Compiled and Written by Isidor Lacy, JMU Intern and SBDC Advisor Assistant

In the early 1970s, James Madison University (JMU) embarked on a transformative journey of creating a first-rate business education and entrepreneurship program in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The institution began building the foundation of a cutting-edge business culture with the establishment of an MBA program, signaling its commitment to shaping future business leaders. This dedication expanded in 1972 with the inception of the Madison College School of Business.

As globalization became a driving force in the business world, JMU responded by launching its International Business program in 1978, providing students with essential skills for navigating a global economy.

Throughout the 1980s, JMU’s commitment to business excellence grew stronger. The School of Business earned Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) National Accreditation in 1982, solidifying its reputation for academic rigor. The university also fostered economic literacy through initiatives like the Shenandoah Valley Economic Education effort.

In 1985, JMU took a significant step forward with the founding of the Center for Entrepreneurship, providing students with the support and resources needed to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. The same year, JMU welcomed the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) to its campus, further enhancing its standing as a hub for business education and professional development.

The pinnacle of JMU’s efforts came in 1989 with the formation of the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SV SBDC) in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Economic Development. Recognizing the vital role of small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley’s economy, the SV SBDC aimed to offer resources and personalized support to local entrepreneurs. Backed by a $100,000 grant, the SV SBDC expanded JMU’s outreach by offering assistance to a greater number of businesses. Led by dedicated individuals like David Miller and Dr. Devin Bent, the SV SBDC became a catalyst for economic growth through business consultations, workshops, and networking opportunities. Their efforts underscored a commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and community prosperity in the region.

As JMU entered the 1990s, the commitment to quality in business education was celebrated with the naming and dedication of Showker Hall—a nod to the university’s promise of providing top-notch facilities for business learning.

Fast forward to 2024, and you’ll find this legacy of innovation, collaboration, and excellence continuing to thrive in the halls of James Madison University, —a testament to the visionaries who laid the groundwork for future generations of business leaders.

Watch for more history and stories  in our ongoing 35th anniversary series!