JMU receives its largest cash gift, $5 million, toward scholarships, entrepreneurship

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James Madison University has received its largest cash donation, a $5 million gift from an alumnus-turned-entrepreneur and his wife.

The money donated by Paul Holland and his wife Linda Yates will go towards scholarships, study abroad students and entrepreneurship, among other things.

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In response, JMU renamed the building on campus Holland Yates Hall.

After graduating from JMU in 1982 with a degree in public administration and political science, Holland worked with Reed Hastings to start a software company called Pure Software. Hastings later founded streaming giant Netflix.

Holland later helped launch another software initiative, Kana Software, Inc. The two software companies have generated a market capitalization of more than $12 billion.

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“When I left JMU, I was academically prepared and socially savvy enough for whatever adventure I had,” Holland said.

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Yates, a graduate of the University of Virginia, founded a company called Mach 49, which is designed to accelerate the success of other entrepreneurs.

Holland Yates Hall, formerly Madison Hall, is home to the Admissions Office and Global Engagement Center.

In June, JMU completed an eight-year campaign that raised $250 million.

While the gift from Holland and Yates is the largest monetary gift JMU has received, the university received another gift with a higher estimated value. In 2020, the university’s mineral museum received 314 pieces of emerald, topaz, gold and other gems worth nearly $17 million.


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