Shenandoah University and Randolph-Macon Academy, a private, college-preparatory military boarding school in Front Royal, Virginia, have entered into a partnership through which both schools will cooperate to provide more opportunities for their students.
SU President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., and retired United States Air Force Brig. Gen. David Wesley, R-MA’s president, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday, April 7, that joined both schools in a year-long partnership that can be renewed for successive one-year terms.
Dr. Fitzsimmons said the two schools, separated by less than 25 miles, have enjoyed an unofficial partnership for decades that became official with the MOU signing.
“If I know anything about R-MA, I know that it is all about its students. And at Shenandoah, we are all about our students. Every one of us here will celebrate this signing and this partnership because of what it’s going to do for our students, and therefore, for our faculty and staff as well, because it inspires them to have new partnerships,” Fitzsimmons said to a crowd that included leadership, faculty and staff from both schools and students from R-MA.
One of the things that I love about what we’re signing today is that it leaves room for possibility. It doesn’t hold us back, it doesn’t create walls around it so we can’t go any further. There are no parameters. We can dream together.”
Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., Shenandoah University president
The partnership paves the way for potential mutual advancement in key areas, including the strengthening of current dual enrollment opportunities and opening the door to conversations surrounding expedited admission and student life opportunities.
Shenandoah University has interest in beginning an aviation program, and R-MA, which features an elite Air Force JROTC program built around an aerospace science curriculum, operates an in-house flight program that provides both flight and drone instruction and is the only one of its kind at the secondary school level in the country.
Randolph-Macon Academy, which has a software and engineering curriculum that includes quantum computing, advanced cybersecurity, and robotics and remotely operated vehicles (ROV) engineering, has a deep interest in Shenandoah’s augmented reality/virtual reality, computer science and esports programs.
R-MA also has interest in developing more in-depth performing arts programs, an area in which SU excels through the Shenandoah Conservatory.
“It gives our students at Randolph-Macon more options, more ways to think of the future, more ways to prepare for that future,” Wesley said. “I hope that it will benefit Shenandoah University, just through the skills and the skill sets that we’re developing, particularly in aviation and computer science, but probably in other ways as well.”
Shenandoah University and R-MA are linked by their roots in the United Methodist Church, and by what Wesley called a commitment to making education accessible to students not just regionally, but across the globe.
There’s a new path forward, and we plan on doing our part,” Wesley stated to those in attendance. “We want to stand at your shoulder. We’re ready for the task.”
Retired USAF Brig. Gen. David Wesley, Randolph-Macon Academy president
SU, which recently earned a 2022-23 Military Friendly® School designation, boasts a Veterans, Military and Families Center and is working to renovate the former National Guard Armory Building on campus, which will eventually house the Hub for Innovators, Veterans and Entrepreneurs (HIVE).
“We celebrate the work that R-MA does with regard to preparing young people, many of whom end up entering the military,” Fitzsimmons said. “Of course, here at Shenandoah, we have a thriving veterans center and we intend to grow that center even more, so that’s one more piece that kind of makes sense here with this partnership.”
Randolph-Macon Academy is a co-ed private school for grades 6-12. It offers a superior university-preparatory curriculum with an elite Air Force JROTC program that prepares graduates to pursue lives of meaning and success. Every year, 100% of R-MA graduates are accepted to the best universities around the world. The Class of 2021 graduated 50 students who received over $12.3 million in scholarships.
R-MA is ranked in the following 2022 Niche.com categories:
- No. 4: Most Diverse Private High Schools in Virginia
- No. 4: Best Boarding High Schools in Virginia
- No. 10: Best Private High Schools in Virginia
For more information, visit RMA.edu.