits

  6. Student attitudes toward academics

  7. Opportunities for professional contributions

Most important factors related to their decision to remain at JMU.

  1. Staff collegiality

  2. Support for creative ideas

  3. Sense of community between faculty and students

  4. Opportunities for professional growth

  5. Opportunities for professional contributions

  6. Benefits

  7. Student attitudes toward academics

  8. Opportunities for promotion

  9. JMU reputation

Major Trends At JMU, 1990-91 To 2002-03

James Madison University has changed dramatically in the last dozen years. The growth from 11,000 students to nearly 16,000 students has had a major impact on the university's academic offerings, physical plant, its faculty and staff, and the Harrisonburg community. While some changes have been fairly dramatic, some equally important changes have occurred slowly and only reveal their importance over a relatively long period of time.

You may view the entire study and associated data at:

Statistical Summaries (link to all online)

Annually OIR produces a Statistical Summary of important information about JMU. In 1995-96 OIR placed its first Statistical Summary on the web. The 2002-03 Statistical Summary is complete. The 2003-04 Statistical Summary has several completed tables.

JMU Freshmen and Transfers, Fall 1993 to Fall 2002

The purpose of this study was to examine ten-years of information and identify trends about the nature of new undergraduate students at James Madison University. Foremost among the findings about entering freshmen from fall 1993 to fall 2002 are:

  1. The University grew significantly and maintained a reputation for selectivity.
  2. Enrolled freshmen increased 58%, from 2,082 to 3,283.
  3. Interest in attending JMU, as measured by the number of applicants, increased in roughly equal measure for both men and women. Overall, freshman class applications increased 39%, from 11,223 to 15,639.
  4. Acceptance rates increased from 47% to 58%.
  5. The acceptance rate for women in the freshman class climbed and surpassed the rates for men. Acceptance rates by fall 2002 were 63% female and 50% male. Only 36% (1,167) of the fall 2002 freshman class was male and, by headcount, the lowest number enrolled since fall 1995.
  6. For minorities, enrollment from Asian or Pacific Islanders and Hispanics increased Enrollment from African-Americans decreased. Non-white students (non-resident aliens included) declined from 14% to 11% of the entering freshman class. Applications for Asians or Pacific Islanders increased from 643 to 957 (49%), Hispanics increased 247 to 427 (73%) and African-Americans from 725 to 762 (5%).
  7. Out-of-state enrollment varied between 30% and 38% with a ten-year average of 34%. Out-of-state acceptance rates increased over the period, surpassing in-state rates.
  8. SAT combined scores continued to be "selective" compared to JMU peers. However, they declined from 1,186 to 1,165. The decline was associated with the increase in women with lower math scores than men and with the increase of out-of-state students with lower SAT combined scores.
  9. Results from the annual Freshman Survey revealed some trends consistent with the female increase in the freshman class. These included an increased emphasis on family and social interests and a decreased interest in a vocational philosophy of education.

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