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Youngkin Appoints Madison Cabinet Member to Board of Visitors

Madison Cabinet congratulates the newest members of JMU's Board of Visitors.

Yesterday, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced his second round of appointments to the Board of Visitors at James Madison University. One of the Madison Cabinet's most active members, Mr. Jeff Tickle, was among those appointed to the Board of Visitors. Other appointees include, Mr. Steve Smith, Ms. Nicole Wood, and Ms. Carly Fiorina. These new members join Ms. Suzanne Obenshain, The Honorable Dickie Bell, Ms. Terrie Edwards, Mr. Jack White, and Mr. Mike Stolzfus as fellow Youngkin appointees on the board. With the addition of these four new members, there is a Youngkin majority on the Board of Visitors.

Mr. Tickle's appointment to the Board of Visitors indicates a clear interest on the part of the administration for meaningful changes at James Madison University. In 2020, when President Alger's contract was up for renewal, Jeff wrote a letter to the Board expressing his dissatisfaction with the university on a number of levels. He went on to notify the Board that he would be ending his significant philanthropic contributions to the university and amending his estate plans. He further stated, "In 2012 the Board of Visitors approved the hiring of Jonathan Alger. I knew from day one that he was not the right person for the job and his actions continue to prove my initial assessment correct." Ultimately, he implored the Board to not renew the contract of Jon Alger.

Tickle letter
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Earlier this year, Tickle joined the John Reid show to share more about the efforts of the Madison Cabinet. During the interview John Reid asked, "How did the culture of JMU change? What's the timetable?" Tickle stated, it all started with the hiring of Jon Alger, which is ground zero, in my opinion."

Tickle is a well known individual in his native home of Southwest Virginia, along fellow Southwest Virginia native, Steve Smith. Smith was formerly on the Board of Visitors having been appointed by Governor McDonnell in 2010 and not re-appointed by Governor McAuliffe. Interestingly, he was on the Board for the final years of the Rose presidency and selection of Jon Alger.

Nicole Wood is a well known and respected government relations professional in the health care industry. She began her career working for State Senator Frank Ruff and worked in various lobbying roles for large national groups such as the NRA, Boat US, and America's Community Bankers.

Fiorina was previously appointed by Governor McDonnell, but resigned from the Board to run for President of the United States. She was the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

The next meeting of the JMU Board of Visitors isn't until September, but hopefully the new board members will connect with the current Youngkin appointees to understand the issues at JMU. There has already been noticeable change on the board when earlier this year four of the five Youngkin appointees (Mike Stolzfus voted yes) voted to not increase tuition. Additionally, the board has made small changes to be more transparent and open with the public - one of the first requests from the Madison Cabinet.

It is too early to know the exact implications of a Youngkin controlled board, but if the vote to increase tuition is any indication there are going to be some much needed, tough conversations in the administration about the direction of the University. Prior to the April board meeting, the Madison Cabinet prepared a list of the Top 20 questions the Board members should be asking of the administration. The questions remain as relevant today as they did in April.

In addition to the Board appointments, the Supreme Court of the United States has just struck down the use of affirmative action at colleges and universities. Bottom line: change is coming to our colleges and universities, and James Madison University.

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